Two centuries ago, Scottish economist Adam Smith and British economist David Ricardo expressed a revolutionary belief that countries should participate in international trade as a means of capitalizing on their individual advantages, enabling them to engage in business in a manner that was both efficient and mutually beneficial. In the 21st century, as the global market becomes increasingly integrated, the vision of these economists is more relevant than ever before.
International trade plays a crucial role in the economic growth and success of the United States. Supported by a sophisticated web of global infrastructure, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, and government programs, international trade has become increasingly accessible to businesses and industries across the nation. In the second quarter of 2007, exports contributed 11.5% of the U.S. GDP, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Small and medium-sized companies comprise approximately 96% of U.S. exporters, however, they represent less than 1/3 of the total U.S. export value. This discrepancy indicates great potential for further foreign market penetration.
95% of the world’s population is located outside the United States. The global marketplace represents a significant opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to establish an international presence and expand their customer base by entering untapped international markets. With the resources available to businesses through government entities and organizations such as the International Trade Alliance, reaching the global market has become more feasible than ever before.