How CMA Can Help Members Navigate the Global Credit Landscape, by Mike Mitchell

Companies cannot ignore the fact that there is a whole world out there to sell to, and despite thct that current global economic conditions do not favor U.S. exports, there are tremendous opportunities for companies that can and have figured out how to sell to foreign markets on favorable terms. Global commerce is more than a trend – it is a certainty, and because export sales require the support of the credit operation, CMA will continue to include international credit in all education and training programs.

In an effort to determine how far CMA should go to support international credit sales, I have recently attended events that focused on the broader topic of exporting and events that addressed specific credit issues related to international sales. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far.

Most emerging markets are outside the U.S. Middle class growth and urbanization is taking place in China, India, and throughout Asia, not in the U.S. It is estimated that the global middle class will triple in size to 4.9 billion people by 2050, and they will spend an estimated $56 trillion by 2030. Two-thirds of that spending will come from emerging markets. This will create not only a huge opportunity for growth, but may put a demand on U.S. companies to sell into emerging markets just to stay competitive and not get left behind.

A surprising number of exporters are small and medium-sized enterprises (just like most of our members), and new free-trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), are giving SMEs greater access to emerging markets.

There are a surprising number of Federal and State agencies that provide free and low-cost assistance for exporters. U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Services, Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers, Export Assistance Centers, the newly reauthorized EXIM Bank, and a vast network of partner programs are there to help your company export. The challenge is that there is overlap among these agencies and the overwhelming number of resources can be difficult to navigate. CMA has established strategic partnerships with the International Trade Administration (U.S. DOC), the SBA in Glendale, CA, and the EXIM Bank to better understand how to bring these resources to our members that currently export or plan to in the near future.

Due to the cost of Letters of Credit to foreign buyers, more international sales are shifting to open credit terms, which decreases barriers to sales but increases the risk. At CMA’s upcoming CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, a panel of seasoned international credit managers will discuss why overseas customers are demanding more credit in 2016, tools for evaluating the creditworthiness of foreign companies, when to (or not to) extend higher credit limits or longer terms, what are the real risks today of giving payment terms abroad, and companywide credit strategies for growing international sales.

If your company already sells outside the U.S. and your credit department already has a solid process in place for managing trade risk, then much if not all of what I’ve said is not news to you. However, my guess is that many of you have little to no experience exporting, and chances are that if your company produces a product that is marketable to other countries, you will be asked to provide support for international sales. The question is, how can CMA help you find the knowledge, information, services, and professional training to ensure you are ready to take on the challenges of global commerce? As we continue to explore trends in international sales, let us know how CMA can offer assistance to your company to help you win in the global marketplace.

Rich Swanson, USFCS Pacific South Region, and Mike Mitchell, CAE, President & CEO, CMA (Credit Management Association) sign the MOA at the CreditScape Conference at the Palms Hotel, Las Vegas on Thursday, October 16, 2014.
Rich Swanson, USFCS Pacific South Region, and Mike Mitchell, CAE, President & CEO, CMA (Credit Management Association) sign the MOA at the CreditScape Conference at the Palms Hotel, Las Vegas on Thursday, October 16, 2014.

International Business — How Understanding Culture Will Help You Get Paid, by Eddy Sumar

When someone signs a contract to do business with your company, you allow them to do so with the expectation that they will pay you. In the U.S., there are laws that help protect your assets to ensure that the contract is enforceable, but what happens when you’re dealing with foreign nations? Are there resources (like the government) that can help when your customer doesn’t pay?

In this global economy, there are ingredients to succeeding in getting paid internationally. One of the key factors that I always recommend to my clients is to make sure you understand the culture of any company you’re selling to overseas. For instance, there are many cultures that have a strong family element to them. In some of those cultures, it is probable that the person who answers the phone is a daughter/son/spouse of the company owner. If that person has a negative experience with you (even if it’s perceived), you may never get to talk to the owner to enforce your contract and get paid.

There are plenty of other resources that can help as well. Join me as we cover this topic in detail at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Eddy A. Sumar is the President & Founder of ERS Consulting Services. He is also the director of education and community outreach for CMA, and will be speaking at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit. He can be reached at 909-481-9869 or ealberto@aol.com.

U.S. International Trade Administration to Offer Educational Resources to CMA Members

Credit Management Association® announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with the International Trade Administration (ITA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), titled the “U.S. Trade and Investment Expansion Partnership,” will help credit and risk management professionals gain access to educational resources needed to expand their businesses nationally and globally.

The agreement, which represents a relationship between CMA and the U.S. Department of Commerce, will promote international trade to CMA’s members by increasing awareness of the economic benefits of exporting, and educating them on trade activities as a job creation and growth strategy. As part of the agreement, CMA will work with the DOC to increase trade and business investment awareness among the U.S. business community, emphasizing the small- and medium-sized businesses that make up CMA.

Through this program, CMA and the DOC will jointly develop a series of educational webinars on topics such as the importance of trade and business investment and associated benefits to the economy, export and business investment opportunities, and ITA’s role in opening foreign markets to U.S. exporters. Additionally, this partnership creates the platform to engage in a dialog between CMA and the DOC. The program expands upon the resources of another CMA-sponsored service, the Global Trade Credit Consortium, which offers assistance for companies that sell internationally by providing access to letters of credit, international collections, banking resources, credit insurance, international credit reports and education and training.

“In this global economy, CMA is constantly evaluating which programs and services it offers that will help our members the most,” said CMA President Mike Mitchell. “Participation in this project furthers CMA’s programs such as the Global Trade Credit Consortium which encourages the economic growth of its members and other small and medium-sized businesses, and gives them access to some high-powered government resources on these topics. CMA is helping its members to better understand how to navigate and effectively compete in a global marketplace.”

“The function of the ITA is that it strengthens the competitiveness of U.S. industry, promotes trade and investment, and ensures fair trade through the rigorous enforcement of U.S. trade laws and agreements. ITA works to improve the global business environment and helps U.S. organizations compete at home and abroad,” said Eddy Sumar, CMA Director of Educational Services. “The goals of this U.S. Trade and Investment expansion partnership are to increase the economic benefits of trade; educate the public on trade activities as a job creation and growth strategy; to create general awareness of ITA and other government resources, and encourage U.S. businesses interested in exporting and foreign businesses interested in investing in the United States to seek the assistance of ITA. I can’t wait to announce some of the great training programs that we have planned.”

“In the coming months, CMA members will be reading more about these developments via CMA’s social media sites, blog, newsletter and other communications. I am very excited about the growth possibilities of this program,” Sumar added.

These educational sessions will complement the nearly 100 annual seminars, webinars, courses, conferences and training sessions that CMA offers. For details on other offerings, visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events.