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International trade in reach for NM firms

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Jumping into international trade can be an intimidating prospect for a small business owner.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, said David Glaccum, associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade.

David Glaccum

“It’s a sale like any other sale, and there are resources to help you get there,” Glaccum said while addressing New Mexico business owners and others Friday at the 2020 International Business Summit.

The event, held on Central New Mexico Community College’s Montoya campus and co-hosted by the New Mexico Trade Alliance, was designed to answer questions about exports, highlight grants and other resources, and encourage more New Mexico small businesses to participate in the global economy.

While international trade has more than doubled as a portion of the United States’ gross domestic product over the past six decades, Glaccum said many small businesses opt not to export goods and services due to a lack of expertise, as well as a level of comfort in domestic markets. Glaccum told attendees that as few as 1% of American small businesses export goods or services to other countries, even though 95% of consumers live outside the United States.

“The opportunity for new and expanded trade relationships, and the accompanying sales growth, is there for the taking,” Glaccum said.

The event convened panels of trade experts and New Mexico small business owners who have had success with international trade. Panelists discussed financing and identifying markets while answering questions from other New Mexico business owners interested in expanding their own international footprint.

New Mexico has seen steady growth in foreign trade in recent years, according to New Mexico Trade Alliance president Randy Trask. In 2019, the state’s exports to Mexico grew by 68% and its total global exports grew by 31%, according to the Journal’s archives.

Still, Trask noted that many of those export totals don’t always reflect goods produced in New Mexico, and the state remains well behind neighbors like Colorado and Arizona in total exports. Trask pointed to New Mexico’s smaller population and relatively small manufacturing sector as factors.

As a result, Trask and Glaccum agreed there’s room for improvement within the state’s small business export realm. Trask highlighted New Mexico’s food industry as a particular area of focus, noting the state’s relatively abundant food-product manufacturers could find homes in markets as far away as Europe and Asia.

During the trade summit, Glaccum highlighted some of the tools the Office of International Trade uses to work with small business, including grants through the office’s State Trade Expansion Program. He said the program, a partnership between federal and state government, supported nearly $5 million in small business export sales in New Mexico in 2019.

“I think the future is bright for trade,” Glaccum said.

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