Guyana’s Economy to Rapidly Expand

Guyana’s Economy to Rapidly Expand

Posted on December 5, 2019

Guyana is creating a buzz as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the country’s GDP will increase by a whopping 86% in 2020, an unprecedentedly high number and up from its 4.4% estimate in 2019. The only English-speaking country in South America is preparing for an economic boom after it’s set to become the 4th largest oil producer in Latin America when drilling begins in early 2020.

According to the IMF, the country’s oil revenues will climb from nil to $631 million by 2024. That number could reach into the billions as production ramps up. With a population roughly the same as North Dakota, the country will likely become the world’s largest oil producer (and wealthiest) per capita.

Guyana’s history includes colonization by both the Dutch and British. English is the official language and is used for business and education, however the majority of people also speak Creolese – a mixture of English and anglicized French – informally. The country’s culture has more in common with the Caribbean than South America.

The Guyanese predominately live on the coast and about half are in or near the capital, Georgetown. The vast majority of land is forest, including some of the continent’s largest areas of unspoiled rainforest.

By most accounts, the country does not have a plan in motion for its impending windfall other than a framework on paper to lift its population out of poverty. Its infrastructure needs massive improvement, as does its educational and health systems.

As it grapples with sudden wealth, Guyana’s administration hopes to achieve what other resource-rich nations, including its neighbor Venezuela, have not – wealth without ruin.

Export Education at Your Fingertips

Export Education at Your Fingertips

Posted on December 5, 2019

A well-organized, rich library of export education courses is at your fingertips right now with NDTO’s eLearning Portal. The eLearning Portal is accessed through NDTO’s website and is powered by Amber Road’s Global Trade Academy. Courses are updated regularly, and achievements are tracked on an individual basis.

NDTO’s eLearning Portal has three levels – Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced. Subjects include the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, EU vs US export controls, customs processes, export control and compliance, import compliance, free trade agreements and much more.

Each course has a detailed description, estimated time to complete, and is led by an instructor with in-depth knowledge and experience in that topic.

Amber Road’s Global Trade Academy designed these courses to ensure attendees are provided with current information and resources to efficiently and compliantly manage international supply chain operations.

NDTO offers the eLearning Portal to those that wish to educate themselves, their team, or improve career prospects.

The courses are even approved for continuing education credits through the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America.

NDTO’s eLearning Portal is free to NDTO members.

To get started, NDTO members may go to the Member Login page. Non-members may email to sign up.

When in Rome: Countries that Don’t Like to Say ‘No’

When in Rome: Countries that Don’t Like to Say ‘No’

Posted on December 5, 2019

Americans are known for being direct negotiators and saying no when they mean it, but this style of communication isn’t popular in the world. There are many countries in which saying no is frowned upon. Here we’ll look at a number of cultures that may say yes when they mean no, and how to find out if your negotiating counterparts fall under this category.

NDTO’s When in Rome series examines cultural issues that may affect exporters including business card etiquette, gift giving, small talk around the world and alcohol and business.

The first country on our list that doesn’t like to say no is Chile. Chilean culture values “saving face” and thus will not give negative feedback. Instead of no, you may hear maybe or possibly, or your Chilean customer may fall silent. If it’s your turn to offer a negative response, you’re encouraged to echo this practice in order to remain polite. If there is a negative issue to be discussed, a private conversation with the appropriate person is the way to go.

Thais literally cannot say no as the word doesn’t directly translate into their language. Rather, there is a phrase that means “not yes.” It’s important to pay attention to non-verbal communication in Thailand and any pauses in conversation, as they may be used to bypass saying no. Your negotiation counterpart may ignore a question or “not understand” a question instead of saying no. Pay close attention to your customers’ smile – it’s used to convey many things, including approval, displeasure and embarrassment.

Egyptians are more likely to give ambiguous answers than say no. You may hear, “We’ll think about it,” or “We’ll look into this” or even silence when the real answer is no. A yes may also be a softer way of saying maybe. It’s wise to adapt the same manner or risk appearing rude.

People in the United Arab Emirates also don’t like to give direct refusals. They may say yes to delay the negotiation or convey it’s possible. Further discussions are needed to clarify. This may vary when dealing with large multi-national companies that favor more direct communication.

Kenyan businesspeople are interested in preserving their own dignity as well as yours and will avoid giving negative answers, especially in a group setting. If there is an issue with the deal, they may tell you no by way of a metaphor or a story.

The common thread here is that businesspeople from these countries don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed or lose face, so they’d rather set the deal aside than reject it. This could be an opportunity for you to reevaluate your offer, or further develop the relationship to achieve more understanding.

These cultural cues as well as a ton of country-specific cultural information can be found on NDTO’s website within the A to Z World Trade Reference. Simply go to NDTO’s website and click on Member Login. If you’re new to NDTO, contact for access.

Boost your Business with an Export Assistant

Boost your Business with an Export Assistant

Posted on November 7, 2019

The North Dakota Trade Office currently has openings available for companies that would like to be matched with an export assistant. An export assistant is a talented NDSU graduate student that is seeking real-world experience at a company doing international business. Companies that employ export assistants gain a skilled team member in areas such as sales, logistics, accounting and computer science. The company may specify the skills, language and experience desired, and NDTO and NDSU will recruit accordingly.

Since 2006, the NDTO has identified, screened and placed graduate students, who are often international students, within North Dakota businesses looking to expand their global business opportunities.

North Dakota companies employ export assistants as a strategy to bring additional experience, country expertise and foreign language skills into their business. The program benefits the students as well as they receive a tuition waiver and intern wages from the company.

Export Assistants may work up to 20 hours per week during the school year and up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session. Students may work remotely if the company is not in the Fargo area.

The Export Assistant program has been highly successful with students hailing from countries near and far lauded for their contributions to the North Dakota workforce. The Export Assistant Program is open to all NDTO members.

For more information or if your company is interested in utilizing an export assistant, please visit or contact

WMI ID’s potential markets with RAISE research

WMI ID’s potential markets with RAISE research

Posted on November 7, 2019

When you quite literally have a world of choices, it’s helpful to narrow things down. That’s exactly why NDTO member Weather Modification International recently sought out the US Commercial Service - North Dakota (CS North Dakota) office’s RAISE research program. The RAISE program is able to complete a worldwide scan of potential markets and determine the top countries on which a company should focus their exporting efforts. So far, Weather Modification International’s RAISE research project results are impressive and the cost quite low, especially considering that they used an NDTO grant program to support it.

Weather Modification International (WMI) is a Fargo-based atmospheric research and cloud seeding company. They’re long-time exporters but are always seeking new frontiers in terms of business opportunities.

Alexandre Cyusa, who is part of the business development team at WMI, began the project by working with CS North Dakota office’s Heather Ranck and her team of export assistants. WMI supplied the research team with keywords and other criteria, and the team produced a worldwide country matrix that identified the best potential markets.

“RAISE was really helpful because there’s an ocean of possibilities,” said Cyusa. “But the research helped us narrow it down to targeted, specific countries.”

One of the target countries was Brazil, a country that WMI has long been interested in, but has proven difficult to penetrate.

With Brazil in focus, the RAISE research team came up with lists of local companies that may be potential buyers or potential partners in-country.

WMI selected five companies and the CS Brazil office then reached out to those companies to gauge their interest level. So far, WMI has begun relationships with several of those local companies and is positive they’ll soon have a partner in Brazil.

WMI was also able to support their research efforts by using NDTO’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) to reimburse up to 75% of the costs. STEP is open to all North Dakota small businesses and is currently accepting applications for reimbursement of RAISE project fees.

“We used RAISE to really guide our approach and keep a local lens on business development. Heather’s team is stellar, they made our experience stress-free and we felt included in the process,” said Cyusa. “Now in Brazil, we’ve got a nice momentum.”

To get started with RAISE, please click here. For more information on STEP and to apply for reimbursement for RAISE program research, please visit To learn more about Weather Modification International, please visit

NDTO Awarded Specialty Crop Grant 2019

NDTO Awarded Specialty Crop Grant 2019

Posted on November 7, 2019

The North Dakota Trade Office has officially been awarded Specialty Crop Block Grant 2019 funds for its project, “Establishing World Markets for Upper Midwest Specialty Crops.” This project has a total of $252,249 available for specialty crop exporters to participate in NDTO-led trade missions to the Middle East, Central America and South America.

Establishing World Markets for Upper Midwest Specialty Crops focuses on expanding exports of beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils or any specialty crop as defined by USDA here.  Funds for this project are provided by the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program and are administered by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

NDTO-led trade missions under this project include attendance at the Gulfood Show and an Egypt Trade Mission February 14-26, 2020, as well as a trade mission to South and Central America (dates and locations to be determined). Specialty crop funds will reimburse travel expenses associated with these missions.

If your company is interested in participating, please contact Jiwon Kim at For questions on applying for grants funds, please contact Rebecca Espinoza at

Press Release: More than 100 International Visitors Participated in the Big Iron International Visitors Program

Press Release: More than 100 International Visitors Participated in the Big Iron International Visitors Program

Posted on September 10, 2019

North Dakota hosted a large number of international visitors from more than 15 countries during the Big Iron International Visitors Program, the portion of the Big Iron Farm Show connecting international agriculture equipment buyers with North Dakota businesses. The International Visitors Program (IVP) was held Sept. 9-12 and was organized by the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) with the cooperation of the U.S. Commercial Service.

International delegates were welcomed on Monday, September 9 by Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford, who is also the chairman of the NDTO Board of Directors, and North Dakota companies at a lunch and exhibition at the Delta in Fargo. In the afternoon, delegates attended a farm tour and welcome reception. The Big Iron IVP continued throughout the week with participants meeting one-on-one with North Dakota companies and attending the Big Iron Farm Show, dealership tours and educational sessions.

Delegations from countries including Russia, Romania, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Kenya, Liberia and Australia met with equipment dealers and agribusiness professionals to learn more about North Dakota agricultural practices and technology, and purchase equipment. This year's Big Iron International Visitors Program had the highest number of international participants since 2013.

"We're excited to welcome more than 100 international visitors to learn about the innovation happening in our state's agricultural sector and to introduce them to North Dakota ag products and equipment," said Lieutenant Governor Sanford. "From specialty crops to machinery, we continue to find success by promoting our state's high-quality products to global markets with growing demand, and we look forward to forming new partnerships and strengthening existing relationships over these next three days at Big Iron."

Big Iron international visitors are recruited through the U.S. Commercial Service's office in Fargo and via their branch locations throughout the world.

"The U.S. Commercial Service takes the lead on Big Iron international recruiting efforts by leveraging its network of offices at U.S. Embassies and Consulates all over the world," said Heather Ranck, Director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Fargo, ND. "This year, our multilingual team member Joshua Erickson sent hundreds of personalized and timely messages and reminders to our vast network of contacts, and due to the effectiveness of this strategy, we expect strong participation."

North Dakota company participants included agricultural equipment manufacturers and dealers, agriculture service providers, commodity storage and processing equipment manufacturers, educational institutions and research specialists.

NDTO is a member-based, public-private organization dedicated to expanding North Dakota's exports through advocacy, education and expertise. All trade missions and reverse trade missions are designed to assist North Dakota companies in finding potential partners and making overseas sales; these initiatives are open to the public.


Press Release: North Dakota’s First Ethanol Focused Trade Mission Completed

Press Release: North Dakota’s First Ethanol Focused Trade Mission Completed

Posted on August 20, 2019

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring led North Dakota ethanol organizations and an NDSU biofuel research professor on a trade mission to Brazil this month with the goal of increasing North Dakota's share of Brazil's ethanol fuel market. Meetings and events took place August 5-9 and introduced North Dakota ethanol producers to Brazilian importers and the country's biofuel infrastructure. This was North Dakota's first ethanol-focused trade mission.

The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) partnered with U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) offices in Fargo, São Paulo and Recife, as well as with the Foreign Ag Service, to make this trade mission a success. In addition to Commissioner Goehring, delegates included personnel from Midwest Ag Energy, Red Trail Energy, the North Dakota Ethanol Council, NDSU, USCS and NDTO.

Brazil was the number one importer of U.S. ethanol in 2018. The trade mission occurred as Brazilian authorities debate on lifting ethanol trade barriers, which include a 20% tariff on imported ethanol after an annual quota of 158 million gallons is reached. That decision is expected August 31.

"The Brazilian market is quite promising, especially if the 20% duty is eliminated, and this trade mission helped us build mutually beneficial relationships with ethanol industry leaders," said Commissioner Goehring. "Brazil has aggressive goals for biofuel use-97% of cars produced in Brazil are already using flex fuel-and exporting to Brazil serves both the state's ethanol companies and North Dakota corn producers, who supply more than 80% of the corn processed into ethanol in North Dakota."

During the trade mission, delegates traveled to both São Paulo and Recife, where they attended briefings on Brazil's burgeoning ethanol market and met with ethanol importers and distributors.

Deana Wiese is the executive director of the North Dakota Ethanol Council and participated in the trade mission. "It was a valuable trip for North Dakota's ethanol industry," said Wiese. "With the significant increases in demand predicted in Brazil over the next decade, we're optimistic that our companies will be able to help fulfill that need."

The mission was enhanced by the temporary assignment of USCS International Trade Specialist Heather Ranck, who typically works out of the USCS-Fargo office but was placed in Recife in July and August. The USCS teams in Fargo, São Paulo and Recife played a central role and were able to secure top-level meetings for North Dakota companies.

"It was fascinating to spend a month working as the Principal Commercial Officer in Recife, Brazil, working to advance the North Dakota Ethanol Trade Mission and learn how the U.S. Commercial Service supports companies seeking business connections overseas," said Ranck. "When we can leverage U.S. government resources to build high-level connections with the right people in-country, everybody wins."

NDTO Director of Marketing & Events Lindsey Warner organized the mission and guided the group in Brazil. She predicts future visits to North Dakota from Brazilian ethanol companies.

"We know of one Brazilian ethanol company that's already planning to visit the area and meet with North Dakota ethanol producers," said Warner. "We see the most success for our members and exporters when we follow up a trade mission with an invitation to potential buyers to visit the region and tour the facilities. In this way, we're able to foster those relationships, and companies on both sides do business with people they trust."

Eligible trade mission participants were able receive reimbursement for approved travel expenses through North Dakota's State Trade Expansion Program (STEP ND). STEP ND is a financial reimbursement program designed to assist small North Dakota businesses in growing their international exports. STEP ND funds are provided by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and administered through NDTO.

The North Dakota Trade Office is a membership-based, private/public partnership that provides education, research, advocacy, organization, and leadership so that NDTO members and North Dakota companies can increase exports and grow their international business.

NDTO Member Profile: BWR Innovations LLC

NDTO Member Profile: BWR Innovations LLC

Posted on June 6, 2019

BWR Innovations LLC is focusing on the problems that have yet to be solved. The Fargo-based technology start-up has targeted the Internet of Things and energy solutions with a goal to revolutionize approaches to everyday problems. They’ve created products with multiple uses and are partnering with manufacturers abroad to export their solutions to markets worldwide. While all that may sound somewhat ambiguous, that’s kind of the point. They’re interested in the undefined, what hasn’t been done yet and using their meritocracy approach and cutting-edge technology to make it happen.

Founded in 2018, BWR Innovations is a team of seven with a bevy of experience in manufacturing and technology that’s using it towards ‘blue ocean’ markets. These markets are described by the authors of the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” as markets that don’t currently exist and are free of competition. On the flip side of ‘blue oceans’ are so-called ‘red oceans,’ which are saturated with competition and ‘bloody’ from cut-throat tactics. The BWR portion of their company name is short for Blue Water Resolute and champions this concept of unexplored solutions.

The team came together after having successful careers in other industries and ventures but felt a pull to create their own unique company.

“It just made sense to start our own business,” said Brian Messerschmidt, BWR Innovations’ sales and marketing manager. “We had so many ideas and it was time to do our own thing and do it right.”

Their first focus has been on telemetry and adding intelligence to legacy products, such as large-scale refrigerators, freezers and other HVAC systems. In one project, the team has designed and built a small electronics product that monitors the power and temperature of cooling systems of varying sizes, from grocery stores’ walk-in coolers to the slushy machines inside of convenience stores. The data is monitored and controlled via computer, cell phone or tablet and lets a user know how to optimize their cooling system to save money. It also alerts them if there’s a problem. This product and its telemetry software is designed in such a way to use minimal power and is able to run years on one battery.

“In grocery stores all over North Dakota, someone leaves at 10 p.m. and there’s no one around until 6 a.m.,” said Joel Jorgenson, BWR Innovations’ CEO and president. “Stores owners are often hit with large energy bills unnecessarily or there’s potential to lose thousands of dollars worth of product if an HVAC component stops working.”

They’ve tailored the product with small businesses in mind that need something inexpensive, simple to use and easy to install on the equipment that they already own. The idea is that grocery and convenience store managers can rest easy while they’re away from the store and there will be no product loss due to spoilage, inadequate temperature control or power surges.

A second area of focus is fuel cell technology. They’re building and testing fuel cells in series within a generator that will be able to seamlessly back up the power in large buildings and hotels. Another application is bed bug remediation where a heater, powered by fuel cell technology, will discretely heat a room to the appropriate temperature for bug extermination, without the conspicuousness of an exterminator truck and chemical processes.

With fuel cells, which use hydrogen and oxygen to produce energy, there is less noise, very little maintenance and zero emissions. Such a power source can solve an unlimited number of issues and the team is continuously identifying on new applications.

Messerschmidt and Jorgenson are both experienced exporters and are in discussions with potential partners in Norway and Taiwan to provide technology and manufacturing support. The global side of BWR Innovations will involve exporting their designs to a partner abroad who will manufacture the product at the point of sale to BWR’s specifications and quality standards. In this way, they can tailor the product to the specific market and cut down on shipping costs. Such a collaboration also takes advantage of the best ideas and practices from each side in order to create the most valuable product for the customer.

But the larger focus of BWR Innovations is on their team. Jorgenson and Messerschmidt have assembled a group that genuinely likes each other and enjoys working together. Jorgenson’s son Adam writes the software code, Tom Wohl is the Manufacturing Liaison and M State instructor Travis DeJong is their HVAC specialist. The group recently added Executive Director Sylvan Melroe, of Melroe skid steer and Steiger Tractor fame, to round out the team’s experience. They’re always on the look-out for additional talent.

“Culture and synergy are key,” said Jorgenson. “This is a really productive team, we enjoy what we do and we’re on track to accomplishing our goals.”

Press Release: Spectrum Aeromed, Minot Area Development Corporation Receive Global Business Awards

Press Release: Spectrum Aeromed, Minot Area Development Corporation Receive Global Business Awards

Posted on May 23, 2019

Spectrum Aeromed, a Fargo-based air ambulance medical interior designer and manufacturer, was named North Dakota's 2018 Exporter of the Year on Thursday, May 23 for its international expansion and commitment to innovation. In addition, the Minot Area Development Corporation, a nonprofit corporation that seeks to grow and diversify the Minot area, received the 2018 Service to Exporters Award for its dedication to building an intermodal facility and improving the transportation options for North Dakota exporters. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer presented the awards during the Global Business Awards ceremony, the annual international business event hosted by the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO).

"It's so important to recognize the individuals, businesses and organizations that are bolstering North Dakota's economy and also to demonstrate the support they have here at the NDTO and within our state government," said Simon Wilson, executive director of the North Dakota Trade Office. "We are a state dependent on exports and organizations such as Spectrum Aeromed and the Minot Area Development Corporation are pushing North Dakota to the world stage and providing further economic opportunities to North Dakotans."

The Exporter of the Year Award is presented to one North Dakota business each year. To win the award, the business had to achieve success in entering or further developing international markets, incorporate exports into their long-term business growth strategy and demonstrate innovation and an ability to overcome challenges in exporting. Also taken into consideration is how a company has displayed corporate social responsibility by working to improve the local and/or global communities they serve.

Spectrum Aeromed is based out of Fargo's Hector International Airport but sells their life-saving equipment all over the globe. For over 28 years, they've built a reputation worldwide for producing innovative, lightweight emergency medical service interiors for fixed and rotary wing aircraft that allow medical crews, including search and rescue operations, to travel further and faster with lifesaving equipment. The company's team also produces specialized life support solutions for air, ground and marine support applications. Spectrum Aeromed credits their success, including exporting to a current total of 23 international markets, to their pursuit of innovation and a problem-solving culture. They view challenges as opportunities to advance, and a means to accelerate their mission and vision of saving lives by being the best air ambulance provider in the world. They also give back to the community by sponsoring the activities of the Association of Critical Care Transport, a non-profit, grassroots patient advocacy group that is committed to ensuring that critically ill patients have access to the highest quality air and ground transport.

The 2018 Service to Exporters Award is given to a trade service provider that has demonstrated excellence in assisting North Dakota businesses in the international marketplace and a commitment to increasing North Dakota's trade volume.

The Minot Area Development Corporation (MADC) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to diversify and stabilize the economy of the Minot area. Founded in 1955, MADC is the lead economic development group for the city of Minot, and a key logistics and distribution advocate for North Dakota exporters. They've taken the reins on a project that will create an intermodal facility in Minot, bringing exporters the intermodal transportation options that are currently lacking in the state. MADC has gathered local and out-of-state entities, including ports, railways and ocean carriers, to collaborate on establishing reduced cost and increased security transportation options in North Dakota so that exporters can more easily transport their goods to international markets.

Approximately 75 people took part in the 2018 Global Business Awards ceremony, which was sponsored by the North Dakota Trade Office and its network of trade service providers. It was held on May 23 at the Radisson in Fargo. The event consisted of a luncheon and a keynote address by Meridith Elliott Powell, an award-winning author and business strategist that coaches audiences on business growth in the new economy and thriving in uncertainty. For more information, visit

The North Dakota Trade Office is a member-based organization that provides education, research, advocacy, and leadership so that North Dakota companies can develop and expand their export business. NDTO is a public-private partnership, led by a board of directors and chaired by North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.