At a recent roundtable organized by the White House Business Council and Business Forward, senior government officials gathered with business leaders from across the country to discuss how international trade policy can help American companies prosper in the international marketplace. Officials included Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman, and Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg.

The spotlight was on two significant trade agreements that the administration is currently negotiating: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with members of the European Union.

These agreements aim to level the global playing field by eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment, so as to create new opportunities for American businesses and workers.1 An additional goal is to provide greater compatibility and transparency in trade and investment regulation, while maintaining high levels of health, safety, and environmental protection.2

Healthcare, as an example, is becoming globalized at an unprecedented rate. The financial engine of a growing healthcare market is the middle class, and the middle class is expanding most rapidly in non-Western countries. According to the National Intelligence Council, middle classes in most of the developing world are poised to expand substantially in terms of both absolute numbers and the percentage of the population. Multiple studies project the most rapid growth will occur in Asia, with India somewhat ahead of China over the long term.3

Southeast Asia and the Middle East also have become destinations for medical tourism, especially for plastic surgery. Low cost, high-quality treatment along with state-of-the-art medical facilities and private hospitals continue to draw people to those regions.

In the U.S., companies serving the medical industry face pressure to reduce costs without sacrificing quality of care--however, healthcare models in other countries do not have the same constraints. As a result, the diverse international healthcare marketplace has become attractive for manufacturing companies with expertise in this arena.

Carstens, a mid-size, woman-owned business, believes opportunities exist in the global marketplace and is retooling its product offerings to better compete internationally. As a manufacturer of point-of-care solutions, which are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company can export its products to countries across the world and expect an immediate return on that investment.

From a small business perspective, international expansion offers real potential right now. More than 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., representing more than 80 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).4 So while a finite market exists in the U.S. and participating North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) nations, the Asia-Pacific region and European Union represent untapped potential that companies like Carstens is focusing on with an international strategy—exporting at a higher level than any other time in its history.

Additionally, roundtable members discussed in depth the goal of U.S. manufacturers to improve workflow in the healthcare setting through innovations that also enhance patient satisfaction. New products such as the WALLAroo® with ISONAS™ access control technology are just a few emerging products being offered to the healthcare environments in these growing nations—bringing bleeding edge technologies to modernize, optimize, and address some of the most pressing issues in healthcare.

Nationally, an estimated 11.7 million U.S. jobs were supported by exports of goods and services last year.5 With trade agreements such as TPP and T-TIP, government administrators seek to increase exports in regions that include some of the world’s most robust economies, thus supporting the creation and retention of high-quality American jobs.6

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 300,000 U.S. companies export their goods to international markets and the large and growing markets of the Asia-Pacific region are key destinations. As a group, the TPP countries are the largest goods and services export market of the United States. America’s small and medium sized enterprises alone exported $247 billion to the Asia-Pacific region in 2011 (latest data available).7 Businesses that export are more likely to expand their manufacturing and are 8.5 percent less likely to declare bankruptcy than those that do not export.8

To support its international sales and marketing strategies, companies like Carstens are working with the government at the city, state, and federal level. Both Chicago and Illinois have some of the most aggressive programs to assist businesses that are focusing on exports, and offer assistance with foreign liaison, diplomatic trade missions, and other services.

Overall, the globalization of healthcare has opened up vast opportunities for small to mid-size companies, such as Carstens, to prosper on the international stage—while supporting the local economy, community, and workforce.


About The Author

John Pierson is Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Carstens, Inc. based in Chicago. Founded more than 125 years ago, Carstens pioneered putting patient information and medication dispensing at the point of care, with customized records systems and workstations. As the healthcare industry evolves, Carstens continues to expand its line of electronic health record (EHR) support products, offering innovative solutions for paper based record keeping as well as the integration of electronic solutions at the point-of-patient care. All made in the US, Carstens’ products are designed to enhance communication and increase interaction between clinicians and patients at the point of care.

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