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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Completes Fact-Finding Mission With President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

February 5, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. Secretary Pritzker completed her fact-finding mission to Africa with the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) in Kigali, Rwanda. The goal of the trip for the PAC-DBIA members was to listen and learn, and in the near future, provide recommendations to President Obama and Secretary Pritzker that will guide the Administration’s policy choices with respect to enhancing commercial ties between the U.S. and countries across Africa. Secretary Pritzker and the Council also visited Nigeria from January 25-26 and Rwanda from January 27-28.

DBIA

Secretary Pritzker met with a group of local women entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda to learn about the successes and challenges they’ve experienced in starting their businesses. The Secretary traveled to Nigeria and Rwanda for a fact-finding mission with senior U.S. business executives who comprise the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA).

Rwanda is one of Africa’s economic success stories and a key partner within the East African Community (EAC). From 2000 to 2012, Rwanda’s economy grew at 8.1 percent per year. Furthermore, Rwanda has significantly improved its rankings in the World Banks’ Ease of Doing Business Index – Rwanda is ranked as 62nd out of 189 economies in the 2016 report and the second-best in Africa behind Mauritius. Less than a decade ago, Rwanda was ranked 143rd. The Council chose to visit Rwanda to gain a deeper understand of what Rwanda has done that has worked, and how the country’s progress can serve as an example for others in the region and across the continent.

In Kigali, the group first visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, home to the remains of victims of the 1994 genocide, which has become a permanent memorial, museum, and archive. Secretary Pritzker had the opportunity to pay tribute to those lost in the genocide and recognize Rwanda’s progress in moving beyond the tragedy.

Secretary Pritzker then met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame, to discuss ways to deepen the commercial relationship with Rwanda and some of the challenges facing our two nations. Following their meeting , Secretary Pritzker and President Kagame were joined by the PAC-DBIA members and African business executives for a roundtable about the economic benefits of increasing regional trade and integration efforts among the countries of the East African Community (EAC). While the EAC is the most progressive trading region in Africa, it still faces many challenges in areas like transportation and energy infrastructure and customs modernization. Private sector investments from both U.S. and African businesses would not only help solve these issues, but would also create new opportunities for increased U.S.-African commercial ties.

To wrap-up the visit in Kigali, Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Erica J. Barks-Ruggles hosted a roundtable with local businesswomen and gave the Council an opportunity to learn how they are contributing to the culture of entrepreneurship in the country. Rwanda is known for high rates of female participation in business and government, and members of the PAC-DBIA heard about the policies and programs –  whether instituted by the Government of Rwanda or directly supported by the U.S. Embassy – that have created such opportunities for women.  They also discussed the specific challenges entrepreneurs face, both as women and as business owners.

The Secretary’s fact-finding mission to Nigeria and Rwanda underscores the Obama Administration’s commitment to shifting the U.S. economic relationship with Africa from one based on aid to one based on trade and investment. During this trip, Secretary Pritzker also announced the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which will take place during the week of September 19, 2016, on the occasion of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. The first forum brought together hundreds of American and African CEOs with nearly every African head of state in an effort to spur more trade and investment between the United States and the 54 countries of Africa.

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From the Experts: A Playbook for Mitigating Cyber Risk to Your Corporate Networks As You Grow Your International Presence

February 4, 2016

Murat Muftari is an International Trade Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service in Eastern Michigan

Newsflash: If your company has a virtual presence then you’re automatically exposed to more cyber intrusions. And if your company is based in the U.S. and has an international footprint, the target on your company’s back is likely bigger than your non-U.S. competitors – a testament to American innovation.

Cyber Security

The majority of cyber intruders enter corporate networks through e-mails or web browsers – two systems accessed constantly by most employees.

Every day, cyber criminals around the globe gain access to proprietary information like product design specifications, supply chain details, negotiation strategies, intellectual property, and background on joint ventures and other partner agreements. These cyber intrusions result in tangible costs: according to the Ponemon Institute and IBM, in 2015 the average annual cost of a data breach was $3.8 million per company. Today’s 21st century business opportunities are inextricably linked to 21st century risk.

In January, the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturer’s Association and the U.S. Commercial Service East Michigan, gathered a panel of legal, cyber, and law enforcement experts to discuss their recommendations for avoiding cybersecurity risks as you grow your business.

According to Quinn Kuzmich at MainNerve, a cybersecurity services firm, you can choose to do three things with this risk: mitigate it, transfer it, and accept it. Companies must balance the priorities of reducing their vulnerabilities to cyberattacks, while being cognizant of risks they may be accepting at the same time.

The experts at the event presented a few cornerstones on which to build a successful corporate “cyber protection plan”:

  • An educated workforce
    • The majority of cyber intruders enter corporate networks through e-mails or web browsers – two systems accessed constantly by most employees. That reality means training your employees can be the most effective tactic in mitigating the vulnerability of your company’s intellectual property housed on your corporate networks. The more your employees can identify and avoid phishing attacks, spearing attempts, and malicious websites, the safer your corporate networks (and the proprietary information they safeguard) will be.
  • A skeptical IT security team
    • You have a problem if your IT security team says your corporate networks are safe. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), 69 percent of cyber intrusions are detected by a third party, meaning internal IT security teams are often not the ones finding vulnerabilities in their own networks. “Once hackers gain access to a network, their goal is to remain undetected as long as possible while elevating their level of access to sensitive information,” says Tom Winterhalter, Supervisory Special Agent with Detroit’s FBI office.

According to Kuzmich, a proactive IT security team is always skeptical of the safety of their own systems. They should perform regular penetration tests to find opportunities that cybercriminals see themselves. The team should bring up vulnerabilities, new threats, and concerns in meetings to the point that they sound like a broken record. If your IT security team fits that bill, they are much more likely to find cyber intrusions on their own networks and won’t be afraid to report them immediately.

  • Relationships with the right partners
    • Stories emerge daily about the latest firm with egg on their face, detailing how sensitive customer data or proprietary corporate information ended up in the hands of bad actors. Let’s face it: reporting a cyber intrusion to authorities can be embarrassing. However, the sooner you inform law enforcement of suspicious activity on your corporate networks, the quicker they can spring into action.

      “Being up front with law enforcement as soon as possible after you’ve found a breach can protect your assets, your intellectual property, and your employees,” according to Kuzmich. Alerting authorities doesn’t mean your story goes public – they have good reasons to keep the details confidential. The Cyber Crimes Unit at the Detroit FBI keeps their case information secret to limit the possibility that more cyber criminals will adopt previously effective tactics.

      If you have concerns your intellectual property was compromised in a cyber attack originating from overseas, the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) is another enforcement agency in your corner. The USPTO’s intellectual property experts embedded in many foreign countries go to bat for U.S. firms whose IP is compromised, even through cyber means.

With just one click of the mouse or a stroke of a key, cyber criminals can send your company reeling. Stopping every cyber attack against your firm is not likely an attainable goal; however, there are steps you can take to mitigate and transfer the risk associated with today’s connected world.

If you start with a network of educated employees, a team of ever-questioning IT professionals, and a collection of key partnerships, you’ll be on your way to better protecting your company’s proprietary information housed across your network. And in an ever-increasing globalized and knowledge based world, learning to proactively manage those risks will leave your company primed to take advantage of the 21st century opportunities that exist in the global marketplace.

 

 

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U.S. Machinery Exports: Discovering the Benefits of TPP

February 3, 2016

Padraic Sweeney is the Acting Machinery Team Leader for ITA’s Industry and Analysis Division

The United States is the world’s largest market for machinery, as well as the third-largest machinery supplier. In 2014, products such as machine tools, hydraulic excavators, combine harvesters, engines, motors, pumps, water-filtration and purification equipment and much more accounted for six percent of manufacturing production in the United States. The following year, exports grew significantly, particularly to Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) partner countries. In fact, more than 45 percent of machinery exports in 2014 went to countries in the TPP region, alone!

Construction Equipment

American exporters of high-quality construction equipment will benefit from TPP once the agreement is implemented.

With a high percentage of U.S. machinery being exported, the International Trade Administration’s Industry and Analysis team has prepared a TPP sector report that captures what machinery exporters can expect as a result of the recently negotiated trade agreement.

The TPP, once it takes effect, will reduce the cost of exporting, increase the competitiveness of U.S. goods, and promote fairness and transparency in trade among the participating countries. In addition, many tariffs will be reduced or completely eliminated. Japan will eliminate import taxes on all U.S. machinery exports immediately. Both Malaysia and New Zealand will eliminate taxes on nearly 94 percent of machinery exports imports immediately, upon implementation of the agreement.

Until the TPP takes effect, machinery equipment exporters face tariffs of up to 59 percent in some TPP countries, which make American products more expensive. This puts the United States’ mostly small- and medium-sized (SME) machinery manufacturers at a significant competitive disadvantage. This matters: in 2014, U.S. machinery manufacturing sector employed 1.4 million American workers in virtually every state. Machinery manufacturing also supports the jobs of thousands of Americans in a variety of other manufacturing and service industries.

For example, U.S. agricultural equipment manufacturers reported domestic and foreign sales totaling $38.6 billion in 2014. Of that amount, U.S. exports to the world were worth $11.1 billion. (This figure is calculated from 2014 U.S. total exports of products classified by the relevant 10-digit codes from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS).) Despite intense global competition, the United States enjoys a strong trade surplus in agricultural equipment. Under TPP, 100 percent of U.S. exports to New Zealand will be duty free immediately upon implementation, removing the last tariff barriers to this important regional market.

American exporters of high-quality construction equipment will also benefit from TPP once the agreement is implemented. Exporters currently face tariffs as high as 59 percent in Vietnam and 30 percent in Malaysia. At the same time, Chinese-made construction equipment faces much lower tariffs in those markets. TPP will level the playing field for U.S. producers by immediately eliminating Vietnamese tariffs on 97 percent of U.S exports of these products. Similarly, within four years, Malaysia will eliminate tariffs on 95 percent of imports of U.S. construction equipment exports.

U.S. manufactures’ commitment to produce high-quality equipment is key to our continued leadership in a highly competitive marketplace. In 2014, the industry exported $123.5 billion in products to the world.  TPP will help expose more countries to our quality machinery products.

To learn more about how TPP benefits U.S. workers and businesses visit trade.gov/TPP. For more information on this historic agreement and opportunities for U.S. machinery exporters, contact one of our local offices.

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Automotive Products: Expanding a Key Industry to TPP Countries

January 27, 2016

Scott Kennedy is ITA’s Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing

The auto industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the United States.  In 2014, $142 billion in U.S. automotive products, such as vehicles, engines, transmissions and tires were exported to the world.  These exports provide 928,000 jobs here in the U.S.  It’s no secret that this industry is booming and the United States is leading the way in exports.

Tires

In the last five years, the U.S. auto industry has nearly doubled its exports of products, such as vehicles, engines, transmissions and tires.

Over the years, the sector has evolved into a global industry with automakers from Europe, Japan, India, Russia, Korea and other countries all providing state-of-the-art equipment for consumers. While auto production occurs in nearly every corner of the world, consumers across the globe have become increasingly fond of cars and trucks made in the United States, creating great opportunities to sell U.S. products overseas.  In the last five years, the U.S. auto industry has nearly doubled its exports, with growth forecast to continue. In order to meet the demands of consumers while leveling the playing field for American workers, trade ministers from 12 nations recently completed negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This historic agreement is one of a kind. The TPP will reduce the cost of exporting, increase the competitiveness of U.S. firms, and promote fairness and transparency. Why is this important for the automotive industry? Prior to TPP, United States automotive product exporters faced an estimated $22 million in duties with exports to TPP countries every year. The International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Industry and Analysis division has developed a TPP sector report that captures what exporters in the industry can expect as a result from the new partnership.

The United States exports nearly $1.3 billion in auto parts to new TPP markets each year. These exports face tariffs as high as 40 percent in Malaysia and 32 percent in Vietnam. At the same time, competing auto parts made in China face lower—or even zero—tariffs in Malaysia and Vietnam as a result of trade agreements that China has with those countries. Under TPP, 98.1 percent of U.S. auto products exports will be eligible for immediate duty-free treatment into the new TPP markets, and all remaining tariffs will be eliminated over time.

Let’s not forget, American-made motorcycles are in high demand throughout the TPP region for their quality and craftsmanship. Yet, American-made motorcycles exports face prohibitive tariffs in new TPP markets: Vietnam applies tariffs as high as 75 percent, while Malaysia applies tariffs ranging up to 30 percent. Under TPP, United States motorcycles will see deep annual cuts to the tariffs before they are phased out entirely. These significant cuts, combined with the rising middle class in the Asia-Pacific region, will provide new export opportunities to America’s motorcycle manufacturers.

Additionally, did you know that the United States is the world’s largest remanufacturer? TPP contains provisions that will provide benefits for America’s competitive remanufacturing industry. Remanufacturing is a complex, high-value, and labor-intensive production process.  TPP ensures that recovered materials derived in the region and used in remanufactured goods count as TPP materials, allowing more goods to count as TPP originating. These commitments reduce the need for companies to import materials and components from outside the TPP region and incentivize domestic production, benefitting U.S. and other TPP workers.

ITA is here to provide companies with the tools to reach these emerging markets. We recently produced a series of Top Markets Reports that provides U.S. auto parts manufacturers an assessment of opportunities and challenges needed to successfully export to various markets throughout the world. For more information on this historic agreement and export opportunities for U.S. auto exporters, contact one of our local offices.

Visit us on the web to learn more about TPP and how it benefits America’s workers and businesses.

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The Future of Renewable Energy to TPP Countries

January 20, 2016

Adam O’Malley is ITA’s Director of the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries

The renewable energy industry remains one of the most dynamic, fast-changing and transformative sectors of the global economy. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that renewables will account for about 60 percent of new generating capacity installed over the next 25 years. This market penetration—along with technology advances and reduced production costs that are quickly moving the sector toward grid parity—underscores the important contribution of renewables to economic growth. Presently, we are seeing an intense demand for these technologies in overseas markets, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.

solar panels and windmill power plant

U.S. energy product exports to the world grew by seven percent between 2009-2014

Overall, U.S. energy product exports to the world grew by seven percent between 2009-2014. This number could be even higher, but the daunting reality of tariffs and service barriers have dampened demand for products such as turbines, solar cells, static convertors, civil nuclear equipment, and high-voltage electric conductors. In some markets, many energy products currently face tariffs as high as 30 percent. In 2014, 36 percent of U.S. energy products exports went to countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) region.

Thanks to the recently completed negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, once its enacted, exporters will no longer face many of these barriers when doing business in the 11 partner countries. The TPP will reduce the cost of exporting, increase competitiveness of U.S. firms, and promote fairness and transparency. For example, the renewable energy industry will save $24 million each year as countries such as Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Brunei will eliminate import taxes on nearly all of U.S. energy products exports immediately once the agreement is enacted. The implementation of strong intellectual property rights protection and enforceable labor and environmental obligations will also bolster U.S. competitiveness in the TPP region.

Our partner countries are calling on U.S. businesses to support new renewable energy projects with innovative products and services. As a result, the International Trade Administration (ITA) is providing American exporters with the tools they need to meet this demand.

ITA’s Industry and Analysis division recently produced the Renewable Energy Top Markets Report, a market assessment tool designed to help U.S. companies identify markets of opportunity and inform their export strategies related to renewable energy products and services. The report ranks top export markets, features case studies on key markets and identifies areas of opportunity and challenges faced when exporting to TPP partner countries including Canada, Japan, Chile, and Mexico.

Canada

Canada ranks No. 1 on ITA’s list of top renewable energy export markets for the second year in a row. During the next two years, Canada will account for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. exports in the sector. Canada’s national commitment to greenhouse gas reduction suggests significant clean energy investment through at least 2020. This means more opportunities for U.S. exporters. This TPP partner has undergone dramatic changes in its energy sector during the past few years, and is expected to rank sixth in installed renewable energy capacity through 2016.

Chile

Chile is one of the few markets that should support exports in each renewable energy technology, although solar is expected to dominate the export opportunity landscape, including both photvoltaic and concentrated solar power. Chile urgently needs to increase its energy output to meet expected demand growth. Luckily, Chile enjoys one of the world’s strongest resource bases for renewable energy and Chilean policymakers have made a firm commitment to support clean energy investment. Chiles’s open economy combined with its lack of domestic manufacturing capacity for renewable energy goods indicate that as development occurs, U.S. exporters will find considerable opportunity.

Japan

Japan ranks first on ITA’s list of top solar export markets. The market does not impose any local content policies or import tariffs and thus, U.S. exporters benefit from a market in which they can compete fairly with foreign and domestic suppliers. Licensing solar technologies to Japanese companies or providing equipment to manufacture solar panels are two market segments with potential export opportunity. A further opportunity may result from the sharing of best practices associated with financing off-grid solar. In particular, solar leasing arrangements may find a ready market in Japan thanks to the country’s well-established financial sector and growing demand for roof-mounted photovoltaic.

Mexico

Ongoing energy sector reforms make projecting renewable energy exports to Mexico challenging. However, perhaps no market offers as much potential for future U.S. renewable energy exports as Mexico. Mexico’s proximity to the United States and  its abundant renewable energy resource base indicate the potential for significant U.S. exports. Wind projects continue to command a large portion of clean energy investment in Mexico, attracting over $1 billion alone in 2014, nearly half of total clean energy investment within the country. As Mexico currently lacks a full wind supply chain, U.S. suppliers are well positioned to participate in this future growth. U.S. firms are encouraged to participate in the Mexican market, working with local colleagues to both shape the new regulatory environment and benefit from an important first-mover advantage.

For more information on exporting opportunities, reach out to your local trade specialist.

For more information on this historic trade agreement and the future of renewable energy and energy products exports, please download ITA’s energy products sector report and visit our TPP site.

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U.S. Transportation Equipment – Emerging Opportunities With TPP Countries

January 15, 2016

Scott Kennedy is ITA’s Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing

During the past few years, U.S. producers of transportation related goods and equipment have experienced an increase in demand for their products at home and overseas.  Products such as U.S.-built commercial aircraft, aircraft engines, miscellaneous aircraft parts, and parts of railway rolling stock, have become critical components to other countries’ transportation infrastructure system.

Commercial aircraft

U.S. exporters of commercial aircraft and aircraft engines will now have new opportunities in the TPP region.

Recently, leaders across the Pacific Rim signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The new agreement will eliminate tariffs, lower service barriers, and increase transparency while also increasing competitiveness by instituting stronger intellectual property rights protection, and establishing enforceable labor and environmental obligations.  The TPP will lead to an overall increase in economic activity and trade for the region.  As economies grow there will be a natural, corresponding rise in demand for transportation related products.

It may come as no surprise that in 2014, there were more than 680,000 U.S. transportation equipment manufacturing workers, accounting for four percent of total manufacturing production. To remain competitive, U.S. firms need duty-free access to overseas markets. Currently, some exporters face high tariffs and a host of other obstacles when conducting business in some of the TPP countries. This historic agreement will reduce the cost of exporting, increase competitiveness of U.S. firms, and promote fairness for transportation equipment manufacturers.

ITA’s Industry and Analysis division recently released a transportation equipment sector report that highlights the benefits of TPP related to some key players in the transportation industry. Thanks to TPP, Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, and New Zealand will eliminate import taxes on all U.S. transportation exports immediately. TPP is critical because 26 percent of U.S. transportation equipment exports to the world went to TPP countries.

For example, U.S. exporters of aircraft and aerospace equipment will now have new opportunities in the TPP region. TPP’s streamlined customs provisions will cut red tape and facilitate trade throughout the region, further enhancing the U.S. industry’s competitiveness.  Many TPP partners have already been identified as being Top Markets for U.S. aerospace parts producers, including Singapore, Canada, Japan, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and Malaysia.  Singapore is already a transportation linchpin for the region and a hub for aircraft maintenance.  Singapore is consistently a top market for U.S. aerospace parts exports, and parts exports averaged over $5 billion between 2004 and 2013.  As trade in the region expands manufacturers could expect this demand to grow.

Similar to aerospace exports- the United States is a competitive producer in railway equipment including railway rolling stock, switching equipment, and signaling and safety equipment. However, U.S. exports of railway equipment face tariffs of five percent in Malaysia and New Zealand, making those products less competitive compared to Chinese goods which face low or zero tariffs in those markets. Under TPP, both countries will eliminate tariffs on all U.S. exports of railway equipment.

Internationally, the demand for transportation equipment is expanding.  By offering stronger opportunities for U.S. exporters to compete abroad, we will enhance innovation and job growth at home.  To learn more about this historic agreement and access our market assessment tools for U.S. exporters, visit trade.gov or contact one of our local offices.

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U.S. Exporter Finds “Lofty” Niche in Light Lift Technology

January 14, 2016

Curt Cultice is a Senior Communications Specialist in ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service

John Falls always had an affinity for engineering. One day, after taking advice from his brother-in-law, Falls partnered with long-time friend Ron Williams to pursue a solution that would allow people to safely and easily clean chandelier fixtures and replace bulbs without using a ladder. The two began building motors and winches that, when attached to pulleys, created a system that could raise and lower a chandelier. Soon, they were marketing their product to lighting showrooms around Memphis and Nashville, thus beginning Aladdin Light Lift of Huntsville, Alabama.

Chanelier

No ladder needed here. Aladdin Light Lift technology allows for easy maintenance through the lowering and raising of chandeliers, as shown by company representative, Kelly Mullins. The Alabama-based firm sells its products globally and stands to benefit from the TPP.

Falls and Williams were onto something, and by late 1990, the year of the company’s founding, the firm was selling an average of 10-30 motors and winches a month. The company branched out to area lighting representatives and set up distribution channels in Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia, before selling to independent lighting representatives nationwide. Now, more than 25 years later, the business has sold 300,000 units in the United States and overseas.

Zach Barry worked as a product technician with John Falls in the early days of the company prior to being promoted to international sales manager in 2009. As Barry explains, Aladdin Light Lift services two primary markets: residential and commercial. The firm’s pre-wired pulley system of high-quality winches and motors support up to 1,000 pounds, with the 200-pound capacity model being the most popular in the United States. Overseas, its biggest sellers have a heavy-duty capacity of between 700 and 1,000 pounds, satisfying a strong niche market that gives the company a competitive edge over competitors from China and South Korea.

Selling to Trans-Pacific Partnership Markets

In the United States, about 80 percent of Aladdin Light Lift’s sales are residential and 20 percent commercial. But it’s the opposite internationally. Barry initiates about half the business, and the rest comes from referrals and word-of-mouth promotion. In 1996, the company made its first foray into exporting by making sales to Canada, and continues to expand its overseas sales today.

Once enacted, the company stands to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). By reducing or eliminating tariffs as well as non-tariff barriers, TPP will give U.S. businesses improved access to 11 Pacific Rim markets which collectively representing 40 percent of global GDP.

Presently, Aladdin Light Lift sells to distributors in 14 markets across the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia, including the TPP countries of Canada, Japan, Australia and Singapore. In fact, “The TPP countries account for nearly two-thirds of our overall export sales,” adds Barry. “We see the anticipated natural saturation and assimilation of more U.S. products and services into those markets as a real potential benefit.”

As Barry points out, that is exactly what resulted from the North American Free Trade Agreement, starting in the mid-1990s. The agreement increased overall demand for U.S. products and services and helped make Canada Aladdin Light Lift’s largest market. The company expects that increased demand for U.S. design, architecture, and construction firms doing business in TPP markets will in turn facilitate demand for Aladdin’s products.

While most TPP countries already have duty-free entry for Aladdin Light Lift’s products, implementation of the TPP agreement would immediately eliminate a five percent duty in New Zealand and Malaysia, opening doors for possible future sales. In addition, Brunei’s 20-percent tariff would be eliminated after seven years.

“Asia is a great market for us, and in places like Singapore and Japan, they are building upwards due to space restrictions,” says Barry. “That means lots of apartments and condos with low ceilings and few chandeliers. So, in these markets, we are focused on the solid commercial opportunities in hospitality, such as hotels and restaurants—and, most importantly, many of these TPP countries have the wealth to keep on building and buying.”

Aladdin Light Lift also does great business in Australia, where its customer base extends into the realm of the rich and famous, such as Angus Young, lead guitarist and songwriter of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, whose home was outfitted with Aladdin Light Lift products. That “rocks.”

The “Go-To” U.S. Commercial Service

Barry credits much of the company’s international success to the U.S. Commercial Service (CS), describing it as part of his “export team.” Leveraging export counseling, market research, international partner searches, business matchmaking, and “general hand-holding,” Barry has connected with new global distributors through CS trade professionals in Alabama and Tennessee and at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

“I was first introduced to the CS in Memphis,” he says. “Had I not been, I doubt our firm would be selling much beyond Canada right now, nor would I be working at this level with the company. When things are slow in the U.S. economy, we need to be selling overseas to keep up our sales, and vice versa.”

As for exporting, Barry says that if his company can do it, any company can. He notes the success of the firm’s niche product, and that, without exporting, the company would be minus as much as $400,000 since 2010, with fewer employees. But with exporting, its revenues have grown an average of $200,000 a year, with sales abroad accounting for eight percent of total revenue. The company has also grown from two to 15 employees since its founding. Today, John Falls serves as company president, and his wife Susan, as executive vice president. Ron Williams continued to offer encouragement and support after buying out of the firm years ago.

“Exporting keeps us competitive because it forces us to adjust to meet demands of the international marketplace,” says Barry. “We are always looking to take a page out of a competitor’s book.”

For Aladdin Light Lift, that means continuously improving its product line while monitoring trends in consumer behavior. As for lofty ceilings, will more international consumers “see the light” by hanging more chandeliers with Aladdin Light Lift technology? Barry is sure of it.

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