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flag United States United States: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2001
Main International Economic Cooperation
The United States has free trade agreements in force with 17 countries. These are:

- Australia
- Bahrain
- Canada
- Chile
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Guatemala
- Honduras
- Israel
- Jordan
- Mexico
- Morocco
- Nicaragua
- Oman
- Peru
- Singapore

President Obama signed free trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama on October 21, 2011, but the agreements have not been implemented.

The United States is also in negotiations of a regional, Asia-Pacific trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement with the objective of shaping a high-standard, broad-based regional pact.

Non Tariff Barriers
Farm products are subject to both the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the USDA (US AGRICULTURAL DEPARTMENT) rules.
- Dairy products require an import license and quotas do exist. Products should conform to the strict sanitary and labeling rules. A description of ingredients is also required.
- Most fruits, vegetables and hazelnuts are subject to import licenses. The APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) analyses the risks of disease.
- Meat-based products can only be imported via ports with checking sanitary installations authorized by the USDA. The APHIS examines all goods.

Nearly 20% of all imports into the US are food and food products. In 2002, Congress passed the Bioterrorism Act as a part of its ongoing effort to fight terrorism. The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Bioterrorism Act) requires that FDA develops two systems: one to support the registration of facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food products intended for consumption in the United States and one to receive prior notice before food is imported or offered for import into the United States, beginning on December 12, 2003. Prior notice must be submitted electronically at Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Manufactured goods should also conform the American standards, which imply potential additional costs. Electric equipment should be systematically guaranteed by a third part. There are not less than 2,700 municipal or federal authorities able to distribute safety certifications, and they do vary from State to State. As there is no central source of information about the normative aspects, it is imperative to inquire beforehand with the help of an importer.
Whatever the nature of the product is, documentation is important, especially in terms of invoice and certificate of origin. The documentary formalities are notably very heavy for textiles import (above a part of 5 % in the composition of the textile product, all the products should be listed very precisely). The labeling rules can also generate important additional costs.

Finally the USA applies a certain number of embargoes, forbidding the import of products manufactured with components originating from several countries. For a list of countries for which the U.S. apply an embargo (full or partial), visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury's website.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
USA applies a Customs tariff that is among the lowest in the world. It is 3% on average.
The WTO gives a sheet summarizing the Customs tariffs by country.

Customs Classification
Depending on the origin of products. .
Import Procedures
Import procedure is subjected to a specific process. For more information, consult Tips for New Importers on CBP's Website.
Importing Samples
Sample goods are classified under chapter 98 of the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule, a chapter designated for specialty import provisions. Most imported samples are classified under HTS number 9811.00.60. Samples classified in this way must not be valued over USD 1 or must be permanently marked, torn, perforated, or otherwise mutilated so that they are not suitable as a saleable item. Sample imports classified under HTS classification 9811.00.60 and meeting the above requirements for marking are free of duty from any country of import.
For Further Information
US Customs and Border Protection
US department of Commerce
US State Department

Learn more about Traders, Agents in the United States on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
Consumer behavior has not been regarded in the United States as an environmental issue. However, there is an increasing awareness that the earth's ecosystems cannot support rapid and unlimited consumption of its natural resources.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
American consumer is very open to buy foreign products. Product supply is very diverse in the USA. American consumer is rich, and highly diverse in their interests and tastes. They value home comfort, foods and cars. However, the recession has changed the economic landscape and seems to have fundamentally altered the behavior of numerous US consumers, who are now learning to live without expensive products.
Consumers Associations
Consumers Union
Main Advertising Agencies
Right Media
Turn Inc
ContextWeb Inc

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
The U.S. is the undisputed leader of the retail industry. Of the world’s 10 largest retail companies in the world, five of them are from the US. The turnover of retail trade in the U.S exceeded 4,000 billion in 2009 and 14.4 million people were employed in the U.S. Retail Industry in 2010.

It is the ultimate test market for exporters. The country is open to all kinds of new products and technologies, but geographically it is very spread out and there is an intense competition. This market is, however, very demanding and requires a considerable amount of preparation, groundwork and long-term consistency.
Market Shares
Market segmentation is drawn along various lines, including age groups, ethnic groups, even social and religious groups, which has forced distributors to adapt themselves to this situation. One of the most marked consequences of this absence of homogeneity is the emergence in the past few years of “Specialty Stores” such as (Home Depot, Best Buys etc) which currently represent 11% of retail sales. In fact, the American consumer is unique because of his demanding nature, the importance he attaches to price, and his product disloyalty. It is thus incumbent upon distributors to continuously adapt themselves to the market, and to engage in well-targeted marketing efforts in order to win the loyalty of the consumer. The majority of sales, however, are still achieved by large distribution chains:

- Wal Mart ( 4000 outlets)
- The Kroger Co.
- Sears Roebuck & Co (bought by Kmart).
Organizations in the Retail Sector
National Retail Federation
American Wholesaler Association
International Council Shopping Centers
National Association of Convenience Store

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
All coasts of the country have important, highly computerized ports, automated for a fast distribution of the goods (especially in containers); some of them offer a direct connection towards waterways.


The network in place for goods transportation is much wider than the one of travelers and concentrates on its own 30% of total goods transport.

An important deregulation took place on the American railway freight market in the 80s, and since then, the part of total freight transport increased to more than 40%.

Port of Charleston
Port of Houston
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Port of Los Angeles
Port of Miami
Port of Boston
American Association of Port Authorities
Port of San Francisco
Port of Harlingen
Port of Seattle
Port of Tacoma
List of U.S Airports
Sea Transport Organizations
US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration
Air Transport Organizations
Federal Aviation Administration
Road Transport Organizations
U.S Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration
Rail Transport Organizations
Federal Railroad Administration

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The USA is leading industrial power in the world, highly diversified and technologically advanced; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Abacus Construction Index USA - A professionally edited directory containing product guides which profile more than a thousand leading suppliers of construction products in the USA.
AED Member Finder - Dealer, manufacturer, services supplier, used equipment, etc. Provided by the AED, the Association of Leaders in Equipment Distribution.
AgExport Links Database - The AgExport Links Database is designed to create a direct contact with the service companies who specialize in agriculture exporting. This tool can quickly search the database to identify export service providers who can offer expert assistance.
American Translators Association's Online Translation Services Directory - Database of translators and interpreters profiles and language services companies.
Canadian and US Organic Businesses - Members of the Organic Trade Association.
Dairy Cooperatives - Members of the National Milk Producers Federation.
Dairy Producers - Associate members of the National Milk Producers Federation.
FindLaw Lawyer Directory - Detailed profiles of attorneys from across the United States.
Franchise Direct USA - Browse franchises listed by industry. Choose the best franchise opportunity from these industry categories.
Global Export Import Company Directory - This directory covers over 270 countries and territories worldwide and handles over 150,000 business categories and industry-specific sectors. It contains nearly 300,000 pages both static and dynamically generated ones.
IQS Directory - Industrial manufacturers directory in the U.S. Lawyer Directory - Directory of lawyers and legal information in the US.
Leather clothing manufacturers - Clothing wholesalers and manufacturers in the US.
Robotics Online - Online resource for industrial robotics in Canada and the U.S.
US Dairy Export Council - Supplier Directory - Directory of US dairy product suppliers.
Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America - Business services, material handling, warehousing & logistics, etc.
World port links - USA & Canada - Links to major ports in USA and Canada provided by - 700 USA wholesale suppliers listed by categories. - USA - Directory of companies in the USA.
Export Yellow Pages - Export Yellow Pages in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Franchise Gator - Business and franchise opportunities directory for entrepreneurs.
Manta - U.S. business directory.
Members of the NCBFAA - Members of the National Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc.
Pennsylvania Businesses - Search tools intended to help locating a business in Pennsylvania, provided by PA SourceNet.
PlanetUS - A search engine for companies in the United States.
Thomas Net - Search ThomasNet to find manufacturers, distributors and service providers.
ThomasNet - Database of Canadian and U.S. suppliers.
USCEA Directory - Chinese company members of the US-China Exchange Association.
Zipleaf - Business directory for several countries in the world.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
100 professional associations listed for the United States.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
U.S Chamber of Commerce
US Small Business Administration
National Business Association
Enterprises Federation
Administration of Small and Medium Enterprises
National Association of Manufacturers

Learn more about Service Providers in the United States on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Learn more about Sales in the United States on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: January 2015