Export Assistance Program Essay

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National governments have a vested interest in a high export quota. Not only do exports allow for the accumulation  of foreign exchange reserves, exports  also increase  employment   levels, improve  productivity, and foster overall prosperity. At the same time, governments   recognize  the  formal  trade  barriers  and the practical challenges that companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, face in global markets. Therefore, governments, semi-government institutions, associations and other nonprofit organizations, banks, and  other  institutions  offer support  mechanisms in the form of export assistance programs  or, as they are sometimes  also called, export marketing programs, export promotion programs, or trade promotion programs. While the overall aim of all export assistance programs is to raise firms’ competitiveness abroad, the detailed measures taken and instruments applied may vary greatly from country to country.

The  support   national  government   export  assistance programs offer falls into one of five categories: (1) awareness-building  and  stimulation  of interest, (2) acquisition  and  distribution  of information,  (3) training and capacity building, (4) consulting, advice and coaching, and (5) financial assistance. In the area of awareness-building,  the basic challenge is that  in most national economies, only a small fraction of all firms is actively engaged in exports. Export assistance programs try to increase the share of exporting firms through public-awareness campaigns, media reports, seminars, or conferences.

As far as acquisition  and distribution  of information  is concerned,  export  assistance  programs  aim to help identify information  needs. They fulfill them through  the use of databases or through  staff at their own offices abroad. The type of information  needed can be very diverse. It stretches  from general market information or country risk ratings to complex market data to detailed legal questions. Training and capacity building are of utmost importance  to exporting companies. The services of export assistance programs in this area range from simple handbooks  to seminars and workshops to whole programs on exporting.

The range  of services in the  consulting,  advice, and  coaching  category  includes  simple and  practical advice for export beginners as well as more complex tasks such as the organization of trade missions, participations  in trade shows, the collection of outstanding  bills,  or  the  registration   of  trademarks. These  services  are  often  provided  by  staff at  the export assistance program’s head office in the home market or by foreign trade offices abroad. While such foreign trade offices are integrated  into embassies in some countries, they are independent in other countries. Financial support  services, e.g., in the form of export credit insurance, export loans, or export guarantees, are often provided by national  governments or  specialized  banks  affiliated  with  governments, e.g., export-import banks.

Export  assistance  programs  not  only have to  be permissible under the anti-subsidy rules of the World Trade Organization  (WTO), they also must function efficiently. Various measures have been used in order to test the effectiveness of export assistance programs. Depending on methodology, instruments, countries, and the institutional environment,  the results are mixed. They show everything  from clearly negative to highly positive correlations  between export assistance programs and export success.

With  changes in the  international business environment, national export assistance programs are also being reinvented. As international trade is becoming ever  more  important, the  future  will bring  export assistance  programs  that  have been  redesigned  for new target groups, offering new services through new channels of information  and distribution.

Most national  providers of export assistance programs are members of the World Conference of Trade Promotion  Organizations.


  1. Tamer Cavusgil and Michael R. Czinkota,  International   Perspectives on  Trade  Promotion and  Assistance (Quorum  Books, 1990);
  2. Michael Czinkota, “Export Promotion: A Framework  for Finding Opportunity in Change,” Thunderbird International  Business Review (v.44/3, 2002);
  3. Michael Czinkota,  “Why National  Export Promotion,” International  Trade  Forum (v.2, 1996);
  4. “Do  Trade  Promotion   Organizations   Boost Exports?” International Trade Forum (v.1, 2005);
  5. H. Rolf Seringhaus and Philip J. Rosson, Export Development and Promotion: The Role of Public Organizations (Kluwer Academic Publishing, 1991);
  6. H. Rolf Seringhaus and Philip J. Rosson, Government Export Promotion: A Global Perspective (Routledge, 1989);
  7. Timothy Wilkinson and Lance Eliot Brouthers,  “An Evaluation of State Sponsored  Promotion Programs,” Journal of Business Research (v.47, 2000);
  8. Timothy Wilkinson and Lance Eliot Brouthers, “Trade Promotion and SME Export Performance,” International Business Review (v.15, 2006).

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