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Survey Reveals US Manufacturers Struggle to Increase Exports

An end-of-year survey conducted by QualityTrade.com, focused on the problems facing small and medium sized manufacturers in the U.S, revealed that 44 percent of U.S. manufacturing exporters receive insufficient new sales to justify the time and expense of developing new overseas customers.

Nigel Johnston, CEO of QualityTrade, said, “Traditionally, small and mid-sized manufacturing exporters have been the powerhouse of the US economy. Our survey shows today they are struggling for every extra dollar in overseas sales.”

The survey also revealed that one quarter (26 percent) of U.S. exporters struggle with not being able to communicate effectively with buyers overseas. As a result, much stress is placed on the importance of workforce language and cross-cultural skills when dealing with international buyers.

“Many US exporters have the wrong sales and marketing approach. They need to gain exposure to buyers who appreciate the higher quality and compliance levels of products made in the US,” Johnston added.

Other major challenges revealed in the survey include, customers failing to place additional orders too often (26 percent), customers disputing terms after signing the contract (11 percent) and customers refusing to pay (5 percent).

“The rest of the world assumes US-produced goods are significantly more expensive, even though they are not. But, if US manufacturers seek to compete on price alone, they throw away the advantages that their higher-quality operations give them,” Johnston said. “The US is still competitive because of its low cost of capital, low cost of raw materials and more efficient operations that keep labor costs low.”

Forty-eight executives of U.S. firms, most with annual revenues of up to $25 million, took QualityTrade’s survey online.