ExportBOOST Helps US Companies Double Their Exports

By: Alexander Gordin

Fi3E BadgeInternational trade is thought to have its routes in 19th century BC with Assyrian merchants. Over centuries the business of exports changed dramatically with evolution in transport modes, advent of Incoterms, standardized shipping containers and computerized customs clearance.

Yet for all the progress and record $2.3 trillion amount, exports in the US still remain a complex and not terribly efficient process. Multiple players involved in exports are still largely silo(ed). Even at large companies export related functions like international sales, legal, shipping, banking, financing and insurance often have difficulty communicating with one another. Concepts such as international payment protection mechanisms, US content policy, or US flag shipping requirements are often misunderstood. Generally business approach to managing export transactions is reactive, rather than proactive. Situation is even more difficult in small and mid-size businesses where resources are significantly more scant. A relatively small percentage of businesses export. Of those that do, a large portion exports to only one country. Expanded exports of goods and services represent amazing possibilities not only to help companies grow their profits and shareholder returns, but also to benefit our nation’s economy by creating new jobs and generating additional tax revenues. President Obama’s National Export Initiative has served as a catalyst to spur job growth and along with general economic recovery led to a resurgence of manufacturing activity. More needs to be done, and companies should focus on exports as a fundamental part of their business activities, rather than an afterthought.

The entire export ecosystem is ripe for disruption and entry into the technological age. I can envision a day in the very near future when shipping containers of foodstuffs, plane loads of licensed computer equipment, dozens of Ro Ro tractors, or construction cranes will be as simple as buying individual items on eBay or Amazon. Of course handling export transactions is infinitely more complex and requires signed multilingual contracts, letters of credit, export credit and freight insurance, licensing, quality inspections and complex shipping arrangements. Thus the disruption process that is being put in place needs to account for the nuanced complexity that characterizes exports. Step one of the transformation is already on the way.

ExportBoost™ – a  curated service guaranteed to help small and mid-size companies to at least double their present exports in 18 months – was recently unveiled

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by the Broad Street Capital Group (“BSCG”) . Specifically developed for US manufacturers and distributors with revenues of between $5 and $750 million and for providers of professional services , ExportBoost™ uses proprietary export building met

hodology and tools such as: Fi3E™ Export Indices, XPORTINSURE™, FinanceABLE™ and EZShip™ to greatly simplify export operations and mitigate international business risks.

ExportBoost™ was designed to help small and medium companies who are either experienced exporters, or just looking to start their international expansion to significantly grow their exports. ExportBoost™ service has two tiers – one where the exporter is guided by the Broad Street Capital’s professionals and implements the program internally and the second where Broad Street Capital Group implements ExportBoost™ on its client’s behalf. In either case, the clients will be offered a unique guarantee, should they follow the program and their exports do not at least double in 18 months, Broad Street Capital Group will refund all the fees paid by the clients for the ExportBoost™ service.

ExportBoost™ is part of the product portfolio being developed by the Broad Street Capital Group, and its partners. to greatly streamline and finance international trading operations. The project code named “Barbell” is scheduled to be unveiled at the Broad Street’s annual conference later this year.

Dollar’s Rise Threatens Manufacturing Recovery

Greenback surges to 14-year high in wake of Trump win and Fed move, making U.S. goods more expensive abroad

 By ANDREW TANGEL and JOSH ZUMBRUN WSJ.com

An employee works on the interior of a Boeing Dreamliner 787 in North Charleston, S.C. Boeing last week cited 'fewer sales opportunities and tough competition' when it laid out plans for further layoffs. An employee works on the interior of a Boeing Dreamliner 787 in North Charleston, S.C. Boeing last week cited ‘fewer sales opportunities and tough competition’ when it laid out plans for further layoffs. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

The U.S. currency, which has strongly appreciated over the past two years, surged to a 14-year high in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates, adding a wrinkle to the president-elect’s pledge to boost factory employment.

Certainly, a strengthening dollar is a sign of rising optimism for the U.S. economy as the stock market also soars to new highs. Prospects of higher inflation and rising interest rates encourage investment in U.S. assets, reflecting growing hopes for better returns.

A strengthening dollar increases the currency’s purchasing power: If imports are cheaper, U.S. consumers would have more money to spend. That in turn could boost retail sales, a key driver of economic growth, and engender more confidence in the U.S. overall.

However, while good for U.S. consumers and companies that purchase components abroad, the dollar’s rise promises to hit U.S. manufacturers reliant on sales in overseas markets.

Many have started to dial back revenue forecasts and look for ways to cut costs. 3M Co. and United Technologies Corp. have signaled a strong dollar could make it harder to boost sales in 2017.

Manufacturing here in the U.S. has become a lot more challenging than we’d anticipated.

—Neal Keating, Kaman’s chief executive

Kaman Corp., a Bloomfield, Conn.-based maker of airplane parts, has seen its European rivals’ prices drop as the euro declined against the dollar. To compete, Kaman has invested in facilities in Germany, and acquired a company with operations in the Czech Republic.

“Manufacturing here in the U.S. has become a lot more challenging than we’d anticipated,” said Neal Keating, Kaman’s chief executive.

Some dealers of Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles and Caterpillar Inc.’s bulldozers and excavators are bracing for the companies’ Japanese rivals to capitalize on the yen’s weakness against the dollar to undercut them on price. Caterpillar has said the yen’s weakness makes competition harder. Harley declined to comment.

In interviews, several business leaders said Mr. Trump’s pledges to promote business would more than counter the sting of a stronger dollar, especially if there are lower taxes and lighter regulatory burdens. They are hopeful Mr. Trump’s plan to overhaul infrastructure will spark economic growth, and that higher domestic sales could make up for any decline in exports.

“There’s bigger fish to fry,” said Mike Haberman, president of Ohio-based construction-equipment maker Gradall Industries Inc., which exports about 20% of its products. “I’m not panicked about the dollar.”

Jerry Johnson, president of the farm, ranch and agriculture division of Blount International Inc., a Portland, Ore., maker of outdoor products, said the strong dollar may be offset by declining import prices. About 50% of the components used in Blount’s products—they include mowers, log splitters and rotary cutters—come from overseas, Mr. Johnson said.

The dollar has been relatively weak against most of the world’s major currencies over the past decade. This helped U.S. exports rebound swiftly following the financial crisis.

By the end of 2010, exports reached record levels and continued to grow, hitting $598 billion per quarter in 2014. Employment in manufacturing began to recover, and optimism grew the U.S. could be entering a manufacturing renaissance.

The dollar has since risen sharply against currencies such as the yen and the euro. Meanwhile, the British pound dropped in the wake of the country’s June vote to leave the European Union. Earlier this month, the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates, and hinted at more tightening next year.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against 16 others, hit a 14-year-high last week.

Bond yields have been rising amid expectations of more growth and inflation during Mr. Trump’s administration. The dollar rally could undermine his agenda by making exports more expensive and imports cheaper.

Collateral Damage

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Trump transition team officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

For some companies, a stronger dollar will likely limit interest in expanding domestic manufacturing.

China’s yuan has fallen to its lowest level against the dollar in eight years, a move that could entice manufacturers to keep factories there rather than following in the steps of those that have brought some operations back to the U.S.

Mexico’s peso is down 13% against the dollar since the election, making it more tempting to move U.S. factories south of the border, despite Mr. Trump’s vows to punish firms that shift jobs abroad.

Emerson Electric Co. last week said the stronger currency worsened the extent of its orders’ decline from September through November by 2 percentage points. Overall, they fell by 7%.

Boeing Co., the nation’s largest exporter, last week cited “fewer sales opportunities and tough competition” when it laid out plans for further layoffs at its commercial-airplane unit next year after cutting staff by 8% in 2016.

Boeing didn’t mention currency fluctuations. The strengthening dollar has helped rival Airbus Group SE, which for years wrestled with an appreciating euro. Boeing declined to comment. An Airbus spokesman said the tailwind the company gets from the dollar is muted because 40% of its plane parts are purchased from the U.S.

Many manufacturers have begun to reduce their workforces; employment in manufacturing fell by 51,000 from January 2015 through November 2016, according to Labor Department data.

Ben Herzon, senior economist at Macroeconomic Advisers, an independent economic forecasting firm, conducted a simulation for The Wall Street Journal to illustrate how a further 10% increase in the strength of the dollar would ripple through the U.S. economy.

Over the next three years, companies would gradually adjust, by among other things boosting capacity at foreign plants while reducing at home, changing their supply chain or increasing the use of automation.

If the dollar doesn’t strengthen further, inflation-adjusted gross domestic product would cumulatively rise by 6.3% over the next three years. If it strengthens by a further 10%, that growth would be 1.8 percentage points lower, or 4.5%, according to Macroeconomic Advisers’ simulation.

The pain of a further 10% dollar rise would be especially concentrated in U.S. factories. Manufacturing production would be 3.6 percentage points lower under a strong dollar, inflation-adjusted imports would be 3.6 percentage points higher, and real exports from the U.S. to the rest of the world would be 6.2 percentage points lower.

Initially, U.S. consumers would stand to benefit by paying lower prices for imported goods.

“It’s good for consumers, as long as they’re still working,” said Mr. Herzon. As time goes on, this benefit will also be offset by the job loss in the manufacturing sector, he said.

Write to Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com and Josh Zumbrun at Josh.Zumbrun@wsj.com

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