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Value of exports for North Dakota: Leaders tout benefits of shipping overseas

FNS Photo by Carrie Snyder From left, Sen. John Hoeven R-N.D., Arun Kumar, assistant secretary of commerce for Global Markets and director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., talk about the economic importance of exporting in rural America Tuesday at Titan Machinery in Moorhead, Minn.

MOORHEAD, Minn. — Area businesses can serve as successful examples in exporting for other parts of the country, said Arun Kumar, assistant secretary of commerce for global markets and director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Kumar toured local companies Tuesday, including WCCO Belting in Wahpeton and Titan Machinery in Moorhead.

Kumar said he’s excited about the exporting that’s happening here.

“It’s a truly inspiring story, to see the technology and innovative products that are coming out of here and going around the world,” Kumar said.

“Every entrepreneur should think of exports from day one,” Kumar said. “It’s really amazing how transformational exports are.”

Kumar’s visit was hosted by U.S. Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who touted the economic importance of rural exports.

Hoeven said there are now more resources to aid companies in exporting, including increased funding for the U.S. Commercial Service, which has field offices in 107 U.S. cities, including Fargo, and in 76 countries.

The 2014 farm bill included programs that provide matching funds to promote rural agricultural industries and products, and for efforts to reduce foreign import restrictions and promote free and fair markets, he said.

Under the Rural Export Initiative, the U.S. Commercial Service will bring commercial specialists from Brazil and Australia to Fargo in the near future for one-on-one meetings with local companies.

Recently enacted export control reform also eases red tape for many manufacturers, Klobuchar said.

The U.S. Commercial Service isn’t just focused on American companies selling their goods overseas, but in attracting foreign companies to invest directly in rural areas. A local example of that is India-based Tech Mahindra in Fargo, which Kumar also visited Tuesday.

Kumar said North Dakota should continue to “do more of the same” to encourage exporting. He encourages communities and states to be strategic and more proactive.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., with U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., stressed the importance of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank in a conference call.

The credit agency will expire Sept. 30, and some conservative groups are campaigning to let its charter expire, calling it crony capitalism.

While 90 percent of the bank’s transactions are for small businesses, 80 percent of its funding has gone to large corporations. Some Republicans have said they prefer to reform the agency with reauthorization, versus letting the charter lapse.

The Export-Import Bank has supported $97 million in exports from North Dakota since 2007, Heitkamp’s office said, also noting it operates at no cost to taxpayers and last year sent $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

Heitkamp said entrepreneurs understand they need to look across their borders if they want to succeed. Not reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank in a timely fashion causes uncertainty and disruption.

“We need to start doing our business in the United States Congress according to a business schedule,” she said.

Hoeven and Klobuchar both said Tuesday they support the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. College courses for high schoolers get better pricing.

Sherri Richards

Sherri Richards has worked for The Forum since 2002. She is the features and business editor, overseeing Variety, SheSays, Farmers' Forum, the daily Business pages and Saturday Business section.     Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

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