Trade & Export
The Detroit Regional Partnership helps you grow across the globe with trade and export programs
Today, the business world is a global landscape of interconnected industries, and your company’s long-term success depends on finding your place in the international market. Whether you’re a small business or a local startup, we are here to help you export your product and expand your business network.
The Detroit Regional Partnership is your one-stop shop for local trade and export resources. Our trade program is designed to raise awareness about the opportunities available for local businesses and help you select the programs that fit your business needs. We proudly serve as your business concierge, connecting you with the organizations that can help you expand into the global marketplace.
The Detroit Regional Partnership helps local businesses in the region expand into international markets. Our team of experts can connect you with programs, resources, and partners ready to support your business as you grow.
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Billion dollars of Made-in-America goods exported in 2018
Largest state for exported goods in 2018
Billion dollars in manufactured products exported
Companies exported from Michigan in 2016
Trade & Export Programs
Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The MEDC’s International Trade team leads the state export program, facilitating opportunities for Michigan businesses to export their goods and services around the world. The team offers networking and consultation services to connect local businesses with marketing support, legal assistance, and prospective partners and customers in 92 countries. They also provide market analyses and grant funding to offset eligible export costs and activities.
Many of these resources are entirely free or offered at reduced rates, ensuring that your business has access to the tools you need to start selling internationally. Connect with an International Trade Manager today to learn more.
Automation Alley is Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, focused on collaboratively accelerating innovation and fueling the economy. They host Trade Missions to international countries around the globe, introducing small and medium-size local businesses to new high-growth markets. These businesses learn firsthand insights from government officials and meet potential buyers in their industry.
To date, Automation Alley has organized more than 30 Trade Missions that have generated over $1 billion in export sales and created thousands of local jobs. Contact them about upcoming Trade Missions to start expanding your business overseas.
International Trade Administration – U.S. Commercial Service
The International Trade Administration (ITA) supports the U.S. Government’s lead trade promotion agency: the U.S. Commercial Service. The ITA is committed to strengthening the nation’s economy and industry while promoting international trade and investment. Through the U.S. Commercial Service, they help businesses in over 100 U.S. cities increase their sales in the international market.
Local Michigan companies can receive assistance from trade professionals at the four U.S. Commercial Service offices in Michigan, connecting you with a global network of resources. Their services include market research, website globalization, and matchmaking services to pair you with potential partners
Michigan State University – International Business Center
The International Business Center at Michigan State University (MSU) provides education, research, and expert assistance to companies to help inform their international trade. Since 1990, their Global Business Club has offered workshops and seminars to help local businesses expand their exports, and their Michigan Export Growth Program (MEGP) gives pro bono assistance to local Michigan businesses so they can best navigate the opportunities available in the global marketplace.
The MEGP provides free market research and one-on-one consulting to a select number of firms each year. To apply to the program, reach out to the International Business Center at MSU for more information.
Grand Valley State University – Van Andel Global Trade Center
Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan, specializes in Business and Management related programs. Their Van Andel Global Trade Center (VAGTC) offers networking opportunities and high-quality services to local Michigan businesses. The VAGTC seminars, workshops, and conferences cover a wide variety of topics—from customs compliance to international regulations.
VAGTC also provides customized consulting services for all types of businesses interested in international importing and exporting. They also combine the expertise of GVSU students with professional customs brokers to create resources and reference materials to assist businesses with their international growth.
Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a statewide organization that offers support for small businesses and local entrepreneurs. With low-cost business education, no-cost advising and consultation, and market research, the SBDC ensures that your business can compete and grow in both the local and global markets.
The Michigan SBDC also provides direct assistance to help you expand your small business into the international marketplace. From International SEO Reports to strategic advising, their Export Team can help you assess your business plan and connect you with resources to help you succeed.
Canada is the United States’ largest annual export partner
The Canadian economy is the 10th largest in the world by nominal GDP—with a 2019 GDP of $1.71 trillion USD. Manufacturing accounts for 10% of their annual GDP with strengths in automotive, aerospace, machinery and equipment, and chemicals. Considered an energy superpower, Canada is rich in natural resources and is strengthening its position as a global tech hub with notable capabilities in FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, and Cybersecurity.
As of 2019, Canada’s population was 37.59 million people, growing at an annual rate of 1.4%. Their economy is largely dominated by the service industry, which employs almost a third of all Canadian residents.
Clusters: Manufacturing, Technology, Automotive Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, Food and Beverage, and Agriculture
Export Support: The Consulate General of Canada, which has a full-service office located in Detroit.
- Canada is Michigan’s largest export partner with $22.4 billion in exported goods each year.
- The Detroit Region is situated on the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing in North America.
- Michigan’s top three exports to Canada are Transportation Equipment ($14.0B), Machinery ($1.3B), and Oil & Gas ($1.1B).
Germany leads the European export market
Germany is centrally located in the European Union and represents one of the world’s most important trading blocs. With the fourth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, Germany has the biggest economy in Europe with a GDP of $3.95 trillion USD. And its advantageous location and business environment make Germany a leading destination for foreign direct investment.
As of 2019, Germany’s population was 83 million people, growing at an annual rate of 0.49%. The nation has a reputation for quality and productivity that is an essential component of their continued competitiveness in the global market.
Clusters: Automotive Manufacturing, Production Technology, Digitalization and Industry 4.0, Environmental Technology, Health and Medical, Information Technology, Aerospace, Electronics, and Services
Export Support: The German American Chamber of Commerce (AHK) has a Michigan office located just outside Detroit, and German Trade and Investment (GTAI) has a nearby office in Chicago.
- Germany is Michigan’s fourth largest export partner with $2.0 billion in exported goods each year.
- Annual exports from Michigan to Germany increased by 6.6% over the past five years.
- Michigan’s top three exports to Germany are Transportation Equipment ($801.2M), Nonmetallic and Mineral Products ($475.4M), and Machinery ($214.6M).
Japan is leading the world in advanced robotics
Japan’s highly developed economy has become the third largest in the world by nominal GDP, with a GDP of $4.97 trillion USD in 2019. Japan is home to the second largest computer and telecommunications market, and they have more robots in operation than any other country in the world. Japan is also known for its prowess in pharmaceuticals, industrial robotics, renewable energy, and smart agriculture.
As of 2019, Japan’s population was 126.5 million people, growing at an annual rate of 0.2%. With its robust economy and diverse industries, Japan presents opportunities for export growth in nearly every business sector.
Clusters: Automotive Manufacturing, Aerospace, Industrial Machinery and Robotics, Electronics, Chemicals and Advanced Materials, Life Sciences, Tourism, Food and Beverage, and Energy
Export Support: Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), as well as a full-service office of the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit.
- Japan is Michigan’s fifth largest export partner with $1.5 billion in exported goods each year.
- Annual exports from Michigan to Japan increased by 18.6% over the past five years.
- Michigan’s top three exports to Japan are Transportation Equipment ($280.1M), Primary Metal Manufacturing ($243.9M), and Chemicals ($220.1M).
South Korea is a hub for expansion into the global marketplace
South Korea offers U.S. companies a prime location to conduct business and easily expand their global footprint. With a GDP of $1.63 trillion USD in 2019, South Korea has the 12th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP. Many products used by Korean consumers also have a high market share in global markets, so many global companies are choosing South Korea as an ideal test-bed market.
As of 2019, South Korea’s population was 51.26 million people, growing at an annual rate of 0.1%. Given its robust shipping and air cargo infrastructure, South Korea connects you with a network of third-country markets to facilitate your expansion.
Clusters: Manufacturing, Digital Technology, and High-Tech Manufacturing (i.e. semiconductors, smartphones, and displays)
Export Support: Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)
- South Korea is Michigan’s sixth largest export partner with $1.4 billion in exported goods each year.
- Annual exports from Michigan to South Korea increased by 31.7% over the past five years.
- Michigan’s top three exports to South Korea are Transportation Equipment (604.8M), Chemicals ($258.7M), and Primary Metal Manufacturing ($113.4M).
Italy offers a strategic location with manufacturing expertise
Italy is one of the three key economies within the Eurozone. Their economy is the eighth largest in the world by nominal GDP—with a 2019 GDP of $2.01 trillion USD, as well as the second largest manufacturing economy in Europe and the fifth largest globally. Italy also ranks fifth in the European Union for its contribution of high-tech and medium-tech products and sixth for design applications.
As of 2019, Italy’s population was 60.36 million people, growing at an annual rate of 0.13%. With its strong transportation infrastructure, Italy is a pivotal trade hub at the crossroads of both the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe.
Clusters: Aerospace, Agriculture, Automotive Manufacturing, Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, Electronics, Information and Communications Technology, Life Sciences, and Machinery
Export Support: Italian Trade Promotion Agency (ITA), as well as a full-service office of the Consulate of Italy in Detroit.
- Italy is Michigan’s seventh largest export partner with $1.1 billion in exported goods each year.
- Annual exports from Michigan to Italy increased by 7.9% over the past five years.
- Michigan’s top three exports to Italy are Transportation Equipment ($636.0M), Chemicals ($265.3M), and Machinery ($62.3M).
France connects U.S. businesses with booming European industries
France is the second largest exporter and importer in Europe, with the seventh largest economy in the world by nominal GDP. In 2019, France’s GDP was $2.71 trillion USD, and the manufacturing industry accounted for nearly 27% of that number. France is also home to Europe’s largest banking, aerospace, and nuclear industries as well as the second largest agricultural and chemical industries.
As of 2019, France’s population was 66.99 million people, growing at an annual rate of 0.21%. With a high number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Paris, France presents a vast market with ample opportunity for export partners to grow.
Clusters: Healthcare, Food and Beverage, Robotics, Aerospace, Information Technology, Financial Services, Logistics, Chemicals, Automotive Manufacturing, CleanTech
Export Support: Business France
- France is Michigan’s 15th largest export partner with $511 million in exported goods each year.
- Annual exports from Michigan to France increased by 12.2% over the past five years.
- Michigan’s top three exports to France are Chemicals ($135.1M), Transportation Equipment ($103.3M), and Primary Metal Manufacturing ($82.6M).
Trade & Export Resources
Boost your international expansion with government support
The United States Government has resources and opportunities to facilitate your global expansion. The International Trade Administration provides tools to help you research foreign markets, navigate global logistics, explore eCommerce options, and much more. For a small fee, the their Gold Key Service identifies potential partners in overseas markets and arranges meetings with them. Meanwhile, the Export-Import Bank of the United States offers trade financing solutions like export credit insurance and guarantees of commercial loans to foreign buyers—all to empower local exporters.
Food and Agriculture
Sell your agricultural products around the globe
The Food Export Association – Midwest and the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) both assist local food and agricultural companies grow their export business. They help develop your international market opportunities with educational programs, market research, consultations, and even help with international documentation. Their joint Branded Program also provides reimbursement for expenses related to international marketing activities—from website development to labelling modifications.
Navigate the global market with confidence
Your business may be ready to expand into the international market, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, there are ample resources that provide technical assistance to help you learn about the world of exporting. The U.S. Commercial Service offers training resources and webinars as well as personalized consultation through their local offices. And across the state, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the International Business Center at MSU jointly developed Export Michigan to offer educational resources, networking events, and other assistance programs.
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VP, Global Investment & Trade