NDTO Facilitates South America Virtual Trade Mission

NDTO Facilitates South America Virtual Trade Mission

Posted on August 5, 2020

The NDTO facilitated a virtual trade mission to South America with seven specialty crop producers and processors from North Dakota. Meetings took place in late July and early August, with more than 60 meetings. Chile, Colombia and Peru participated with great interest in ND specialty crops. In 2019, ND producers and processors exported more than $7 million in peas, lentils, and chickpeas to these three countries.

The virtual mission came to fruition as a result of the travel restrictions to South America, as the intended trade mission was set for spring 2020. Shifting with the current state of travel, NDTO is adapting to connecting businesses with international partners and continue to assist companies with their global business goals. Companies are eager to find ways to make connections and eager to continue doing business in this unique environment.

“While a virtual mission is no substitute for a trade mission, it is a means where our businesses can get connected to buyers and build relationships.” said Drew Combs, North Dakota Trade Office’s Executive Director, “NDTO is doing what we can to accommodate the situation in the world.”  He goes on to say that the virtual sphere can work well for some things, but international trade often requires meeting people, shaking hands, and getting out there to build relationships. “People still want to touch, smell, and see where things are actually produced before any sales are made.”

With limitation on travel, Combs and the NDTO team are continuing to connect buyers and sellers for conversations, introductions and start to establish relationships, so when the time comes for travel, some foundations are already built. “For North Dakota to stay competitive in the world market,” Combs says, it needs to get out and make relationships, not sit idle. “There really is no substitute for a face to face meetings. This is a band-aid but, this is the best we can do right now.” Throughout the virtual trade mission, companies met with prescreened buyers with clear objectives, as well as a team dedicated moderation, notes and translations to contribute to success overall of making connections.

Funding for this project comes from the ND Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block grant and will be utilized to increase market visibility and competitiveness of this specialty crops including peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas on a global scale.”

If your company is interested in future specialty crop projects, please contact Jiwon Kim at jiwon@ndto.com. For questions on applying for grants funds, please contact Amanda Nordick at amanda@ndto.com.

Funding for the Virtual Trade Mission to South America with NDTO was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant North Dakota (DA02321ACT08). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

NDTO Member Profile: SkySkopes

NDTO Member Profile: SkySkopes

Posted on August 5, 2020

“Drones are a pandora’s box of value” says Matt Dunlevy, CEO & Chairman for SkySkopes, a professional Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) company based in Grand Forks, ND. The company started in 2014, after Dunlevy picked up the idea that Grand Forks was the perfect place to start a UAS company with skilled pilots and UAS subject matter experts.

Dunlevy drives the vision for SkySkopes with his unwavering passion for aviation that “runs in his blood”.  He was hooked with his first solo flight in a glider at the age of 14 and first UAS system piloting at age 15. Inspired by his grandfather, a pilot in WWII and having piloted gliders throughout his lifetime, Dunlevy has shared his passion with students as an instructor at the University of North Dakota (UND) since 2014.

As part of the teaching staff at UND, Dunlevy is proud of UND students, highlighting that North Dakota pilots are impressive - they have great situational awareness, a huge emphasis on safety, solid aviation decision making abilities, and components training. SkySkopes hand picks students from some of the best institutions including UND, Kansas State and Embry Riddle to plan and fly their missions.

SkySkopes has built a reputation for problem solving using UAS systems in a variety of ways to safely and effectively get the job done.  Dunlevy touts that “every day is different, garnering a lot of our passion, nothing in the world is quite like it, when getting out on a drone operation.” So many hours of preparation go into each mission. Using their drone-based powerline stringing operation as an example, with intensive preflight planning, utilizing the right drones to be able to articulate and maneuver the powerlines and carry the literal weight that the job required was “half of the fun”. This is where, Dunlevy says, so much of the team’s passion and skills come out. Safety is top priority, and if drones with skilled pilots and teams like SkySkopes can safely and efficiently do what has traditionally been dangerous work, passion can be rewarded. Each achievement continues to push imaginations and capabilities of drone use further and further into the future.

With tight regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US has some of the safest airspace in the world, but there are still regulations with beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions. “The pilots in the US have lot of hoops to jump through to get advanced permissions such as BVLOS, and that makes our skies more safe” says Dunlevy; that also means pilots are well trained and take on many new challenges. With the FAA moving towards drone operation beyond line of visual sight, there will be more ingenuity on what can be accomplished with UAS pilots and systems. North Dakota Legislature has backed UAS technology with several players in the state with the hopes that ND will become a leader for this industry.

SkySkopes has been at the forefront in advocating innovation as boundaries BVLOS are being pushed, with successes internationally. The future of UAS is BVLOS, flying in similar ways to manned aircraft, miniaturizing the UAS technologies, such as radar and onboard equipment to make many projects safer, and more efficient.

SkySkopes is also making international and local impact during the recent pandemic, showing that drones can effectively be used to deliver supplies and sanitize high traffic areas, such as playgrounds and other community areas.

Working with the NDTO’s professional networks we were able to assist SkySkopes in procuring ethically sourced materials for their operations. The NDTO team connected SkySkopes with companies able to assist in procuring antiseptics, sanitization chemicals and other products needed for the drone chemical application project. as well as promoting their capabilities domestically and internationally. SkySkopes is expanding in many directions with innovative solutions as the need and uses for drones are boundless.

For more information on SkySkopes, please visit https://www.skyskopes.com/

USMCA Overview

USMCA Overview

Posted on August 5, 2020

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was initiated by all three countries on September 30, 2018 at the G20 Summit. Final ratification of the agreement came to fruition on March 30, 2020 with USMCA passing through each government’s authority and took effect on July 1, 2020. The new agreement will replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The updated comprehensive agreement builds off NAFTA and is characterized to have a more modern approach than the 1994 agreement. Included in the USMCA are more provisions on agriculture, intellectual property, automotive construction, environmental and labor standards.  Some of the most highly publicized sectors from this agreement are automotive and labor updates; however, there is much to be said for the updated agriculture and small/medium business changes as well.

Exports to Canada and Mexico are big business for North Dakota - in 2019, they accounted for $5.84 billion in exports combined. For North Dakota, highest exports to Canada and Mexico were mineral fuel/oil, machinery, and cereals, with cereal exports totaling $157 million to Canada and $84 million to Mexico.  As part of the new agreement, US originating wheat will no longer be subject to strict grading guidelines in Canada. New market opportunities and quotas have been created for dairy, poultry and eggs, and food. Remaining unchanged are zero tariffs on food and agricultural products. All tariffs that were at zero under NAFTA will remain at zero under USMCA.

Small and Medium sized Enterprises are also benefitting from the agreement, with a chapter devoted to their advancement, information sharing, and a committee to represent and promote these companies’ interests. The top two export destinations for US small businesses are Canada and Mexico, and with these new provisions, small businesses can anticipate reduced red tape, both at the borders with updated de minimis rates, online publication of laws required for customs clearance, and procedures to correct any errors. An online database for customs information will also be made available for trade communities.

Agricultural updates in the agreement will level the playing field for exports as well.  Canada has opened access to poultry (chicken, turkey and eggs), dairy markets with updated milk regulations, and no tariffs on whey and margarine. Mexico will have less restrictions on US cheeses. All countries agreed to non-discrimination for wine and distilled spirits and transparency commitments with distribution and labeling.   Trade distortion will be reduced to improve transparency, all parities have agreed not to use export subsidies, and Canada and the US have agreed to more regulations to ensure tariff-quotas are fairly administered.

In the manufacturing and the auto industry, it is now required that 75% of car components need to be manufactured in North America to avoid tariffs, which is an increase from 63% under NAFTA. Additionally, 40% of workers manufacturing automobiles must make wages above $16 per hour, on average. With updated labor laws, facilities with workers’ rights complaints must allow for easier accessibility for investigations.   The labor laws overall are believed to bring back some US manufacturing jobs by incentivizing US made goods, US manufacturing from manufacturing companies and automakers and allowing the US workers to compete on the same playing field.

Canada and Mexico are the largest trading partners with the US, and with updated regulations that include labor laws and environmental requirements all countries can be on the same page with the flow of goods under the USMCA.  For more specific information on USMCA, please see the links below.

US and Republic of Kenya Open Trade Negotiations

US and Republic of Kenya Open Trade Negotiations

Posted on August 5, 2020

The first round of virtual trade negotiations is underway between the US and Republic of Kenya, starting on July 8, 2020.   The comprehensive agreement seeks to serve as a model for trade across Africa and to mutually strengthen ties. For North Dakota companies there is much to be gained by strengthening these relationships.  According to the US Trade Representative Office, the top export categories to Kenya from the USA in 2018 were aircraft ($103 million), machinery ($41 million), plastics ($37 million) and electrical machinery ($31 million).

Increased market access to US farm and manufacturing equipment could occur with this new agreement, along with greater investment potential. Kenya imported $37 million in agricultural products from the US in 2018. Driving those numbers were grains ($10 million), wheat ($6 million), pulses ($5 million), vegetable oils ($3 million), and planting seeds ($3 million). In 2018, North Dakota exported $113,528 of product to Kenya, of that $103,000 was in agricultural machinery and parts. With more interest and a new reciprocal agreement, increases for in-demand products will likely be seen in the future.

This is only the second Free Trade Agreement the US has made with a Sub-Saharan African country since the FTA with Morocco in 2006.  This agreement has made Morocco the 55th largest export market for the US according the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Recent shifts in the US trade seek to ensure Africa is included in more trade talks moving forward. There has been a longstanding and steady relationship with the US and Kenya and hopes that renewed talks will expand throughout the continent and serve as a model for progress. Once finalized, the agreement is hoped to be a roadmap for other countries in the region doing business with the US.

With this agreement potentially years from completion, there is much more to come regarding US and Kenya relations. Here are some resources for a deeper dive:

Update on COVID-19

Update on COVID-19

Posted on March 16, 2020

Like many businesses across the state, NDTO staff will be working from home until further notice, but we are still available to assist you with any export related issues that may impact your business. If you need assistance, please email info@ndto.com and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

Even though this pandemic may have slowed your international business, NDTO does have resources available to you to continue to grow your business worldwide. For companies that qualify, the STEP program has funding available for certain market research and marketing activities. Please contact the NDTO for more information on how you can utilize our various services.

Below, are some useful resources for your business and travel questions.

Business Resources

Travel Resources

Press Release: North Dakota Trade Office Hires New Executive Director

Press Release: North Dakota Trade Office Hires New Executive Director

Posted on December 26, 2019

The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) is pleased to announce that after an extensive search process, current team member Drew Combs has accepted the role of Executive Director. He will lead and manage the administration, programs and strategic vision plan for the NDTO. Drew has nearly two decades of international and domestic experience in agriculture and energy, and has lived and worked in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

"Drew has the knowledge, experience and passion to lead the North Dakota Trade Office," said Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, NDTO's chairman of the board of directors. "We're especially excited about his background in agriculture and energy - pillars of North Dakota's economy - as well as his experience in logistics, a vital issue for our exporters."

Drew joined the NDTO in August 2019 as a Business Development Executive. Prior to his involvement with NDTO, he was Director of Minerals Management at the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands for over eight years. He has also consulted and worked with agricultural as well as oil and gas companies both domestically and internationally and gained a reputation for helping companies succeed in extremely complex and challenging markets.

"I am honored that our board, comprised of business and government leaders, selected me for this position," said Combs. "I look forward to leading a team dedicated to making a positive difference in North Dakota and its businesses while empowering people to expand trade across all borders." A proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Drew has a Bachelor's of Science Degree in political science and history from West Texas A&M University, and a Master's Degree in Energy Business with a logistics focus from the University of Tulsa.

The North Dakota Trade Office is a membership-based, private/public partnership founded in 2004 that provides education, research, advocacy, organization, and leadership so that NDTO members and North Dakota companies can increase exports and grow their international business.

Drew Combs Joins NDTO

Drew Combs Joins NDTO

Posted on October 3, 2019

The North Dakota Trade Office is thrilled to announce that we have a new team member! Drew Combs is NDTO’s newest business development executive and is strategically located in our Bismarck office to assist the western portion of the state. Drew has nearly two decades of international and domestic experience in agriculture and energy, and has lived and worked in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Prior to his involvement with the North Dakota Trade Office, he worked at the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands as the Director of Minerals Management, where he assisted in managing 2.6 million acres, most of which was within the Williston Basin.

Drew grew up raising beef cattle, and his first foray into the international marketplace was importing cattle from Europe and Africa. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from West Texas A&M, as well as a master’s degree in energy business from the University of Tulsa and is working on his proficiency in Arabic. He has a son and daughter with his wife Jannelle, and is a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

International Market Research Covered by STEP grant

International Market Research Covered by STEP grant

Posted on October 3, 2019

If you’re looking for a new way to find target markets and potential buyers for your small business, look no further. NDTO’s STEP program now reimburses costs for international market research provided by the U.S Commercial Service-ND office’s RAISE program.

The Rural America’s Intelligence Service for Exporters (RAISE) program is a nine-step process that produces a worldwide market comparison matrix based on your company’s products and preferences. The matrix highlights the top countries with the best potential for your product, and from these your company chooses the countries where buyers, competitors, market players, industry trends and live prospects will be identified. Finally, a strategy is developed to tackle one or several of the top markets.

The NDTO’s STEP program covers up to 75% of RAISE fees, which start at $495. The STEP program is funded in part through a grant from the Small Business Administration and is designed to assist small businesses in growing their international exports. For more information on STEP and to apply for reimbursement for RAISE program research, please visit www.ndto.com. To get started with RAISE, please visit http://www.nddec.com/index.php/raise.

Press Release: SBA awards North Dakota $326,865 State Trade Expansion Program Grant

Press Release: SBA awards North Dakota $326,865 State Trade Expansion Program Grant

Posted on September 19, 2019

FARGO, N.D. - The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) will receive a $326,865 grant to support export growth among small businesses through SBA's competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). This year's grant amount is a $79,251 increase over the dollars awarded in 2018.

"This year's increase in STEP grant funding allows additional opportunities for companies to either begin exporting or expand their current export operations," said Lindsey Warner, NDTO's director of marketing and events. "STEP grant funding helps companies travel to international markets as well as obtain access to in-depth market research provided by the U.S. Commercial Service office in Fargo."

The NDTO's STEP ND 2019 program will reimburse eligible North Dakota companies for expenses paid during international business activities, including foreign market sales trips, research and NDTO-led trade missions.

"SBA is proud to partner with the STEP grant winners and provide much-needed resources that help small businesses increase their sales by exporting," said Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton. "These grants are especially helpful as our country is in the midst of negotiating a number of trade agreements, including one between the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA). All of the Administration's work is aimed at modernizing and creating a better deal for America's consumers, businesses, including small businesses, and workers. The SBA's STEP partners not only help entrepreneurs increase and diversify their customer base; they also help to create and retain local jobs."

Today, trade represents nearly 58% of the world's $80 trillion economy, and 95% of the world's consumers are located outside the United States. Exporting is an important way for U.S. small businesses to grow revenue and boost local economies. STEP is designed to assist states with increasing the number of small businesses that export and the value of those exports.

"It is a little known fact that 98 percent of America's exports are driven by small firms that sell their products and services globally," said SBA Regional Administrator Dan Nordberg. "This federal STEP grant ensures that small businesses in North Dakota will have the tools necessary to expand and market their home grown products and services to international markets.  North Dakota has been a leader in supporting the export potential of small businesses and we're honored to partner with them once again on this important endeavor."

The 2019 STEP awards will help North Dakota assist their small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities. Exporting activities include: participating in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips, obtaining services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, accessing expertise in designing international marketing campaigns and export trade show exhibits, and participating in training workshops, as well as other important means of engagement.

"I'm glad to see the North Dakota Trade Office receive another STEP Grant to assist North Dakota companies with expansion in the global marketplace," said SBA North Dakota District Director Al Haut. "The increased award shows SBA's commitment to helping our rural small businesses succeed."

Expanding the base of small business exporters and improving the process to explore new trade opportunities is a key component of SBA's small business strategy. Since 2011, the STEP program has awarded approximately $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities and increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world.

Individual STEP awards are managed at the local level by state government organizations. The U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of International Trade administers the STEP awards at the national level.

How to Apply

The program will accept applications for activities occurring from September 30, 2019 through September 29, 2021. Selection of companies will be first-come-first-served, based on pre-approval of their STEP ND program application and export expansion plan. Any North Dakota small business as defined under SBA guidelines is eligible to apply. Information and applications for STEP ND 2019 will be available by September 30, 2019 on the NDTO website at www.ndto.com.

NDTO will facilitate STEP ND 2019 with the help of partners including North Dakota District Office of the SBA, North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC), North Dakota Department of Agriculture, North Dakota Department of Commerce and the U.S. Commercial Service.

About the North Dakota Trade Office and Small Business Administration

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.

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more visit www.sba.gov.

NDTO Member Profile: Crary Industries, Inc.

NDTO Member Profile: Crary Industries, Inc.

Posted on May 2, 2019

Surveying the outside of Crary® Industries, Inc., an equipment manufacturer in West Fargo, one can measure the success of the company by its changing rooflines. When Crary Industries first began to grow, they added another section onto the building. The more products Crary Industries built and sold, the more they added on, until they arrived at the current structure with its varied rooflines housing over 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The site is now home to a multitude of product lines, including Crary Ag, ECHO Bear Cat® and LOCKWOOD®, which are manufactured, assembled and tested on site, then shipped all over the world. The company credits its growth to surrounding itself with good people.

Reinhold Delzer began the business as Delzer Machine Shop, a manufacturer of combine attachments for harvesting sunflower seeds. When Delzer’s health began to fail, he sold the shop to Chuck and Joe Crary, neither of whom had any experience in manufacturing. When Delzer passed away, the community rallied around the small business, with NDSU students designing and drafting equipment, MSUM students helping with marketing and advertising and members of the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) assisting with purchasing and management.

The efforts worked and the small steel building in West Fargo with little heat and no running water slowly turned itself into the sprawling structure it is today. Crary Industries has three primary branches – Crary Ag, ECHO Bear Cat and LOCKWOOD.

Each branch has multiple product lines, with Crary focusing on ag equipment that maximizes farmer profitability, such as the Crary Air Reel®, Crary Wind System™, Big Top™ hopper extensions, Tile PRO™ drain tiling equipment and more. The LOCKWOOD brand originated in Nebraska and carries potato planting, harvesting and handling equipment.

ECHO Bear Cat is the exporting powerhouse of Crary Industries and manufactures chippers, shredders, stump grinders, trimmers and other outdoor power equipment that is shipped to nearly every country in the world.

Business Unit Director Tim Martin has been with the company for over 10 years and has watched the company’s export markets flourish. When he first joined Crary Industries, ECHO Bear Cat was already a global brand, but Crary Ag products primarily stayed within the U.S. and Canada. Over the last 10 years Crary Ag has expanded into Europe, Japan and South Africa. He attributes the company’s exporting success to once again surrounding itself with good people.

“We connect with dealers and distributors to be our boots on the ground, and rely on them to represent our brand, sell and market on our behalf. They’re more of a functioning sales arm for us.”

His team has a penchant for finding dependable overseas partners that know the market, are connected with buyers and can sell as well as service machinery.

The servicing part is key, Martin believes. If he had to give advice to a manufacturer just starting to export, he’d say don’t forget about the service after the sale.

“It’s easy to chase after today’s sale, but if you sell machinery, remember that machinery breaks and you must provide parts and service.”

Still, Crary Industries does all it can to ensure its equipment won’t be breaking for quite some time. They test 100% of their engine driven units, so each and every piece of equipment that has its own engine is tested by a person before it goes out the door. It’s part of their practice of quality control and keeping almost everything in-house, including parts manufacturing, welding, metalworking, assembly, painting and shipping. They even create their own custom pallets to support the shape and size of their equipment.

It’s all for the customer, Martin says. “We want Crary Industries’ brands to be known for their reliability and the support we give customers both before and after the sale.”

For more information on Crary Industries, visit http://www.craryindustries.com/.