Pulling from our friends at the Federation of International Trade Associations, there are opportunities for Oklahoma businesses to boost their bottom line by trading with partners in Chile.

According to U.S. Census data, trade between the United States and Chile totaled $24.1 billion in 2015, with the U.S. exporting a total value of $15.4 billion and importing $8.7 billion worth of goods.

The main goods exported by the United States include mineral fuels, aircraft and machinery as well as vehicles. The main goods imported from Chile include copper, agricultural products and wood products.

Check out the Chileyello business directory to find potential partners and sectors.

For the full country report from Chile by the Federation of International Trade Associations, click here.

One obstacle Oklahoma firms with little experience of exporting may run into is the challenge of knowing just where to begin. While U.S. and Oklahoma-state agencies are there to help, another tactic may be to use a tool available at the click of a mouse.

Google’s Global Market Finder tool is free and simple to use. It provides an easy step for those Oklahoma manufacturers interested in learning about what niches and markets lie outside the U.S.

According to Google, the global market finder has access to more than 1.9 billion customers around the globe, including connecting to what geographic locations where their products are in demand, estimating costs and providing translations for non-English speaking partners.

For those interested in learning more about export opportunities, real, live trade professionals are also available to help at the local level. Those interested in speaking with Oklahoma-based trade professionals should contact Jennifer Springer at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce or Marcus Verner at the U.S. Department of Trade.

(Top photo: The Oklahoma Department of Commerce – by Bo Apitz).


The Oklahoma Department of Commerce announces the Oklahoma STEP Forward Enhancement Fund, part of the State Trade Expansion Program, an export promotion initiative that makes matching-fund grants for states to assist small businesses. This grant is funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“The intent of this program is to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting, and to increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting,” said Jennifer Springer, Director of Global Recruitment and Trade Services, at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.


Download the STEP Fund Flyer here.

Funding for this year will help eligible companies to offset the cost to participate at designated international trade shows and allow them to promote their Oklahoma-made products on a global scale.  In addition, other services such as website translations and marketing design; compliance testing; and shipping of sample products into international markets can be used toward the grant as well.

“The STEP grant, in partnership between the U.S. and Oklahoma Department of Commerce, is an incredible opportunity for Oklahoma exporters to receive marketing assistance to promote their products or services worldwide,” said Chuck Mills, President of Mills Machine and previous STEP grant recipient. “The program enabled us to translate our website into another language which made it easier for our customers to understand our product line!”

To be considered for the Oklahoma STEP Fund, all applicants are required to submit an application and supporting documentation. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce will begin taking applications from Oklahoma small businesses starting November 1, 2016.

A full application, guidelines and requirements can be found online at www.okcommerce.gov/stepfund. For more information, contact the Global Recruitment and Trade Division at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce at (800) 879-6552, or 405-815-5136 or Jesse.Garcia@okcommerce.gov.

One concern that many Oklahoma exporters have about doing business overseas is worrying about a lack of payment once services are rendered or a product is delivered. Tools offered by the Export-Import Bank of the United States such as Export Credit Insurance, which amongst several benefits, can insure against nonpayment by international buyers.

However, there are occasions where private firms specializing in collecting payment from overseas are necessary. Altus Global Trade Solutions is one such firm with a presence in 116 countries worldwide.  They are a fully bonded company licensed in all states and countries that require it. In addition, Altus offers its own credit reporting system to inform agencies such as Experian, Dun & Bradstreet and Equifax of your debtor’s credit.

Altus offers negotiable rates for its services, which include financial investigations of debtors bank accounts, assets and liabilities. They also claim that less that due to the thoroughness of their investigations, less than 1 percent of their accounts ever reach litigation. If they do, Altus is a member of the Commercial Law League of America.

To learn more about Altus Global Solutions, visit their website here or contact Andrea Nicole Lawrence.

Shipping product or payments abroad can be a daunting proposition for first time Oklahoma exporters. Even established business relationships can face challenges when doing business from a distance should an international partner file for bankruptcy, run low on cash or fail to pay an invoice. Concerns about resolving these issues keep many Oklahoma exporters from exploring options outside the U.S., but there are resources to ensure that risks businesses take are covered should the worst happen.

Below are three options for insurance that help protect the investment that Oklahoma exporters make when doing business abroad.*


meridian-logoMeridian Finance Group – Over the past 20 years Meridian Finance Group has helped hundreds of companies increase their sales using accounts receivable insurance. All policies brokered by Meridian are backed by top-rated credit insurance companies. We offer policies from every underwriter, enabling us to quote the most competitive terms and premium rates in the market. More significant than Meridian’s ability to place coverage is the comprehensive support we provide to our customers.




EHEuler Hermes – Boasting itself as the world’s leading provider of trade credit insurance, Euler Hermes provides the insight and resources you need to manage, maximize and protect your receivables. When you initiate a business credit insurance policy, their experts analyze your customers’ creditworthiness and financial stability. We then assign them specific credit limits; these are the amounts we will indemnify if those insured customers fail to pay. Our underwriters are industry specialists who will work closely with you to deliver in-depth credit analysis and ongoing account monitoring to provide early warning of potential credit risks before they become a loss.



EXIMThe Export-Import Bank of the United States – If you’re a tax payer, you’re already invested! The EXIM Bank’s Export Credit Insurance empowers American exporters to safely offer competitive open account terms to international customers, while protecting against nonpayment. They offer policies featuring free credit analysis of foreign buyers, streamlined processing and no up-front costs: no advance premium, no first-loss deductible—nothing owed pre-shipment. You pay only for what you ship, after you ship it.




* The Oklahoma Governor’s International Team does not endorse the services of the above organizations.
(Photo credit to  Stan Shebs.

Shared from our friends over at GlobalTrade.net, Oklahoma-based companies have an opportunity to expand their business interests with trade partners in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. According to the latest country report from GlobalTrade.net, trade between the U.S. and Israel has expanded eightfold since the signing of the countries’ free trade agreement.

As noted in the report, “while technical barriers persist for agricultural goods, Israel has been removed from the watch list of countries not adequately protecting intellectual property rights, opening the way for new business opportunities.”

Navigating those technical barriers might be a concern, but for Oklahoma companies there are partners available right here at home that may help facilitate a smooth transition. Current OKGIT chair Susan Robertson, head of the Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE), is just one of the partners available for Oklahoma firms interested in establishing ties with Israeli commercial and trade partners.

Read the full report on Israel from GlobalTrade.net here.

Available through the EXIM Bank of the United States of America on July 26, Oklahoma exporters can log in from the comfort of their offices or home to learn about credit insurance and tax credit assistance when shipping their products abroad.

Register for this free webinar taking place at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time here.

EXIM will host a brief, one hour webinar on IC-DISC and Export Credit Insurance. For those of us outside the complicated realm of federal government-inspired acronyms, IC-DISC is an IRS export tax credit program that helps small and medium sized American firms reduce their tax burden.

Presenters will include:

  • Jennifer Simpson – Regional Director, EXIM Bank
  • Paul Ferreira – President, Export Tax Management
  • Adrienne Selko – Panel Moderator, Senior Editor at IndustryWeek

If you think your firm may be among the 50 percent of American SMEs who are overpaying on their export taxes, this is the webinar for you. Link to the registration page here.

While Oklahoma’s economic fortunes have long been tied to the energy industry, the state’s ability to draw in new and emerging industries has been a particular focus of economic development and political leaders. One Oklahoma-based company, Spiers New Technologies, is one firm involved in the emerging sector of battery refurbishment and manufacturing. Its founder, Dutch-born Dirk Spiers, spoke to the OKGIT.com about opening his business in the Sooner State and its plans for future international expansion.

Tell us a little bit about your background before you began your current endeavor?

“I’ve done a lot of things in my life:  Foreign exchange, advertising and marketing, sports marketing, business Development. That, probably, is a short list.”

Dirk Spiers

Dirk Spiers

You were the director of international sales for ATC Drivetrain, is that how you initially got into the international business market?

“Yes, I did business development for ATC Drivetrain probably ten years or more ago, but I have been international my whole life. I think most people (born) in the Netherlands are international. You start to learn different languages when you are around 10, you travel, you watch foreign TV. I have been on every continent, traveled or did business in most places. So I have been ‘international’ – whatever that means – for a long time.”

How did you end up in Oklahoma City of all places?

“I wonder that myself. I was living in the Netherlands again for a few years and then I got an offer from an Oklahoma City-based company to join them. It was one of those moments. I said ‘yes’ and moved to Oklahoma City. It was a bit of a culture shock, although I have to say that Oklahoma City is improving a lot.”

Your business Spiers New Technologies is growing, with planned openings in California and the northeast. What about Oklahoma makes this a place to conduct business in addition to these other locations?

“We probably will first expand into Europe and China, I see that is happening first.

“We love California, we believe it is a very forward looking state, it has a healthy budget, it is not afraid to make big bets and it is leading the world in many ways. I used to live there and I miss it. For a business like us, that environment is very business friendly.  But it is also a victim of its own success. Traffic, costs, just the sheer number of people is overwhelming. That is an opportunity for Oklahoma.”

“We are now based in Oklahoma City, which has the advantage of being centrally located in the U.S. We do a lot of logistics and for that it is great to be in the middle of the country. Also we managed to assemble a great team of operators, technicians and engineers. For now it is home. We hope it will continue to improve, become more business friendly, more forward looking with a more diversified economy.”

How many employees do you have at your current Oklahoma location? Any plans for a further expansion?

“We are constantly expanding; sometimes I wish we could catch our breath a bit before the next growth spurt. For now we are flat out and I am not complaining. We more than doubled in size this year alone and currently have around 40 employees. 18 months ago it was one.”

Can you elaborate on what some ways you believe the state could improve its investment climate to international firms?

“What I mean by ‘Oklahoma needs to diversify,’ is that it should not isolate itself. It should attract more, yet different business and help startups by creating a more entrepreneurial culture. The legislature needs to be more cooperative and more aware of the bigger – international – picture. Being pro-business means a lot more than cutting taxes at every opportunity and being conservative. I don’t mind paying more for a better product, I don’t think anyone does. It is all what you get for it.

“The growth of this state can only come from the outside, meaning you need to apply and think on an international level instead of inward looking and doing the ‘same old, same old’.

“Optics and reputation matter too.  In recent years, when people who live outside this state read about Oklahoma, it has been about executions, tax and education cuts taking place simultaneously, our recent earthquake issues.

“People from the outside, especially outside the U.S., they can’t understand it. It puts them off.  I’m from the Netherlands, which is very susceptible to the effects of climate change. When our leaders grandstand and openly ridicule scientific facts in public, it hurts us as a state and sets us back. You’d be amazed how many emails and calls I get from all over the U.S., Europe and Asia when that happens.

“That reputation does have an impact on Oklahoma’s potential, I saw it firsthand. Some bright engineers we were trying to recruit, they left the state because of this perception, and stuff like this is holding us back. Oklahoma should be at the center of the world, not at the edge”.

Given your international business experience, what advice would you give to international firms or professionals considering doing business here?

“That is difficult to answer. It would depend on your business, what sector are you in, what stage of your growth are you in. There are plenty of advantages, but also some disadvantages. People are very friendly, you are central and it is very easy to get connected. You have short lines to everyone. I love that here.”

“I wish that the legislators in the capitol would be a bit more forward looking and focus on the issues which are really meaningful, rather than try to just score political points. Sometimes I am amazed what is going on. I think a lot of international companies will feel similarly.

“Pragmatism is often missing. We need to be careful that we don’t isolate ourselves. We need to look into the future and embrace it. See it as an opportunity, not a threat. It is better to lead than to eventually follow and compete on margin. There is more value to be made in new opportunities, markets and segments than there is in optimizing decade’s old business models. Some of the country’s biggest businesses did not exist 20 to 30 years ago. It is better to be a growing Netflix than huge a Blockbuster. Progress is inevitable and it is better to lead than to follow. However hard it is. And that is the Oklahoma spirit”.
Spiers New Technologies performs battery life cycle management of advanced battery storage packs. Working with electric car manufacturers, Spiers New Technologies grades and remanufactures used high-performance batteries. To learn more about Spiers New Technologies visit www.spiersnewtechnologies.com or email Dirk@Spiers.com.

Shared from our friends over at GlobalTrade.net, Oklahoma-based companies have an opportunity to expand to one of the U.S.’ growing trade partners with access to the wider Mediterranean. According to GlobalTrade.net’s latest country report,  “trade between the United States and Morocco totaled slightly above $2.6 billion in 2015. The United States exported a total value of $1.6 billion and imported $1 billion worth of goods…

“The United States export mainly apparel and food manufactures, electrical equipment and appliances, mineral fuel and oil as well as cereals. Imports from Morocco are mainly fertilizers, raw materials (salt, sulfur, earth and stone), electrical machinery and woven apparel.

“New opportunities for business can be found in particular in agricultural products, textiles and the banking sector.”

For Oklahoma agriculture exporters, especially wheat farmers coming off a better than expected 2016 summer harvest, the USDA’s forecast for nearly 3 million tons of wheat imports (up from 2.8 initially predicted) into Morocco is a positive.

To read the full GlobalTrade.net article, please click here.

Though the state’s economy has slowed as of late, Oklahoma producers still have customers waiting to purchase Sooner State-made products. Through support services from the EXIM Bank of the Untied States, Oklahoma firms can meet new buyers for their products while safeguarding their investments against the risks of doing business abroad.

Through the EXIM Bank’s export credit insurance program, Oklahoma companies seeking to expand internationally can:

  • Grow their business in new, untapped markets
  • Offer competitive credit terms to foreign customers
  • Unlock more attractive bank financing
  • Transfer the burden of credit management
  • Realize tax benefits

To learn more about EXIM Bank’s services for Oklahoma companies, please click here.