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Wheels in Motion: Join SelectUSA in Germany at Automechanika and IAA

July 28, 2014

Cora Dickson is a Communications and Outreach Specialist for SelectUSA. Danit Kanal is an International Economist for SelectUSA and the author of a forthcoming report, “Invest in the Auto Industry: Promising Trends and Opportunities for Growth.”

USA Investment Center at Hannover Messe, April 2014

USA Investment Center at Hannover Messe, April 2014.

The exciting news last week that Volkswagen will create 2,000 jobs in Chattanooga, Tennessee was just the latest indication that the United States auto sector is recovering, expanding, and drawing the attention of investors worldwide.

Economic development organizations (EDOs) can capitalize on this limelight, and boost growth in their regions’ auto industry clusters, by joining the USA Investment Center at two trade shows in Germany this fall – Automechanika and the International Automobile Exhibition (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung – known as the IAA).

Exhibitors at Automechanika (September 16-20 in Frankfurt) represent a wide range of companies in this sector, from parts and components to accessories and electronics. Truly an international showcase, over 80 percent of exhibitors in 2012 were from outside Germany. Meanwhile, the IAA (September 25 – October 2 in Hannover), which can trace its origins back over 100 years, will focus this year on everything in the supply chain related to commercial vehicles.

This is a great time for U.S. EDOs to consider whether the automotive sector offers an opportunity to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). During the period 2008-2012, FDI in the U.S. auto industry grew at the average rate of over 9 percent per year. These trade shows will enable EDOs to meet directly with interested investors.

On top of the appealing factors across the board for all industries – such as lower energy costs, strong intellectual property rights, and high productivity – the United States is increasingly recognized as a solid production base for automakers and their suppliers from around the world. One reason is the rapidly rising consumer demand for vehicles: in June 2014, U.S. consumers purchased new cars and trucks at the fastest pace in eight years.

The evidence is strong that the U.S. automotive sector, which employs approximately 1.7 million U.S. workers, benefits enormously from FDI. Consider these recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis:

  • In 2011, U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned motor vehicles, bodies and trailers, and parts firms account for nearly 40 percent of total U.S. employment in this sector.
  • The 2012 FDI stock in motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts accounted for almost 3 percent of total industry FDI in the United States and around 8 percent of manufacturing FDI in the United States.

Read more about the support provided to economic development organizations that join the USA Investment Center at these two premier events, and contact Amy Zecha at SelectUSA or Ed Fantasia at the Commercial Service in Munich for further information on how to register to participate.

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Connecting African Leaders to U.S. Industry Beyond the Beltway

July 25, 2014

This post originally appeared on the White House Blog.

The Honorable Leocadia I. Zak is the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Leocadia I. Zak

Leocadia I. Zak

The upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which is the largest single engagement by any U.S. President with our African partners, will help the United States play a driving role in the continent’s future development.

Many Americans are aware that sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with tremendous potential, but they may not know about significant plans to develop infrastructure across the continent. We believe that these plans represent enormous business opportunities for U.S. companies of all sizes, and that is why we have invited key African decision-makers to meet with private-sector leaders in Chicago and Houston prior to the Summit.

These African Leaders’ Visits, which the U.S. Trade and Development Agency is partnering with the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy to host from July 30 to August 1, will highlight the United States’ experience fostering economic growth through key infrastructure investments. These Visits are the only commercially focused events to take African leaders to major U.S. cities outside of Washington, D.C. on the occasion of the Summit.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx and I will co-host the African Leaders’ Visit: Transport in Chicago for transportation ministers whose countries have recently announced plans for significant near-term expansions in both rail and aviation infrastructure. Site visits to the Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal and O’Hare International Airport will feature the U.S. rail and aviation industries and demonstrate how the development of transportation infrastructure has made Chicago an international hub for finance, industry, and technological innovation.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and I will lead the African Leaders’ Visit: Energy in Houston for energy ministers as they face important decisions on how best to develop their countries’ extensive natural gas reserves. In Houston, the delegates will visit energy facilities that were developed to transport and utilize the area’s natural gas resources and that have helped create an economic boom.

Logo for the African Leaders VisitThe Visits will provide U.S. companies of all sizes exposure to African leaders in settings that showcase the operation of their cutting-edge technologies and services. In Chicago and Houston, the leaders will discuss investment opportunities in their countries and identify potential areas of partnership with the United States. U.S. businesses interested in participating in the Visits can find additional information at www.ustda.gov/africanleadersvisits or on social media via #ALVTransport and #ALVEnergy.

By emphasizing American ingenuity and innovation that can address the continent’s infrastructure needs, the African Leaders’ Visits will help establish new – and strengthen existing – commercial partnerships between the United States and Africa.

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Making the Most of International Trade Shows

July 25, 2014

Arun Kumar is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

The International Trade Administration Commercial Service team may be the most connected business partners you will ever have. Our specialists are export experts, giving your business advice on potential trade partners, ways to market your company, and how to successfully export.

Now our Commercial Service team is making it even easier to succeed in exporting through an exciting video series called Export Experts. This series will provide information on trade shows, tips for exporting to rural areas, international exporting advice, and so much more.

The first video of this series is about making the most of international trade shows, which can be great opportunities to meet lots of different people in one place. They can be efficient and beneficial events for any company looking to expand to new markets.

Here are some tips about trade shows that we as commercial service officers have learned through our years of exporting assistance.

  1. Go prepared. Know your product, understand your client base, be professional. You are at a trade show to create connections with people that could become your business partners. Making a good impression is key, so know your stuff.
  2. Be interactive. One great way to stand out is to have something that attracts people to your booth. Whether it be a video or a product demonstration, keep people engaged.
  3. Make connections. You are there to meet new people, and form potential partnerships, not just to sell your product. If your company can help another company make money, you will always be in business.
  4. Follow up, and follow through. Probably the most important thing to do after a trade show is reconnect with the people you met. The only way to create these lasting business relationships is to stay connected to the people you meet.

Commercial Service officers are here to help you succeed in expanding your business. We have various tools and ideas to prepare you and maximize your time at trade shows. Contact your nearest Export Assistance Center today to find out about upcoming trade shows and how to succeed in the global marketplace.

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Supporting the Best Environment for U.S. Exporters

July 24, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

The ITA Environmental Technology Team is ready to support your business!

The ITA Environmental Technology Team is ready to support your business!

One way the International Trade Administration (ITA) supports U.S. exporters is through specific teams of specialists who focus on specific industry sectors.

From marine technology, to health care, to automobile manufacturing, ITA offers export support in a variety of sectors.

To promote professional development and to make sure our specialists stay on top of the latest business trends and opportunities, our teams come together to share lessons learned, study best practices, and discuss ways their industry is changing.

This month, the Environmental Technology team did just that.

Their week-long conference included various seminars which built on existing knowledge of export policies and emerging environmental technologies. These conferences benefit exporters because they keep the commercial service specialists up to date on the latest and greatest in their industry. The main focus of this year’s training sessions was ways the team can address pollution issues related to water, air, and soil, and to learn about new recycling technologies.

Other ways ITA supports environmental technology exporters are through programs such as;

The environmental sector is a large and growing industry. Environmental technologies make up a $735 billion global market with U.S. exports currently comprising about $45 billion of this market. Therefore there is much growth potential for U.S. envirotech exporters.

Industry-specific offices are just one of the ways ITA constantly works to make exporting easier for American businesses.

You can find out more about our industry teams and how they support exporters at export.gov. Or you can contact the Environmental Technology Team so they can help lead you in the right direction.

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U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Texas Oil Company Started Doing Business in Cameroon and Morocco

July 23, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

The geographic distance between Texas-based Arnold Oil Company and Sub-Saharan Africa may be thousands of miles, but their economic relationship has never been closer. U.S. businesses like the Arnold Oil Company are increasingly finding economic opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa: between 2001 to 2012, U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from $6.9 billion to $22.5 billion dollars. Africa is now home to six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world, leading President Obama to call sub-Saharan Africa the “world’s next major economic success story.” That is why the Department of Commerce is working to facilitate and advocate for American businesses in this growing region, and U.S. firms are eager to help unlock even more of Africa’s economic potential.

A family-owned supplier of automotive and oil lubricant products, the Arnold Oil Company became interested in expanding its business abroad. They met with the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Austin to request assistance in developing an exporting and marketing plan for their products. After creating a plan that satisfied the company, the USEAC arranged for a meeting with a representative from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to assist the Arnold Oil Company with financing its exports.

But the USEAC took its assistance one step further, introducing the Arnold Oil Company to a buyer in Cameroon, who eventually was signed as a distributer. As a result of this relationship, the Arnold Oil Company was able to ship their first exports of oil lubricants to Morocco, generating revenue of more than $24,000 in 2013. With assistance from the USEAC, the Arnold Oil Company was able to expand its business into one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world.

In 2012, the Commerce Department launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign to help U.S. businesses, like the Arnold Oil Company, take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the campaign, Commerce has expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa and dedicated an online Africa business portal to direct businesses to federal resources. In addition, on August 5, the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies will co-host the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on strengthening trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa.  The Forum will be attended by President Obama, Secretary Pritzker, Mayor Bloomberg, and other senior U.S. government officials. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa and seek to create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment. These efforts are helping American businesses expand and enter the global market for the first time, and the Department of Commerce remains committed to helping create more exporting success stories.

Businesses interested in learning more about the benefits of exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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Four Points for Finding “Harmony” in Exporting

July 23, 2014

Kenneth R. Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center.

A person in a stock room examines boxes

The numbers on the box help trade authorities know what’s in the box.

Numbers, numbers, numbers…! There are so many numbers to keep track of in global trade; and three, in particular, are commonly confused: the Harmonized Schedule (HS) Code, Schedule B Number, and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Number. They’re related but not the same.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, or Harmonized System, is a means for customs agents to know “what’s in the box” without having to open it or understand what’s written in various foreign languages on the shipping documentation. It’s a system for identifying commodities in trade based on a string of six to eight digits. The Harmonized System is used by 179 countries covering about 98 percent of world trade for the assessment of customs duties (“border taxes” on imports) and the collection of statistical data.

Under the Harmonized System, products are classified into two categories, 21 sections, and 96 chapters by form and function. For example, 8471.30, is “Portable automatic data processing machines, weighing not more than 10 kg, consisting of at least a central processing unit, a keyboard and a display.”

English translation: laptop computer.

Combined with the product’s origin and value, customs agents use the HS Code to derive the tariff to be assessed.

The string of numbers that customs uses to assess taxes is six to eight digits long. To get even more specific in the collection of statistics, however, countries that use the Harmonized System are permitted to add digits to the HS Code to a total of 10 digits. In the United States, we refer to the full, 10- digit string as the Schedule B Number if it’s for export and the HTS Number if it’s for import.

So many numbers, so little time! Here are four important things to know about the Harmonized System, Schedule B, and HTS:

  • Nearly Identical. Schedule B and HTS Numbers are identical except for the last two digits. You’d use these numbers on forms submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Bureau of the Census. You can self-classify your exports under Schedule B and obtain on-line training and support from the U.S. Census website.
  • Electronic Export Information (EEI). Exporters have the legal obligation under the Foreign Trade Regulations to record the export of any consignment whose value is equal to or in excess of $2,500 using the EEI. The Schedule B Number is used on the EEI to identify the commodities being exported.
  • Trade Data and Foreign Tariff Schedules. You can derive an HS Code by looking at the first six to eight digits of a Schedule B or HTS Number. Because of its universality, trade data is commonly reported by governments, the World Trade Organization and United Nations using the Harmonized System Code. Hence, the HS Code is an important tool in conducting market research. Similarly, the HS Code is the key to searching foreign governments’ tariff schedules.
  • Free Trade Agreements. You can view a list of Free Trade Agreements to which the U.S. is a Contracting Party, as well as detailed information on the benefits of each and how to take advantage of them.

Need help? Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Discusses Opportunities for U.S. Companies to Export

July 17, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. exports reached a record $2.3 trillion in 2013 and support a record 11.3 million U.S. jobs. Thousands of companies across the country made exporting a strategy to growing their business and in fact, exports have driven the economic recovery and job creation in a number of U.S. cities. Because of the critical role of exports, the Department of Commerce recently launched the next phase of the NEI Next emblemNational Export Initiative, NEI/NEXT. Building on the success of the National Export Initiative, NEI/NEXT is a new customer service-driven strategy with improved information resources that will help American businesses capitalize on existing and new opportunities to sell Made-in-America goods and services abroad.

As part of this effort, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited the Qualcomm headquarters in San Diego, Calif. yesterday, where she led a roundtable discussion on the importance of U.S. exports with the “Global San Diego Export Plan” team. This plan, which aims to integrate exports into San Diego’s economic development strategy, is being developed in close consultation with the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

During the roundtable discussion, Secretary Pritzker met with local private and public sector leaders and learned more about the success of their export strategy and the challenges they still face. The partnership-driven export and investment strategy has made a big impact on the San Diego economy, but there are still more areas and opportunities for growth. One of the key objectives of NEI/NEXT is to promote exports as an economic development priority for communities across the country. San Diego’s export plan is an excellent example for how other cities and metropolitan areas across the country can partner with businesses and government to better facilitate exports.

Roundtable participants also spoke about the practical challenges they are facing including the role of small and medium sized businesses, infrastructure, retaining talent and branding. Secretary Pritzker discussed Department of Commerce resources and ways the Department and ITA could provide assistance to businesses and the Export Plan team to help overcome some of these challenges.

Since the launch of President Obama’s National Export Initiative in 2010, the United States has seen strong export-driven economic growth and has broken export records four years in a row. Increasing U.S. exports remains a top priority for the Obama Administration, and the Commerce Department is ready to assist San Diego and other communities in making the most of their exporting potential.

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