Trade Missions

U.S. Department of Commerce trade missions offer a proven cost-effective tool for facilitating U.S. companies’ efforts to find buyers in foreign markets. Trade missions leverage opportunities in strategic industries, help open markets for U.S. companies, and expand U.S. trade relationships with our traditional trading partners, and in emerging markets. The success of trade missions in the RE&EE sectors supports the creation of green jobs in the United States.

Recruiting for the trade missions begins with an announcement by the Department of Commerce that it is seeking U.S. companies—from particular sectors, such as RE&EE, or from multiple industries—whose goal is to export their products and services to a certain country. Travelling together as a delegation, representatives from the U.S. companies attend market briefings; participate in site visits and networking receptions; and have one-on-one business matchmaking appointments with potential buyers, agents, distributors, and joint venture partners that have been pre-screened by the U.S. Commercial Service.

The Department of Commerce offers several types of trade missions, all of which include U.S. companies and usually include senior Commerce officials:

  • Commercial missions seek to produce near-term export sales of U.S. goods and services from participating firms that travel as a group to one or more foreign markets. Some missions are planned specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises or for minority- and women-owned businesses.
  • Market access missions seek to create commercial opportunities through the removal of trade barriers and opening of markets for U.S. businesses.
  • Policy missions seek to advance U.S. bilateral or multilateral objectives across a range of issues, with the goal of enhancing overall economic and political relations.
  • Combined missions embody aspects of two or more of the preceding three types of missions.
  • Certified trade missions are organized by state and private sector trade promotion groups and are endorsed by the Department of Commerce.

Small businesses can fund business development travel, including participation in a trade show or trade mission, through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Export Express Program.

RE&EE exports in action

Here are some examples of recent trade missions:

  • In May 2010, the secretary of commerce led a trade mission to China and Indonesia. Representatives accompanying the secretary came from a broad range of leading U.S. companies with technologies related to clean energy; energy efficiency; and electric energy storage, transmission, and distribution. More than $20 million in initial sales were reported following the mission, with millions more expected in years ahead.
  • In February 2010, a senior Commerce official led a Solar Energy Trade Mission to India, building on the agency’s efforts to position U.S. companies to seize export opportunities as India gears up to rapidly expand its solar energy capabilities. The trade mission visited three cities—Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi—where participants received market briefings and meet with key government decision-makers and prospective private-sector partners during customized, one-on-one meetings.
  • FedEx and the U.S. Commercial Service teamed up for a certified Green Industries Trade Mission to Europe in April 2010. All delegates participated in the mission’s inaugural session in Paris, which included a conference organized by the U.S. Commercial Service that showcased American solutions and offerings in the green and sustainable industry sectors. The delegates then chose two other locations in Europe for in-country matchmaking, depending on the best prospects for their exports.

Where do I start?

You can search for trade missions in the RE&EE sectors at Export.gov, or browse trade mission announcements at Trade.gov.

States, industry associations, and other groups should apply directly to a U.S. Commercial Service overseas post to have their mission certified.

To receive counseling on how the programs listed above can help you achieve your international sales goals, please contact your local U.S. Commercial Service international trade specialist.

More trade events/exports counseling programs

Return to the online guide "Trade Events and Export Counseling" section to read more about programs that can help RE&EE exporters.