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International Buyer Program Brings Overseas Customers to Domestic Trade Shows

The program recruits more than 125,000 foreign buyers, sales representatives, and business partners to attend events that enhance international marketing opportunities in tough economic times.

by Cory Churches

Reaching buyers in markets worldwide can be a challenge in any economic environment, but in a downturn, traveling to meet prospective buyers can be an expensive endeavor. However, international travel is not required to meet and connect with foreign buyers. Companies can easily broaden their customer base to international markets by participating in domestic trade shows.

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Crowd photo of attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The International Buyer Program recruited 22 delegations that attended the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Consumer Electronics Association/CES International photo)


The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s International Buyer Program (IBP) supports trade shows that are recognized as leading events for promoting the products and services of a particular industry. IBP trade shows give international buyers an opportunity to assess the best and latest in U.S. technology, products, and services.

Export Sales Surge at IBP Events

Since 2005, export sales from connections at IBP events have grown 72 percent and are expected to continue to grow. In 2008, 423 delegations traveled to the United States to participate in IBP events.

The IBP is a government–industry effort that is designed to increase U.S. export sales by promoting international attendance at major U.S. industry exhibitions. The IBP provides practical, hands-on assistance to U.S. exhibitors interested in exporting and making contacts with pre-screened overseas trade partners. That assistance includes export counseling, marketing analysis, and matchmaking services.

“The International Buyer Program is extremely valuable to U.S. companies interested in expanding their business into the global arena,” said Blanche Ziv, director of the IBP. “Particularly in the current difficult economic climate, the IBP enables U.S. companies to potentially reach thousands of international buyers without leaving the United States. The program opens up new channels of sales that will help strengthen U.S. companies and create jobs in the U.S. economy.”

This year, 38 leading trade shows are participating in the IBP. A complete listing of upcoming 2009 shows can be found at

Bringing Buyers and Sellers Together

IBP-supported trade shows provide a venue for international buyers to make valuable contacts with U.S. firms. The IBP’s computer-based matchmaking services connect participants with potential U.S. partners based on products and type of business relationship desired.

Nick Yaksich, vice president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), said, “AEM is very pleased with all the hard work and superb efforts by all the Department of Commerce International Buyer Program staff and senior management.” His company participated in ConExpo-Con/Agg and IFPE 2008. “We are looking forward to working with the Department of Commerce on future trade events and other trade-related programs [that are] important to our members.”

By participating in an IBP event, U.S. exhibitors can reach and connect with a myriad of overseas buyers to extend their customer base and to increase sales.

For more information about the IBP, please visit

Cory Churches is a writer-editor in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.