American companies have a tremendous resource for promoting and protecting their business interests abroad – the U.S. government and its thousands of diplomats and commercial service trade professionals stationed in every meaningful market in the world.

Under U.S. and international law, American diplomats are allowed to promote and protect private business interests in other countries.  This type of Commercial Diplomacy can help U.S. companies sell goods and services in foreign markets, break down barriers to trade and investment, and avoid or resolve business disputes.

Here are just three of the many U.S. government agencies dedicated to making American companies more competitive in foreign markets:

U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)

USTDA helps companies create U.S. jobs by promoting exports of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.  The agency identifies critical development needs in emerging economies, then it funds project planning activities, pilot projects, and reverse trade missions to bring U.S. goods and services into those countries to meet development needs. 

For example, USTDA recently brought more than 70 U.S. companies to a workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, where the American companies educated representatives of Southeast Asian nations on best practices in disaster preparedness and response.  This created an opportunity for U.S. companies to sell their products, technologies, and services in a region where floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and other natural disasters create ongoing need for disaster preparedness and response.

U.S. Commercial Service

The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the International Trade Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  It has trade professionals stationed in more than 100 U.S. cities and more than 75 foreign countries to help U.S. companies get started in exporting and increase sales to new global markets.

Imagine having a global network of experienced trade professionals nearby and around the world to help your business.  The U.S. Commercial Service offers trade counseling, market intelligence, business matchmaking, and commercial diplomacy to connect American companies with business opportunities.  It also helps companies develop trade finance and insurance strategies.

U.S. Department of State, Office of Commercial and Business Affairs

The State Department’s Office of Commercial and Business Affairs works on both policy and practical levels to promote and protect U.S. business interests in foreign countries.  Its mission includes ensuring that private sector business concerns are integrated into U.S. foreign and economic policy.  In addition, the office engages in Commercial Diplomacy with other government agencies to assist and promote private U.S. business interests overseas.

The State Department’s Commercial Diplomacy activities include advocacy on behalf of American businesses and assistance in opening markets, leveling the playing field, protecting intellectual property and resolving trade and investment disputes.  Its Office of Commercial and Business Affairs also provides information and answers questions on important issues such as corruption and bribery in overseas markets, U.S. export controls on sensitive equipment and technologies, and business-related visas for employees, partners and clients of U.S. firms.

These are only three of dozens of government agencies with mandates to promote and protect private U.S. business interests in foreign countries.  Over the coming weeks, this blog will address many more government agencies that can help any U.S. company, large or small, export to and compete in global markets.

John Howley, Esq.
New York, New York

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.  I invite you to contact our law offices and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail.  Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.  I practice law and offer legal services only in jurisdictions where I am properly authorized to do so.  I do not seek to represent anyone in any jurisdiction where this web site does not comply with applicable laws and bar rules.


Ed Shevlin
07/15/2012 1:08pm

Hi John, I love your new blog, thanks for inviting me in! It would be great to bring balance to our commerce with other countries. Trade imbalances hurt our manufacturers (the few that are left) and cause bad blood between us and our trading partners. It is well that we think about these things.

01/16/2013 2:37pm

Hi John,

Don't forget about the SBA, they have a lot of resources and collaborations with other government agencies that can point a business person in the right direction when it comes to overseas commercial ventures.


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