Value of Arkansas Exports Rises 6.5 Percent in 2011

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 12:00 am  

Dan Hendrix, president and CEO of the World Trade Center Arkansas, attributed the improved showing to several factors.

“There is a continuing awareness that 97 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States,” he said. “Globally, the purchasing power of an emerging middle class is growing.”

In addition, Hendrix said, in November 2011, “the Obama administration rolled out the National Export Initiative to double United States exports in five years. As part of this initiative, the SBA began a State Trade Export Promotion grant program.

“The WTC Arkansas received $576,400 for 2011-12 and $320,000 for 2012-13 under that program, which we’re using to promote Arkansas exports. In addition, free trade agreements — such as those recently implemented with Panama, Colombia and South Korea — have made Arkansas products and services more competitive in foreign markets.”

Asked what Arkansas exports are doing particularly well in the global market, Johnson said that transportation equipment, agricultural products and equipment, machinery and chemicals were continuing to sell well.

He added that Canada, Mexico and China remain among the state’s leading markets, with increases in France, Brazil, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Belgium and South Korea. The marked increase in Arkansas exports during the first nine months of this year was with Canada, Mexico, China, Brazil and Belgium, Johnson said.

Finding buyers overseas isn’t just for big companies, Johnson and Hendrix stress. About 78 percent of the state’s exporting companies are small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Both men pointed to the help their organizations offer Arkansas businesses in connecting with foreign buyers, with Johnson noting that “surviving recessionary times requires new markets be developed around the world.”

To improve their chances of finding overseas buyers for their goods, Johnson said, Arkansas companies should conduct research to determine the best foreign markets, visit those countries and meet with prospective buyers and then develop an international marketing plan.



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