Still a land of opportunity Feb 13 2018 | GlobalScot, Bob Dewar, partner in the US law firm Williams Mullen

SCOTTISH businesses have likely heard the “America First” rhetoric of Donald Trump and may, as a result, conclude that foreign businesses are not welcome in the United States. Those businesses should know that Scottish companies are very much appreciated in the United States and have a reputation for honesty, integrity and hard work.

The United States is still a land of opportunity for our entrepreneurs. It should be appreciated, however, that while certain companies and their representatives may love Scotland and its people, those US companies may still try to buy American out of a sense of patriotism.

Scottish businesses can enhance their chances of success with such potential customers by appearing to be “domestic”. Such a perception is relatively easy to create and frequently eliminates the ability of a potential client to exclude a foreign business under that Buy American philosophy. In competitive tender situations, in particular, this may prove decisive. 

First, foreign businesses can enhance their domestic appearance by incorporating a US subsidiary. That provides a legal name for the business (e.g. Inc. or LLC) and titles for the officers (such as President and Vice President) that are familiar to US citizens. The use of such titles and names puts potential customers at ease since they understand the types of businesses that they are dealing with and know the authority of the representatives of the business with whom they are dealing. 

Scottish businesses may also make themselves appear more local by taking advantage of virtual office opportunities offered by many state or county economic development agencies. Those agencies are tasked with attracting foreign and other investment to their locale and can offer receptionists, shared office space and answering services.

In many cases, there is no obligation to enter into a lease of substantial space to secure those services, and they can be secured for a modest fee. Having local contact details creates the perception that the business has resources in the US and can respond to issues in real time for its US customers.

Many Scottish businesses have operated under that perception for years, when the truth is that almost all of their resources are located in Scotland. Provided that the customer is being looked after, there is generally no problem with such a set up.

Perhaps most appealing to Scottish businessmen is the fact that all of the above can be achieved quickly and without great expense. In general, the owners, directors and officers of a company do not need to be US citizens or be located in the state where the company is formed and can conduct all meetings from abroad.

There are normally few requirements to maintain places of business in a particular state or have employees present. In today’s US, where it is difficult to discern whether a potential business contact may be a Trump supporter and an advocate of the America First ideal, being able to blend into the business community and look like the competition has significant value. 

If you are interested in exporting to the United States then Aberdeen And Grampian Chamber of Commerce are hosting a Beyond Houston event in March. Click here to find out more.

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