Why Tap into International Markets?

By: Omari Wooden

Why tap into international markets? Bottom line: exporting increases your sales and competitiveness. In 2013, American exports rose to $2.3 trillion. Don’t miss out!trade

If you’re not sure where to start, the best bet is to look directly at the data. We can help. Every month, the U.S. Census Bureau releases detailed information on over 9,000 export commodities and 18,000 import commodities. This information can help you track the global marketplace for your product, identify possible opportunities to expand your business and make informed decisions.

Another option is for U.S. businesses to attend international trade shows. Why?

  1. That’s Where the Money Is – Shows Are located in High-Growth Markets That Attract Buyers With Money to Spend
  2. Surrounded by Experts – Help Is Available Before, During and After the Show
  3. Government Help – U.S. and State governments can help you get the most out of International Trade Shows.

View this video for highlights on different opportunities you can find at International Trade Shows, such as the Arab Health Trade Show in Dubai.

For more information on attending international trade shows, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service at 1-800-USA-TRADE (872-8723).

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DON’T File on a Hunch!

By: Nidaal Jubran and Clara E. Santiago-Bello

When filing in AESDirect, you may be tempted to only fill out required data fields (marked in red) and ignore the conditional data fields (marked in blue). You may be surprised to know that it’s very uncommon for an AES record to contain only the data fields marked in RED. However, in most cases, at least one conditional field is required.cartoon guy at crossroads

Most of the conditional fields are located in the Shipment Information and Add Commodity Line sections in AESDirect and AESPcLink. Let’s define the most common conditional fields in these sections and find out when they are required.

Shipment Information

  • Transportation Reference Number: This is required for vessel shipments . This is the booking number provided by the carrier.
  • Port of Unlading: This is required for vessel shipments and all shipments between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This is the first port where the vessel is offloaded from the exporting carrier.
  • Carrier SCAC/IATA: This is a 2, 3, or 4-digit character code that identifies the carrier. This is required for Vessel, Rail, Barge, Truck and Air shipments.
  • Conveyance Name: This is the name of the carrier company or vessel name for ocean shipments. It is required if the Carrier SCAC/IATA code is reported.

Commodity Line

  • Schedule B or HTS Number: This is a 10-digit code that classifies the merchandise you are shipping internationally. Most shipments require this information. The only situation when it’s not required is if you are exporting household effects or tools of the trade. An example might be if you are physically moving to another country, and you are exporting all of your personal effects.
  • 1st Quantity: This is required for most Schedule B or HTS Numbers. However, in some cases the 1st Quantity may not be required. Please take a look at the ‘Units for 1st Quantity’ data field after you have entered your Schedule B or HTS number. This will tell you if the 1st Quantity is required. If the Units for 1st Quantity shows ‘X-NO UNITS REQUIRED’, then you do not need to report the 1st Quantity.
  • Origin of Goods: This is required if a Schedule B or HTS Number is provided. This is not required for shipments of household effects or tools of the trade. If required, you must determine whether your goods were manufactured, assembled, or grown in the United States or abroad.

For additional information on conditional data elements, review Section 30.6 of the Foreign Trade Regulations.

If you need clarification on reporting conditional data elements to the AES, contact the AES Branch at 800-549-0595, option 1.

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Time for Report Cards! – Your AES Compliance Report

By: Stephen Jackson

First things first—if you file electronic export information (EEI) to the Automated Export System (AES) but have no clue about this “AES Compliance Report” that we’re talking about – CALL US NOW! (Okay, maybe read the blog first, then call, but you get the point –it is important!)

What is an AES Compliance Report?

An AES Compliance Report gives you a snapshot of how your company performed in complying with the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) over the previous three months.

What does it look like?

Compliance Sample Image

Notice at the top of the AES Compliance Report the date that the report covers. In this example, the report shows a company’s mock information sent in March 2014. We also provide the Compliance Rates and Total Shipments for the last three months of reporting at the top half.

On the second part of the page, we identify the total number of unresolved fatal errors that your company incurred through the date the report was sent and the total number of compliance alerts for the reporting period. The number of fatal errors is a running total and is cumulative through the date the report was sent, whereas compliance alerts are based on the reporting period.

Can my rate change from month to month?

Have you ever received your AES Compliance Report and noticed that a previous month’s percentage has changed? Why is that? As mentioned earlier, AES Compliance Reports give you a snapshot of your company’s compliance for the current month. We say a “snapshot” because compliance is an ongoing effort by your company. If AES data has changed for a shipment you reported last month, you must go in and make that change to your AES record (FTR 30.9). If this change causes other AES errors, your AES compliance rate may be affected negatively. On the other hand, correcting a fatal error will increase your AES compliance rate.

If you are not receiving your AES Compliance Reports or simply have questions about your report, please give us a call at 800-549-0595 option 1. We would love to work with you on improving your export compliance!

For more information, please follow this link: Compliance Reports.

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January 2014 Data Release Includes Lots of Changes

By: Fay Johnson

March 7, 2014

The trade deficit in goods and services increased $0.1 billion to $39.1 billion in January.  This reflects an increase in exports of $0.6 billion to $192.5 billion, and an increase in imports of $0.6 billion to $230.3 billion.  These relatively small month-to-month changes, did not create many highlights this month. However, we have been working hard to provide you, the data user, with better service.  In particular, there are three things that have changed this month in hopes of achieving this:

  1. Seasonal Adjustments by Geography – This month’s release has a new exhibit (19) which has seasonally adjusted data by selected countries and area data.   If you are excited about this as we are, you will want to know more information.
  2. Economic Indicator API – The economic indicator time series data sets are now available through the Census API.
  3. HS-NAICS Concordance We implemented revisions to the Harmonized System (HS) – North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) concordance. These revisions are the result a thorough review done to better align these two classification systems.
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Coming to an Area Near You! AES Compliance Seminars

Audience Listening To Presentation At Conference 2-27-2014







How well do you know the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) and the Automated Export System (AES)? The AES Compliance Seminars provide you with in-depth training to help you understand the regulations and utilize the AES.

On the first day, subject matter experts present on topics such as how to maintain compliance with the FTR, classify your products and file in the AES. On the second day, AESPcLink workshops provide attendees a hands-on training to file export information. They are offered in both English and Spanish.

For locations of our upcoming seminars, go to the registration page.

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How Do I Report a Foreign Trade Zone with Upcoming Regulatory Changes?

By: Michael Simmons

Did you know in addition to Foreign Trade Zones having a general purpose zone and a sub zone, that some zones also have a site location?  Previously only importers were required to report the site identification number as part of the FTZ identifier.  Effective April 5, 2014, exporters will now also be required to report site locations using the full seven digit reporting format in the Automated Export System.

When exporters report in-bond code 67 (withdrawn for immediate export), or in-bond code 68 (withdrawn for transportation & exportation), you are required to provide a FTZ identifier.  Failure to report will generate a fatal error response message.  The new FTZ identifier format is shown below.

FTZ number imageWhen exporting merchandise from a FTZ, use the following examples below to ensure accurate reporting:

  • If FTZ 128 does not have a subzone or site location, the correct format would be 1280000.
  • If FTZ 128 does not have a subzone but a site location of 02, the correct format would be 1280002.
  • If FTZ 128 has a subzone of D but does not have a site location, the correct format would be 1280D00.
  • If FTZ 128 has a subzone D and a site of 02, the correct format would be 1280D02. AESDirect will be updated to comply with the new regulations.  If you use another software, make sure the software is updated by April 5, 2014 so that it allows you to report the required seven-digit format.

If you have questions regarding FTZs, contact the Data Collection Coordination Branch at 301-763-2259.  In addition, you can visit the following websites for more information U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board and National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones.


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2013 Trade Deficit the Lowest Since 2009

By: Jeff McHugh

The Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $471.5 billion in 2013 from $534.7 billion in 2012.  Exports increased $61.7 billion to $2.3 trillion in 2013.  Increases of $7.1 billion in industrial supplies and materials and $6.8 billion in consumer goods contributed to the overall increase in exports. Increases in exports of fuel oil, petroleum products, natural gas, and crude oil drove the increase in industrial supplies and materials.  Increases in gem diamonds and cell phones drove the increase in consumer goods.  Imports decreased $1.4 billion to $2.7 trillion in 2013.  A $49.0 billion decrease in imports of industrial supplies and materials was the main contributor to the overall decrease.   Specifically, imports of crude oil decreased by $40.3 billion.

There were many annual trade highlights in 2013.  The 2013 goods and services deficit was the lowest since 2009.  2013 exports of goods and services ($2,272.3 billion) were the highest on record.   The 2013 deficit with China ($318.4 billion) and surplus with South and Central America ($25.8 billion) were the highest on record.  You can find these and many more highlights on our Annual Press Highlights page.

December Graph of the Month

Our December Graph of the Month highlights the record annual surplus with South and Central America.  As you can see in the graph, the U.S. trade balance with South and Central America has gone from a $5.5 billion deficit in 2011 to a $25.8 billion surplus in 2013.

December 2013 Graph of the Month

December 2013 Graph of the Month

Monthly Trade Deficit Increased in December

In December, the Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $38.7 billion as exports decreased and imports increased. Exports decreased $3.5 billion to $191.3 billion in December, due in part to a decrease in industrial supplies and materials ($1.1 billion). Imports increased $0.6 billion to $230.0 billion, led by a $0.7 billion increase in consumer goods.  December imports of consumer goods ($45.7 billion) were the highest on record.

As far as highlights go, December continued a recent trend with a third month in a row of record high exports of petroleum ($13.5 billion).

You can find more U.S. trade data online by visiting USATradeOnline. If you are a first time user, you are eligible for a one-week (7-day) free trail.

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Don’t Miss Out on the Advanced Export Information (AEI) Pilot Program

By: Sean Kline

The Census Bureau just announced its Advanced Export Information (AEI) pilot program via a federal register notice. The AEI pilot is a voluntary program that enables U.S. Principal Parties in Interests (USPPIs) to obtain an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) after submitting a limited amount of data elements. This will allow companies to provide significantly less information before receiving an ITN. The USPPI then has five calendar days to submit the remaining Electronic Export Information (EEI).

What is Required Before Shipment Departure?
The goal of this program is to give participants added reported flexibility while providing the government with the information needed for cargo screening. Only the following data elements are required predeparture:

  1. USPPI Information
    i. Name of the USPPI
    ii. Address of the USPPI
    iii. USPPI identification number
    iv. Contact information
  2. Ultimate Consignee Information
  3. Commodity Classification Number
  4. Commodity Description
  5. Port of Export
  6. Date of Export
  7. Carrier Identification
  8. Conveyance Name/Carrier Name
  9. License Code/License Exemption Code
  10. Shipment Reference Number

Some elements will be required based on the conditions of each shipment. These are:

  1. Authorized agent’s identification number (if an authorized agent is filing)
  2. Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) (if shipment is non-licensable and postdeparture filing is specifically permitted)

How Can I Participate?
If you would like to take advantage of this new program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Be a USPPI (sorry, no authorized agents)
  2. Have 12 months of export reporting history
  3. Report a minimum of ten shipments per month (we’ll consider seasonal exporters on a case-by-case basis)
  4. Have maintained an acceptable level of compliance over the past 12 months
  5. Be compliant with all other federal regulations related to international trade

Don’t Miss Out
In order to be considered for the AEI pilot program, read the AEI Pilot Application Process and Acceptance section in the federal register notice.

If you would like to find out more information, give us at call at 800-549-0595 Opt. 3.

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What’s This I Hear About the AESTIR?

By: Sean Kline

searching in a folderIf you’ve heard about a thing called the AESTIR (ey-steer), but don’t know exactly what it is, then this is the blog for you. The Automated Export System Trade Interface Requirements (AESTIR) defines the data requirements that are reported to the Automated Export System (AES). It’s a valuable resource for anyone and a must read if you’re developing your own software for AES filing.

The AESTIR is divided into 4 parts:

  • Part I contains general information needed to understand how and why the AES was developed; it also explains who can participate in AES.
  • Part II describes the different formats accepted for commodity and vessel transportation data.
  • Part III contains 23 appendices which assist the user in programming, testing, reporting, and understanding the export requirements.
  • Part IV contains instructions on what to do if the AES is down.

For the sake of brevity,  allow me to highlight some of the most helpful appendices found in Part III:

  • Appendices A & B –Filing Response Messages: An extensive list of all possible error response codes, their severity, an explanation of why an error occurred, and how to resolve it.
  • Appendix C – ISO Country Codes: A list of all two-character country codes as issued by the International Standards Organization (ISO). You can find ISO codes on our website.
  • Appendix E – Commodity Filing Export Information Codes: An Export Information Code (EIC) is a mandatory field that indicates the type or condition of the shipped item(s).  Examples include “IW” for shipments to international waters, “CH” or “CI” for shipments donated for charity, and “FS” or “FI” for foreign military sales.
  • Appendix F – License and License Exemption Type Codes: The License Code/License Exemption Code indicates the type of export license, export permit, license exemption, license exception or other export authorization. Examples include “C33” for No License Required (NLR), S05 for a DSP-5 license, and “T11” for an Office of Foreign Assets Control general export license.
  • Appendix K – Unit of Measure Codes: This provides the abbreviations for different units of measure such as “BBL” for Barrels and the always perplexing “NO” for Number (not to be confused with “X” which denotes that no unit of measure is required).
  • Appendix S – AES Acronyms and Definitions: This contains Table A, which lists AES Acronyms and Table B, which lists AES Definitions.

If any of this information sounds useful to you,  go to the CBP website at  for the complete AESTIR.

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New Year, New Export Markets!

By: Leandro Solorzano, US Commercial Service

1 International Business






What countries will make it onto your international business plan for 2014?

During the recent recession, companies who were selling to foreign markets fared better than those who only sold domestically. Is exporting part of your business strategy? If not, you should look closer into the benefits of exporting and how it can help your business grow and become more resilient to changes in the economy. If you are already exporting, to what new countries will you be introducing your products in 2014?

You don’t have to look far to find promising export markets for your products/services. With an increasing number of Free Trade Agreements between the United States and South/Central American countries in the past few years, trade between the U.S. and Colombia, Panama, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru is booming. These countries now constitute some of the largest markets for U.S. exports. In 2012, Colombia was the 3rd largest market in Latin America and 22nd largest market globally. Additionally, these five Latin American countries alone account for at least US $60 billion dollars’ worth of exports from the United States, with a wide range of exports varying from the services sector to machinery and agricultural goods.

Colombia, Peru, and Chile are some of the fastest growing economies in the region, integrating well within the global economy by opening up their markets to many countries and maintaining a stable political and business environment. Competition of foreign products in these countries however is low, with a high degree of acceptance of U.S. products. The United States has the dominant share of the import markets of these countries, and the projected growth of trade and investment in this region is unlimited.

If these countries seem like good options for your 2014 export plan then join Trade Winds – The Americas, a premier trade mission and trade conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It will take place in Bogota, Colombia, with optional stops in Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, from May 15 through May 23, 2014.

Participating companies will be able to schedule business to business meetings with potential partners as well as be a part of a dynamic trade conference featuring business leaders who are successfully doing business in the region. Companies will also have a chance to meet one-on-one with Senior Commercial Officers from U.S. Embassies from across the Americas who will provide feedback on market potential to help develop each company’s international business plan. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity. Learn more here or contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Specialists from the Commercial Service can help you overcome challenges in the market and reach specific goals.

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