Monday, December 7, 2015

WTC's 19th Annual Holiday Luncheon and Reception

Posted by Hannah Copenheaver

This year, we celebrated our 19th Holiday Luncheon and Reception at the Out Door Country Club in York, PA. Every year, we choose a different global location to learn more about how their culture celebrates holidays and exchanges gifts during these times. 

This year, we decided to choose Albania. Why? Because do you know where Albania is? Not many people do! Special thank you to Iris Kapo, Int’l Trade Specialist at the U.S. Commercial Service in Philadelphia for giving such a delightful, and energetic, presentation!
We also tasted "Shëndetlie me mjaltë" made by Amy's Custom Cakery.

We collected donations for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank during the program. Together, we donated 100 pounds of food! Thank you to all who donated to this wonderful cause, especially with the holidays upon us. 

Congratulations to our food drive raffle basket winner: Scott Sipe, MANTEC

Thank you to all who attended and celebrated with us! Event pictures can be viewed on our Facebook page by clicking here.

Special thank you to our sponsors of this year's luncheon: York County Economic Alliance (Presenting Sponsor), Fulton Bank, BB&T, MANTEC, Oakworks, UPS, Zeigler Brothers, Inc.

Happy Holidays from Tina, Jan, and Hannah!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Meet Your Local Customs Official Roundtable

Posted by Paige Diller, Intern

At our recent World Trade Center round-table event, we had the opportunity to meet with Michelle Stover, Port Director, and Scott Merlo, Officer, from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Port of Harrisburg office.  

They were able to share their mission as part of CBP's Field Operations and some of their personal experiences that they have had while protecting U.S. borders over the years. They also provided helpful advice for attending companies on various different aspects of travel and trade, including the best ways to seek help or information. They also touched upon the operational elements of trade, such our local Foreign Trade Zone.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Mission
Within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Office of Field Operations focuses on guarding the physical and economic security of the United States by controlling access to the country. In the words of our speakers, they keep the "bad people" and "bad things" out. Simultaneously, the office facilitates international trade and travel by not only sustaining an essential aspect of the U.S. economy but also by ensuring its integrity. The six enforcement authorities that fall under the Office of Field Operations' domain are anti-terrorism, facilitation of lawful travel, cargo security, seizing contraband, trade enforcement, and agriculture quarantine inspection.

Impact on Border Security
Michelle Stover and Scott Merlo's presentation provided numerous statistics showing the impact of border protection. In 2014, nearly 8,000 people wanted for serious crimes were arrested by CBP officers. The total number of arrests at the border was around 21,000 people. The CBP also plays a large part in preventing inadmissible aliens and high risk inadmissible travelers from entering the United States. In 2014, 224,000 inadmissible aliens and 11,494 high-risk travelers were denied entry to the U.S. Additionally, the CBP seized over 800,000 pounds of drugs in 2014 and seize $700,000 in counterfeit goods every day.

Central Pennsylvania's Foreign-Trade Zone
In our discussion following the presentation, attending business representatives had the chance to ask questions to the CBP officials. One topic that was explored in depth was the Central Pennsylvania Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ #147). Foreign-Trade Zones are designated properties where U.S. based companies have the opportunity to defer, reduce, or sometimes eliminate Customs duties that are admitted and transported through the FTZ. The sites are intentionally located to offer convenience to businesses; typically there is easy access to on-site inter-modal transportation connections (including air, road, and rail). The Foreign-Trade Zones essentially facilitate international trade for the region's businesses, offering a competitive advantage ahead of other companies abroad. To learn more about the benefits of the Central Pennsylvania Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ #147) and its effect on export duties, please visit their webpage

Of all the information shared, Michelle and Scott emphasized that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection works to not only protect the nation and its citizens from "bad", but to also enable "good". They are here to facilitate a thriving economy rooted in international trade and travel!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dealing with a Strong U.S. Dollar

Posted by Paige Diller, Intern

As the strength of the U.S. dollar is on the rise, a small group of representatives from local businesses sat down for a roundtable discussion to gain insight and share advice on how to manage the currency’s impact on exports and trade.

Currency Strength and Exporting Impacts Explained.
Though the U.S. dollar gaining strength is an indication of a recovering economy, it negatively impacts U.S. companies that export their goods and services. For example, in November of 2014, a good that was produced and priced at $5 by a U.S. company could be purchased by a European company for 4. A year later, the same U.S. company making the same product and priced at the same $5 would now cost a European company 4.61.

The cost of buying U.S. goods and services is going up for international companies while U.S. companies are not necessarily pulling in any additional revenues.  

Strategies for Dealing with the Strong U.S. Dollar.
The World Trade Center hosted event “Strategies for Dealing with a Strong U.S. Dollar” facilitated interactions between local companies who all face this challenge. The discussion was led by Matt Blyth of Fulton International Group, Kirk Elken of Securitas Global Risk Solutions, and Timothy Deitrich of Barley Snyder. Together they were able to provide insight from different positions with expertise in foreign exchange strategies, credit insurance options, and legal considerations, respectively.

A variety of manufacturing companies, from different industries within the manufacturing field, participated in this conversation. Of the entire discussion, Letters of Credit to assure reliability of customers, cultural challenges that impact business interactions, and the changing international environment of competition were just a few topics introduced; problems and challenges were responded to with advice and potential solutions from others.

One Part of a Bigger Picture.
Though the focus of this conversation was the strength of the U.S. dollar and the challenges that presents, it was noted that this is one part of a bigger picture. Success in exporting is dependent on having a wide perspective of the many challenges exporting may present and having a balanced approach in developing solutions for operating in the international market.

As our speakers so eloquently concluded, there is no “magic solution” to these challenges. However, roundtable conversations where ideas, advice, and insight can be shared is an immeasurably valuable resource in pursuing exporting success and proficiency.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hannah's Trade Show Visits

posted by Hannah Copenheaver

Hannah has been busy this year! It just so happened that she was in the same city twice this year at the same time as our members, who were exhibiting at their respective industry trade shows. This led to the great opportunity for Hannah to see both members, in action, as they showcased their products and meet with potential buyers. 

First, Hannah was able to see Fox Chapel Publishing as they exhibited at the London Book Fair in London, UK in April. This year, the Fair welcomed over 25,000 professional visitors from more than 120 countries. The London Book Fair is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. Taking place every Spring, it is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalize on the innovations shaping the publishing world of the future. This year, the Fair marked 44 years of bringing direct access to customers, content and emerging markets. The Fair also continued their "market focus" initiative, with this year's focus on Mexico. The objective of the market focus is to put the spotlight on publishing trade links with the country or region that is showcased, highlighting its publishing industry and the opportunities for conducting business with the rest of the world. 

Fox Chapel Publishing

Second, Hannah had the opportunity to visit the RoomMates' booth at the ABC Kids Expo in October. ABC Kids Expo is a private trade show for the juvenile products industry and is not open to the general public. It is the premier juvenile products specialty show in the world, with nearly 1000 exhibitors utilizing 3300 booths. This trade show is a bit different because All Baby & Child, Inc. (ABC) is a non-profit organization that is also a partnership of juvenile products manufacturers and industry retailers. Their primary objective is to act as a business league that helps organize and produce trade shows and educational conferences for the benefit of juvenile products manufacturers, industry retailers, trade media, distributors and manufacturers' representatives of juvenile products.

RoomMates Peel and Stick Decor

Both members made countless connections to buyers, distributors and retailers, and both were very satisfied with the outcome for their respective company.

Hannah does not have any other surprise trade show visits planned, but don't be alarmed if she ends up at your booth next!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

La Linea

contributed by Ted Murphy, Partner, Baker & McKenzie LLP

As you may have seen in the news recently, the President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina has been forced to resigned and was jailed over his alleged role in a multi-million dollar customs fraud scheme.  This scheme, referred to as "La Línea", involved payments of bribes by Guatemalan customs brokers to customs officials in exchange for lower duty rates on imported articles.  

Given the potential U.S. implications through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)  all companies that exported articles to Guatemala in recent years should review their transactions to ensure that shipments were handled appropriately. 

In particular, it is important that companies review the controls in place over any ex-US customs brokers.  For example, when entering a new jurisdiction, companies should make sure that they understand upfront what import requirements apply to their goods (e.g., is an import license/permit required for the goods to be imported or not?) and what sort of duties & fees will be owed.  Companies should also take steps to vet any customs brokers or agents.  

All companies should take steps to audit their brokers or agents against these requirements.  Implementing reasonable steps like these would go along way to preventing expensive FCPA actions from occurring.

Ted Murphy
Baker & McKenzie LLP
815 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel:  +1 202 452 7069
Mobile:  +1 703 867 8318
Fax:  +1 202 416 7069

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Wonderful Experience at the Fancy Food Show!

Posted by Hannah Copenheaver
Hannah at the Fancy Food Show

The World Trade Center Harrisburg partnered for the 4th year with Pennsylvania's Office of International Business Development (World Trade PA) in organizing the Pennsylvania Pavilion at the 61st annual Summer Fancy Food Show. The show was held at the Javits Convention Center in New York City from June 28-30, 2015. The Fancy Food Show is North America's largest show for the specialty food and beverage industry and attracts a large number of foreign buyers. 

This Year's Show Recap:

  • Over 180,000 products including confections, cheese, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural and organic products.
  • More than 2,600 exhibitors from 51 countries
  • Over 25,000 foreign buyers, including organized food buying delegations from all over the globe

The Pennsylvania Pavilion included 12 companies, with three from our southcentral region. Companies were able to arrange pre-scheduled appointments with foreign buyers, which took place the day before the show opened. 

Nuts About Granola- York, PA
Participating Companies in the PA Pavilion included:
Bella Lucia
Better Batter
BumbleBerry Farms
Davis & Davis Gourmet Foods, LLC
DelGrosso Foods  
Giorgio Foods Inc.
Love Beets
My Boy's Baking
Naked Granola
Nuts About Granola
Pretzel Pete (aka SB Global Foods, Inc.)
TorchBearer Sauces

Overall, Pennsylvania's specialty food industry was well represented with 50 different food exhibitors exhibiting throughout the show floors. Ajiri Tea, from Upper Black Eddy, PA, was honored as a Sofi Award finalist!

Giorgio Foods- Temple, PA
Torchbearer Sauces- Mechanicsburg, PA
Click here to see all of our pictures!

Want to hear what the companies thought about being in the PA Pavilion at the Fancy Food Show? 
Click here to listen to the testimonials!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Export Finance Programs

Posted by Corby Myers, Intern

Presentation Room
Are you curious about the various export finance programs available to you in the state of Pennsylvania?

On June 16, 2015, the World Trade Center hosted an Export Finance program. This event discussed the various export finance programs that are available to small businesses. 

Presenters included:
Export Import Bank of the United StatesRegina Gordin, Regional Director (Eastern Region)
United States Small Business AdministrationBob Elsas, Regional Manager (Export Solutions Group)
Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic DevelopmentJoan Wallett, Economic Development Analyst

Export Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank)

Regina Gordin
The Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that provides private export finance in order to sustain U.S. job growth, which is at no cost to American taxpayers. The Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the United States Government. Ex-Im Bank provides financing services and solutions to empower exporters of U.S. goods  and services. These services and solutions are available to small businesses.

Ex-Im Bank offers the following programs and assistance:
  • Export Credit Insurance
  • Working Capital Guarantees
  • Guarantees of Commercial Loans to Foreign Buyers
Data and facts of Ex-Im Bank:
  • In the fiscal year of 2014 Ex-Im approved more than $20.5 billion in total assistance to support an estimated $27 billion in U.S. export sales
  • 3,746 small business transactions
  • Almost 90 percent of Ex-Im Bank transactions are small business transactions
Other programs and services offered by the Ex-Im bank are Global Credit Express, Short term Account Receivable Insurance, Express Insurance, Medium-Term Financing, and Long-Term Financing.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Bob Elsas
The SBA has several trade finance services that are specifically designed to assist small and medium-sized enterprises expand or enter export markets. Exporter benefits include increased working capital, ability to enter new markets, ability to offer competitive terms, and to close more export sales.

The SBA offers the following programs and services:
  • Export Working Capital Loan Guarantees
  • International Trade Loans
  • Export Express

The Export Working Capital Program (EWCP) eligibility funds can offer up to $5 million in loans. SBA services can also finance existing export inventory with advance rates up to 75 percent. Last, there are personal guarantees of all owners of 20 percent or more of the business.

International Trade Loans can be combined with a separate EWCP loan. The maximum loan is $5 million. The loan is eligible for expanding an existing export market or developing new export markets or the applicant business must be adversely affected by the import competition and upgrading facilities or equipment will improve the applicant's competitive position in the market.  

Export Express offers lines of Credit and Term loans up to $500,000 and these loans are SBA approved, 90 percent is guaranteed by SBA  with a maximum of $350,000 and 75 percent on loans between $350,000 and $500,000.

Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development

Joan Wallett
Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority Program (PIDA) is offered by Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development and  provides working capital and accounts receivables lines of credits to PA businesses with the maximum of 250 full time employees and exporting products manufactured or assembled in Pennsylvania.

Exporters who are supported are the following:
  • Manufacturers
  • Wholesalers/Distributors
  • Service Companies
  • Trading Companies

Exports that are supported are component parts, manufactured goods, agricultural products, service, and lumber. There are two ways to meet financing needs: Working Capital Line of Credit for pre-export expenses and Accounts Receivable Line of Credit for post export cash. This funding is up to $350,000 and has a fixed rate for Line of Credit of 12 months for eligible businesses.

Should you wish to learn more about the programs or have questions regarding requirements, documentation, or services please feel free to give us a call at (717) 843-1090. Our team at the World Trade Center Harrisburg will be glad to provide assistance and answer questions you may have. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

New PA Transactions Act

Contributed by Josh Cohen, Hartman Underhill & Brubaker, LLC

Beginning July 1, 2015, Pennsylvania's business laws will be on the leading edge of statutory flexibility for business transactions.  For existing or new PA-based businesses with international operations, this presents a significant opportunity to adjust their legal structure to take advantage of tax rules, governance structures, ownership requirements, wealth planning or market-risk protection. 

The new Act not only modernizes Pennsylvania law governing all types of business entities (e.g., corporations, LLCs and limited partnerships), but it also creates new statutory flexibility to engage in transactions involving mergers, conversions (from one type of entity into another), divisions (splitting one entity into multiple other entities, of the same or different types), ownership interests exchanges, and domestication (moving the home jurisdiction to/from Pennsylvania).  The new law creates opportunities for a Pennsylvania business with international operations to more efficiently and effectively organize or re-organize its legal structure to implement its business plans.  Consult with experienced legal and financial advisors to see if the new law is advantageous for you.

Joshua D. Cohen, Esquire
Hartman Underhill & Brubaker, LLC
221 E Chestnut St  
Lancaster, PA 17602  

US-Bulgaria Chamber in America Promotes Trade & Investment Opportunities

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