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Did You Know: Advocacy Support for Small Business Exporters
July 13, 2017 Tatiana Bertolo, Office of Small Business

The Advocacy Center is based within the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its mission is to coordinate U.S. government resources and authority in order to level the playing field on behalf of U.S. businesses so businesses can compete in the global marketplace. It was created in 1993 with the understanding that the center would help advocate on behalf of U.S. exporters bidding on public-sector contracts with international governments or government-owned corporations. It’s important not to overlook this great resource for a small business exporter bidding on a foreign project or procurement competition.

Advocacy Process

First, the center recommends speaking to someone within the Advocacy Center before submitting a questionnaire because many cases can be solved or diverted to the appropriate government entity without formally going through the advocacy process. Once the business issue or situation has been verbally vetted by someone within the USG Advocacy Center, a questionnaire can be filled out here. Once the questionnaire is received, the Advocacy Center, along with other trade agency partners, will conduct their due diligence on the entire situation, and they will make a national interest determination to identify whether the submissions qualifies for USG support. Usually, companies need to demonstrate how the particular project or bid will positively affect the US economy, whether it’s an increase in exports, jobs, etc.

Once the company qualifies for USG advocacy support, the Advocacy Center will play the primary coordination role and will work with multiple agencies, partners, embassies and cabinet members through a variety of media (i.e., letters, calls, in-person meetings) to get the matter resolved as quickly as possible.

The Value-Add for Small Businesses

While the Advocacy Center cannot get involved in private sector commercial transactions, it can be the centralized advocate for small businesses and they can mobilize resources to ensure small businesses are getting a fair shot at winning foreign government bid/proposals.

“Commercial Facilitation”

It is a normal request to have U.S. embassy staff support U.S. companies abroad by setting up meetings with foreign officials, potential partners or distributors – or even potential foreign clients – which is called "commercial facilitation." However, please note that the Advocacy Center does not need to be involved with these kinds of exchanges as they only focus on advocating for specific tenders.

Learn More

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