Saturday, October 16, 2004

Exports to the rescue

I have mixed feelings about trade and capitalist values, but it's somewhat easier to feel okay about USAID helping small businesses in El Salvador. The Post has a story about a trade show in DC this week:
...[there was a] a contingent of 15 Salvadoran companies sponsored by Expro, a $6 million project by the U.S. Agency for International Development that is teaching small-business owners in El Salvador to export their products. The small-business owners said the United States is an attractive market for two reasons: The Salvadoran community in the United States is about 1.5 million strong and growing; also growing is the market for organic and natural foods.

Expro, which started in July 2003, has already helped about 55 Salvadoran businesses export $4.8 million worth of products to the United States, Japan, Germany and other countries. That's a tiny sliver of El Salvador's total exports of $3.2 billion last year, but the program has helped small businesses reach markets overseas. A few USAID trade specialists live in El Salvador and help guide small-business owners through the maze of regulations so they can begin exporting.

"The companies come to [trade shows] to get to know a new market, to see what the trends are and to see who the competition is," said Lisa K. Alley, an Expro trade specialist.

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