The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration has awarded the North Dakota Trade Office a $129,000 grant to build on North Dakota’s success in expanding exports of agricultural equipment to Ukraine.
The federal grant was awarded based on a Trade Office proposal that details a long-term strategy for North Dakota’s farm equipment manufacturers and dealers to increase market share in Ukraine – a country with a rapidly growing market economy and a critical need for agricultural equipment.
To cover the three-year program’s costs, the Trade Office will match the grant with funding and in-kind services valued at $262,598.
“North Dakota’s Trade Office is an effective advocate for the men and women of the Peace Garden State,” said William G. Sutton, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services. “We are eager to work with this skilled, capable organization to help North Dakota increase its market share in the Ukraine. Furthermore, this partnership is another example of our commitment to help U.S. industry to become more competitive in foreign markets.”
The export-expansion project calls for the Trade Office and U.S. Commercial Service to develop a “Field Days” program in Ukraine whereby North Dakota companies can demonstrate their equipment to distributors and farmers from Ukraine and other Former Soviet Union countries. Field Days will include agricultural production classes and training for equipment service and repair.
The project also calls for:
* Working with the U.S. International Trade Administration and U.S. Commercial Service to further identify equipment distributors and other key buyers in Ukraine.
* Contracting an in-country representative to assist in the development of the Field Days events, building on existing business relationships and developing new business ties between North Dakota companies and equipment buyers in Ukraine
* Implementing an education program in conjunction with North Dakota State College of Science and other institutions to train foreign equipment distributors on customer management, inventory management, equipment service and repair and financing
* Working with the National Agricultural University of Ukraine to establish a Kiev-based showroom for North Dakota agricultural equipment
* Implementing a marketing strategy in Ukraine to support export sales programs and build brand identity for North Dakota equipment.
“A coordinated and sustained effort between machinery manufacturers, the North Dakota Trade Office and the U.S. Commercial Service is vital to maximizing our trade opportunity,” said Jack Oberlander, president of Fargo Products. “Ukraine is a large window of opportunity due to its rapidly growing economy, abundance of land rich with deep top soil, a banking industry willing to finance equipment purchases and farmers hungry for modern agricultural equipment.”
Agricultural machinery is North Dakota’s largest merchandise export, accounting for $817 million in international sales last year (54 percent of all exports). Ukraine – the 7th largest export market for North Dakota goods – purchased North Dakota agricultural equipment valued at $35 million in 2006. In the first three months of 2007, North Dakota equipment companies exported $26 million in equipment to Ukraine, export data compiled by the International Trade Administration shows.
“The grant will defray a significant share of expenses in our efforts to capture greater export sales in this very promising market,” Trade Office Executive Director Susan Geib said. “We are grateful for the funding, but also for the expertise and worldwide resources that our international service providers and the U.S. Commercial Service will bring to our program.”
North Dakota companies interested in participating in the Ukraine Export Expansion Program should contact the North Dakota Trade Office at (701) 235-3638.