Positive Progress at the 2015 U.S. China JCCT

November 30, 2015

Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Last week I was in Guangzhou, China, participating in the 26th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). I was joined at the event by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Holleyman. The JCCT brings together leaders from the world’s two largest economies to seek agreement on a path forward to expand and improve a two-way commercial relationship that has grown to nearly $600 billion since its inception more than 30 years ago.


Under Secretary Stefan Selig co-chairs a roundtable discussion with U.S. and Chinese government officials and business leaders.

It was an intense trip, with negotiating sessions stretching well past midnight, only to ramp up again early the next day. I left South China a little sleep-deprived, but with a strong sense of accomplishment for all the positive outcomes achieved during this critical annual event. Through meetings with our Chinese counterparts, we reached agreement in several areas of importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers. We agreed on key outcomes in the areas of intellectual property rights and enforcement, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, competition policy, and technology policy.

In the area of IPR protection and enforcement, new commitments from China will facilitate much needed improvements in a wide range of industries that rely on the ability to protect and enforce their IPR in China. Building on several prior commitments, China also clarified efforts to revise China’s trade secrets system and provide more effective remedies to deter  theft of trade secrets.

We made progress on several areas related to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. We announced concrete outcomes on implementing mutually agreed goals of eliminating drug and medical device application backlogs and improving the time it takes to make these products available to Chinese patients. China also agreed that imported medical devices will be treated the same as domestically produced medical devices. These outcomes on pharmaceuticals and medical devices pave the way for significant increases in U.S. exports in healthcare, a key sector for future growth in China as its population ages and its economy matures.

We also announced advancements in the competition policy arena. The United States and China made meaningful progress in China’s enforcement of its Anti-Monopoly Law (AML). China agreed that it would protect commercial secrets obtained in the process of AML enforcement from unauthorized disclosure and ensure that other agencies do not try to improperly influence that enforcement, for example, in favor of domestic competitors.

Significant strides were made on technology policy as well. China committed to nondiscriminatory and transparent policies for ICT information security, including assurances that Chinese banks are free to purchase ICT products regardless of the country of origin.

I was pleased to participate in several programs this weekend that continued our efforts to “re-imagine” the JCCT that Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Froman launched in Chicago last year. The reinvigorated forum included a full day of collaborative programing designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the United States and China, as well as to promote the exchange of information on trade opportunities at the state, provincial, and local level.

I had the privilege to co-chair a roundtable discussion on corporate governance and business-government engagement featuring U.S. and Chinese government officials and business leaders from U.S. and Chinese companies at the historic Chen Family Academy. With these 25 business leaders from both countries, we were able to explore conditions and best practices for successful business operations in both our countries. The other collaborative events included a networking event and luncheon recognizing the importance of bilateral cooperation at the local level; a program highlighting mutually beneficial health and healthcare public-private partnerships; and a U.S. and Chinese stakeholder discussion regarding recent progress made toward safer and more reliable food chains.

As Secretary Pritzker noted at the conclusion of this year’s JCCT, “a close and productive U.S.-China commercial relationship, based on responsible partnership, is essential to the growth and stability of the global economy.”

I’m happy to report that we had a successful JCCT, and particularly pleased to note that the International Trade Administration was able to achieve this success through close partnership with other Commerce Department bureaus such as the Bureau of Industry and Security, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  I look forward to working with my U.S. and Chinese counterparts as we strive to continue our efforts to enhance and expand the U.S.-China commercial relationship.

Building, deepening, and managing commercial relationships does not only define ITA’s work with our Chinese counterparts. This defines the singular importance of our agency as a whole. Between our consistent engagement with the private sector, our collection of trade specialists and industry experts, and the second-to-none global reach of our Commercial Service, ITA leads the efforts to work with and on behalf of U.S. business to promote trade and investment that makes U.S. companies more competitive abroad and encourages investment into the United States. You can expect that we will continue this important work well into the future.


Doing business on the ‘Bayou’ just got a little spicier

November 30, 2015

Brittany Banta is the Acting Director for the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Assistance Center in New Orleans.

Louisiana’s companies have something new to be proud about.

Earlier this month, the Louisiana District Export Council was recognized as the District Export Council of the Year for 2015. The DEC won the award during the National DEC Forum in Washington, D.C., and I was honored to participate in this special ceremony.

DEC Award

Alta Baker (L), Chairwoman of the Louisiana District Export Council (DEC), and Brittany Banta (R), Acting Director for the New Orleans U.S. Export Assistance Center and the Louisiana DEC’s Executive Secretary accept the International Trade Administration’s 2015 DEC of the Year Award.

Considering there are 59 DECs across the United States, winning this award is a big deal. And Louisiana companies exporting right now, or thinking about exporting, should take notice.

Since the fall of 2014 members of the Louisiana DEC have been quite busy. In December of that year, the DEC took part in the New Orleans’s International Workboat Show, where connected U.S. businesses with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. In October of 2014, on the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, the DEC led 50 business leaders from across several industries to the Central American nation. Leaders from industries to include the port, health care, higher education, seafood and economic development all attended, providing increased awareness between Panamanian importers and Louisiana businesses.

And several members of the Council played a major role in helping Copa Airlines secure the only direct flight service between New Orleans and Panama. Talk about impactful!

What does all this mean for Louisiana exporters? It means our dedicated District Export Council is ready to support small- and medium-sized businesses to help them successfully export anywhere around the world.

But it also means these volunteers have a wealth of knowledge about how to export the right way, and I hope companies will take advantage of their services.

Led by Alta Baker, the DEC’s chairwoman and CEO of Safe Haven Enterprises LLC in Jennings, the Louisiana DEC has worked tirelessly to educate and support small businesses across the state, encouraging them to take advantage of international opportunities.

And with more than 95 percent of consumers living outside of the United States, companies should certainly take advantage.

DECs work closely with local U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Centers — like ours in New Orleans — to educate and inform companies on exporting and international trade. If you’re interested in becoming one of the more than 3,700 companies exporting from Louisiana, email us  and visit our website for more information.


The Great Mall of China

November 30, 2015

This is a guest blog by Doug Barry PhD, who until recently was a Senior International Trade Specialist with ITA’s Office of Communications and Digital Initiatives  

Despite slowing growth and a welter of government regulations, there are still good opportunities to be had in the China market, says the 2015 edition of the China Country Commercial Guide (CCG). Published by the U.S. Commercial Service in China, the CCG, now available online in bite-size nuggets, points out that while many industries remain closed to foreign participants, you’re on much more enticing ground if you’re selling medical equipment, health supplements, baby and environmental products and services, and using e-commerce to avoid most taxes and certifications to reach Chinese consumers directly.

E-commerce is rapidly increasing in China, and in May 2015 accounted for around 10.6% of all retail sales. There are over 632 million Internet users in China, of whom 47% are online shoppers. That’s slightly less than the entire population of the United States.

“The Chinese market remains strong, the retail sector underdeveloped, and logistics surprisingly improved,” says Joshua Halpern, a Commercial Officer with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. “That combination, along with an expanding middle class, government policies that drive domestic consumption, especially in the 2nd and 3rd-tier cities and a degradation of trust for domestic-made products presents U.S. exporters with unprecedented opportunities across a comparatively streamlined and low-cost export channel.”
E-commerce sales in China totaled $449 billion in 2014, up 49.3% from $300.7 billion in 2013, according to the Chinese government’s National Bureau of Statistics (CNBS). In comparison, web sales in the U.S. totaled almost $305 billion in 2014, up 15.4% from 2013, according to Department of Commerce estimates (February 2015). China’s  e-commerce market is growing more than three times faster than that of the United States. Although the official average income of the Chinese online shopper is much less than their American counterparts, personal income of the Chinese middle class grew by 10% (CNBS). The Chinese research firm iResearch forecasts that China’s e-Commerce market will grow at a 27% annual rate over the next four years.

Feet on the ground, or mail it in

U.S. Companies wanting to sell products via Chinese e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba and its affiliates Tao Bao, Tmall and Tmall International, can choose a more traditional approach by establishing a physical presence in China, or use cross-border e-commerce to sell the products directly from abroad. A presence in China can be a subsidiary company, a JV, a wholly-owned entity or a local distributor/agent. The CCG contains information on these different options for establishing a presence in China and the Department of Commerce offices across China can help you identify the right option for your business.

Within the massive growth of e-commerce in China is an approach called “bonded online shopping,” the cross border element of online shopping via government-approved websites that enables foreign brands to sell products overseas. In cross-border e-commerce, goods imported by means of bonded import will be exempt from certain import duties, consumption tax and value-added tax, and are only levied with Personal Postal Articles Tax. Cross-border e-Commerce is in a trial stage, and is likely to experience significant changes as regulations are put in place.

Also, since potential Chinese distributors comb through popular e-commerce marketplaces in search of new products, your product’s presence could lead to orders for containers, rather than oneseys and twoseys (small quantities), which still could be considerable given China’s population of 1.3 billion.

The latest CCG also contains information on the U.S. Government’s export assistance resources in China, which are most significant in the world. Good thing, too, because being successful at e-commerce in China often requires more than a passive listing or virtual store on one or more marketplaces.

Another trend to keep an eye out for is what Commercial Officer Joshua Halpern calls “C-commerce”, which is the shift in consumer behavior away from static one-directional e-commerce platform shopping toward content-rich sites and social media groups that discuss and recommend products and lifestyle activities they are passionate about. C-commerce allows Chinese consumers to trust recommendations from passionate friends in their “inner circle”. U.S. Commercial Services offices in China can advise you on developing a proper e-commerce strategy, including local service providers who can help market your product on China social media.


New Opportunities in Colombia

November 24, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Laura Ebert is the Colombia Desk Officer in the International Trade Administration.

As a fan of Netflix’s drama series ‘Narcos’, I was both nervous and excited to see just how much Colombia has changed since the days of Pablo Escobar. I visited the country for the first time in July and returned a few weeks ago with John Andersen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. Our goal for the trip was to identify new business opportunities in cities across Colombia. I was impressed by the new, modern Colombia and can confirm that the country has indeed come a very long way. In fact:

  • Colombia is on the verge of completing a historic peace process to end 50 years of civil war.
  • Over the past 20 years, GDP has doubled and foreign direct investment into Colombia was more than $16 billion in 2014
  • The rate of Colombians in extreme poverty has fallen from a high of 21 percent in 2006 to 6 percent in 2013.
  • The country’s young population (25 percent of Colombians are under 14-years-old) means the country is bursting with new ideas, energy, and enthusiasm for the future.

During our visit, I saw many examples of the new and modern Colombia. For example, the city of Barranquilla has become Colombia’s international commercial hub. This city of 2.4 million people on the north Caribbean coast impressed me with its crazy traffic, heavy rains, and multitude of skyscrapers—all under construction. With a thriving port and major waterway, the Magdalena River is a natural hub for commerce. The city looks north, towards the United States, meaning there is a lot of interest in doing business with U.S. companies. Some of the reasons Barranquilla may be the next place a U.S. company does business includes the city’s:

  • Commitment to transparency and good governance.
  • Ambitious new plans and projects, such as a new 34,500 m2 expo center, Puerta del Oro, which means procurement opportunities for U.S. companies.
  • Convenient transportation options including an airport with big plans for expansion.
  • Business opportunities in major industry sectors like metalworking, chemicals and plastics, construction materials, transportation and logistics, internet and telecommunications services, health and pharmaceuticals, tourism and health tourism.

Another great example is Medellin, Pablo Escobar’s hometown. Medellin, a city of 3.4 million people, has transformed into an innovation hub for the country. Recently, Medellin was named the most innovative city of the year by the Wall Street Journal. Innovative clusters have developed in industries such as textile and garment manufacturing and design; business tourism and trade shows; electric energy; construction; medical and dental services; and information and communications technologies. Public, private, and academic partnerships are working together to develop new products. One example is public-private corporation Ruta N, which acts as a center of business and innovation in Medellin. The corporation promotes and develops successful knowledge-based businesses. Ruta N anchors a new technology cluster in the north of the city designed to attract businesses in the areas of science, technology, and innovation, particularly in the health, energy, and telecommunications sectors.

If you think the new Colombia holds promise for your growing business, here’s how to get started:

See you in Colombia!





Exports in Higher Education–Finding Qualified Students in Central Europe

November 23, 2015

Jennifer Moll is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Detroit Export Assistance Center.

If you work in higher education, your institution may be actively recruiting international students. Successful international recruiting involves finding students abroad; venues to conduct effective outreach; forming international partnerships; ensuring international students meet the school’s qualifications; and connecting with scholarship and financial aid options domestically and internationally. In the spring, we’ll host an event designed to help your institution explore all of these important elements in the growing higher education market of Central Europe.

The U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassies in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, is partnering with EducationUSA and the Fulbright Commission, to organize education fairs in their respective countries from April 18-22, 2016.

The fairs are much more than shaking hands with foreign diplomats. In each market, event participants will have access to:

  • Briefings from the U.S. embassy in each country about the education environment and market factors;
  • One-on-one appointments with potential partners;
  • A student fair; and
  • Networking events in the respective country (Prague, Warsaw, or Budapest).

Central Europe has experienced amazing development in the last 20 years, including growth in the field of higher education. Across the region there is a strong tradition and interest in quality education that U.S. institutions can tap into. Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest each have unique characteristics that make them suitable targets for overseas recruitment efforts:

  • The Czech Republic has great recruitment potential. High-quality educational programs, coupled with English as the standard second language, produce a large pool of highly qualified candidates for both undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States. Also, an increase in study abroad programs and institutional cooperation has given rise to several new private foundations that have the potential to be sources for student scholarships.
  • Poland is unquestionably a prime target for U.S. educational institutions to successfully recruit undergraduate and graduate students. This market not only represents the sixth largest country in the European Union in terms of population, but it also has a population heavily skewed toward young students interested in higher education.
  • In Hungary, studying abroad is seen as an absolute must for many students, with one-third of students having the goal of study overseas. Summer camps, as well as special English language and mentoring programs all contribute to a large, highly-qualified pool of applicants that will be of great interest to U.S. colleges and universities.

To expand your institution’s international reach to these growing markets, visit the event page to learn more. Be sure to sign up for our related webinar, ‘Best Practices and Opportunities for Student Recruitment in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary’, on December 2nd at 11 a.m. EST.

There’s never been a better time to explore the higher education market in Central Europe. Our team would love to help your institution succeed!

*For more information or questions, email Jennifer at Jennifer.Moll@trade.gov.



Secretary Penny Pritzker Invites Businesses to Join U.S. Delegation at Hannover Messe 2016

November 20, 2015

The US is home to the world’s most innovated and forward thinking companies in the world, but in today’s global economy it is not enough to simply be the best—we must also let the world know that America is open for business.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker invites your business to attend Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology. Our team of commercial experts will provide insights into global industry trends, help you identify the best market opportunities for your products, and facilitate introductions to international buyers, distributers, and investors.

Register and learn how USA Partner Country status makes this a can’t-miss event for your business!




New Opportunities with TPP – Increasing U.S. Exports to Brunei

November 19, 2015

Craig Allen is the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei with the Department of State.

When I arrived as U.S. Ambassador to Brunei in early 2015, my main goal was to strengthen the economic ties between our two countries. What I have since discovered is that Brunei is a little country with big potential. Its small, well-educated population enjoys a high standard of living thanks to oil and gas reserves. Brunei is also strategically located in the heart of Southeast Asia. Each year, more than $5 trillion in trade passes through this region, including $600 million in trade between the United States and Brunei last year.

Although Brunei is a small market, opportunities for U.S. businesses – big and small – abound. The success stories are all around me.

Every day, hundreds of international passengers step off brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Royal Brunei Airlines was the first country in Southeast Asia to fly Boeing’s newest passenger aircraft. They continue to expand their fleet, creating and sustaining high-skilled jobs in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina.

During Brunei’s National Day celebrations, I proudly watched as the Royal Brunei Armed Forces flew new Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters over thousands of excited celebrants. I knew that for each helicopter I saw in the air that day, thousands of Americans back home had benefited economically. Whether it is Brunei’s state-of-the-art Cancer Center being furbished with sophisticated U.S. radiotherapy medical equipment, or Brunei’s national university partnering with IBM to host the first Blue Gene/P supercomputer in Southeast Asia, Brunei offers many opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.

The successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations last month represents a new opportunity to increase exports. In particular, TPP will benefit American machinery exporters, as 80 percent of U.S. machinery exports and 100 percent of U.S. transportation equipment exports will become duty-free when the agreement enters into force.

Now is the right time to do business in Brunei. This little country is making big efforts to diversify its economy away from oil and gas. And with the TPP coming into force, U.S. companies are poised to seize new opportunities. My staff and I at the U.S. Embassy in Brunei are ready to welcome U.S. exporters interested in this small but promising market. We stand ready to help and look forward to hearing from you.


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