A new service at Mississippi State is assisting state furniture manufacturers and wood producers in exporting to foreign markets.
In 2007, domestic furniture and related product exports totaling $3.9 billion went primarily to Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Mississippi's share of the market was approximately 3 percent.
"This figure can be much higher for Mississippi furniture manufacturers," Bill Martin, director of the university's Franklin Furniture Institute, said Tuesday [Nov. 18].
To help expand the state's market share, Martin said MSU has established the Export Resource Service to serve as a central distribution point for furniture-related export opportunities, information, data, resources, and statistics.
Among the service's first actions will be a free Thursday [Nov. 20] seminar titled "Getting Your Share of the World Furniture Market" to be held 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Franklin Center on campus. Required registration continues to be accepted at www.ffi.msstate.edu/export/seminar_reg.asp.
Thomas Crump, director of the Furniture Export Office for the North Carolina Department of Commerce's International Trade Division, will be the keynote speaker. Among other topics, he will share details of the Tar Heel State's more than 90 percent increase in furniture exports over the last five years.
"Considering a weakening domestic market, now is the time to develop opportunities to export Mississippi furniture to world markets," Martin said.
Noting that U.S. furniture products already have a high prestige factor in many other countries, domestic furniture producers have an opportunity to increase revenues and expand their share of the world market, he observed.
"The Export Resource Service at MSU will be a clearing house for trade opportunities between potential foreign customers and domestic manufacturers," Martin said.
In addition to the Franklin Furniture Institute, ERS is a collaborative effort among the U.S. Department of Commerce's Mississippi Export Assistance Center and Mississippi Development Authority's International Trade Office.
Martin said the partnership is designed to save state manufacturers valuable time by helping to identify promising leads targeted at the furniture-related industry through the world. In addition, the organization will help Mississippi exporters obtain necessary information required to sell in overseas markets.
The Thursday seminar will include presentations on trade opportunities in Latin America, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.