Big and Small – US Businesses Look for Growth Abroad

Today’s newspaper brought an article about one of our largest corporations, Wal-Mart, focusing on growth abroad (emphasis mine):

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s chief executive, Mike Duke, said yesterday that he expects international expansion to accelerate as the world’s largest retailer attempts to make up for slowing growth in the United States.

…“My expectation is to add customers, to add stores, and to grow Wal-Mart International at an even faster pace,’’ Duke told employees at a meeting in Fayetteville, Ark. He did not provide growth targets.
International sales jumped 8.9 percent on a constant-currency basis in the first quarter, Wal-Mart said last month. Sales at US stores open at least a year declined 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, just a few days ago, the Wall St. Journal published an article in their small business section on Three Best Ways to Expand Overseas, noting that (emphasis mine):

Expanding overseas in the current economy may seem like a pipedream for small-business owners. But many have taken the plunge despite the recession, allowing them to diversify their risk and client base in markets abroad. In fact, the U.S. Commercial Service, which helps U.S. companies expand into foreign markets, says that 23% of its clients exported for the first time, entered a new market, or increased their international market penetration in 2009.

The article included an emphasis on understanding different regulatory requirements, which was great to see.  I think this is often a stumbling point for American firms entering new country markets, unaware that pricing, sales and promotion tactics common in the US are sometimes not only not common, but illegal. Still, with the potential for growth abroad in stark contrast to the current slow US economy, it seems as if there were ever time to enter new regions, this is it.  In between the publication of these two news articles, came the word that India’s economy grew 8.6% from a year earlier in the first quarter!

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