Although exports for Iowa companies were down in 2016, the positive impact global trade has on the state’s economy can’t be underestimated. Iowa’s international trade statistics are not only large, but also impressive, despite the recent drop.

The website GlobalEDGE reported that in 2016, Iowa’s exports of $12,129,265,542 exceeded imports of $8,245,389,687, leaving the state with a trade surplus of $3,883,875,855. These are certainly not small numbers and offer proof that international trade is good for Iowa. According to the Iowa Economic Development department, roughly 83% of the companies in Iowa that export are small- to medium-sized enterprises, meaning they generated the majority of that positive trade balance.

Many Iowa products are in very high demand around the globe and businesses that aren’t currently exporting should consider doing so, especially since most of Iowa’s largest international markets—Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, France and others are easily accessible and easy to do business with. China, India and other markets with high potential may require more time and investment, but definitely worth investigating since they are expected to be high growth markets in the coming years, as discussed in our previous post ICASA Markets and Their Expected Growth Rates.

There are numerous examples of diverse Iowa-based companies experiencing great success in international markets. The July 17, 2017 article by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry Global Growth: How Iowa companies find success abroad explores the success that three diverse Iowa companies (Kemin, Rockwell Collins and Accumold) have experienced by expanding their global presence. The companies vary widely in products, size and international strategy, but all three generate at least 50% of their revenues from abroad. Each company pursues a different strategy to serve these markets, with Kemin and Rockwell having a direct presence in many of the markets they serve, while Accumold pursues a pure export strategy.

Supporting local language requirements is something each of these companies does to ensure they connect well with their target markets. This is especially true of markets where English is not commonly spoken, such as China, Latin America and Russia.

We would argue that supporting additional languages for large markets such as Japan, German speaking nations, France and Italy will prevent you from excluding buyers in these markets, many of whom prefer to buy from suppliers who “speak their language”.  Though your initial costs may be a bit higher, it is worth calculating how much additional market access and revenue you stand to gain by investing a bit more in communicating with customers in their own language.

For high growth markets that are increasingly important to Iowa—namely India, Africa and Malaysia—translation is a necessity and will require localized content to attract and keep customers.

Gateway Globalization can help you to develop a language strategy that will maximize your investment in supporting the languages in your international markets. Contact us today for a quote or to discuss the logistics of your expansion into a new part of the world.




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