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3 Groundbreaking Mega-Trends on View at CES 2015

January 26, 2015

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

Jesse M. Lapierre is the Principal Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

International CES 2015 represented the perfect nexus of American innovation and global participation, with over 160,000 visitors and 2 million square feet of the newest and most innovative products limited not just to consumer electronics, but representing a whole new world of human and technological interaction. As a part of Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBP), our US Ambassador and I led a delegation of 45 Saudi companies to the show, and came away with some seriously groundbreaking mega-trends which I’d like to share with the ITA blogosphere.

U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Joseph W. Westphal, at breakfast with the delegation of Saudi Arabian companies brought to the International Electronics Show on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada by the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Buyer Program.

U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Joseph W. Westphal, at breakfast with the delegation of Saudi Arabian companies brought to the International Electronics Show on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBP).

The IBP is a joint government-industry effort that brings thousands of international buyers to the United States for business-to-business matchmaking with U.S. firms exhibiting at major industry trade shows. Every year, the IBP results in approximately a billion dollars in new business for U.S. companies, and increased international attendance for participating U.S. trade show organizers.

The first, and most ubiquitous, mega-trend was that of the Internet of Everything (IoE), which was described in great detail by Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich. In his view, we are now on the cusp of a revolution of roughly the same magnitude as the one in micro-processing that brought us the smartphones, laptops, and tablets that drive our mobile society. This current revolution is the result of the convergence of nano-sized chips, sensors, and transmitters which will enable the world to react to the individual, and vice-versa, with new levels of integration never seen in our lifetime. He highlighted the level of integration by examples of pills that can tell doctors when they’ve been swallowed; doors that open when the see the face of the occupant; and movie streaming services that can pick a movie based on mood of the viewer as sensed by the player. The future, truly, is now.

The second mega-trend was the blurring of lines between the auto industry and the electronics industry, highlighted in a stirring keynote by Ford CEO Mark Fields. Fields boldly stated that the automotive industry had moved from simply a product-based industry to a mobility industry, creating solutions for moving people on a global scale. From cures for traffic in Chennai and Chongqing, to mobile health solutions in Johannesburg, Fields gave a vision of a new world where auto tech utilizes data and connectivity from the Internet of Everything to create mobility solutions that mean more than just cars. In his vision, cars and technology intersect to provide answers to some of our most pressing problems. He also demonstrated how Ford is crowdsourcing these solutions and integrating them into product design for the next generation of Ford vehicles.

The third mega-trend introduced the theory of seamless movement from 2D to 3D and back again. The idea raised by HP Inc.’s new CEO Dion Wiesler was that by combining device-integrated 3D scanners, 3D printers, and new advances in material nanoscience, we can accomplish unbroken transitions between the 3D world that we inhabit and the 2D screen that we interact with. He demonstrated this concept with their new ‘Sprout’ device, which integrates 3D scanning and image manipulation with 3D printing capabilities, all in real time. It was also the first time I heard the consistent use of the word ‘voxel’ or ‘volumetric pixel’ to describe the movement from the 2D pixel on your screen into a 3D physical unit that can shape and reflect the space we inhabit.

I hope that I’ve whet your appetite to discover more about these trends and technologies, and that you’ll also notice that all of these concepts were driven by US companies. Along with EurekaPark, an area devoted just to start-ups, International CES confirmed that “American Innovation” is by no means dead, but alive, thriving, and on display for the world to see. Ma’salama from Saudi Arabia.

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Data Snapshot: How Much Do Small- and Medium-sized Businesses Contribute to U.S. Exports?

January 22, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by Jane Callen, Economics and Statistics Administration.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said that “21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas.  Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages…”

Following on the President’s remarks, we thought it would be valuable to take a quick “data snapshot” of the most recent annual report on exporting companies published by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2014 report shows that small-and-medium-sized companies continue to contribute a larger share of our exports than in the past. As the below graph shows, in 2013 (the most recent year for which we have data), these companies accounted for approximately 35 percent of total goods export value — continuing a steady growth trend of the past decade.

Exports of American products overseas are important to the economic health of the U.S., and these data highlight the significant ongoing role of small-and-medium-sized companies. Stay tuned to this space for regular data “snapshots” of what is happening in the world around us, as seen through our statistical lens.

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2015 Will Be the Biggest Year Yet for International Opportunities for Regional Economic Development

January 22, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

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

Guest blog post by JoAnn Crary, CEcD, President of Saginaw Future, Inc. and 2015 Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Economic Development Council

2015 is off to a great start for International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and I am excited and honored to spend the next 12 months as the Chair of our Board of Directors. In this capacity, I will be traveling the globe and conferring with my fellow economic developers on many of the pressing issues and opportunities our profession is facing. One event I am particularly looking forward to attending is the 2nd SelectUSA Investment Summit. Having attended the first Investment Summit in 2013, I can personally attest to the value of coming to Washington to meet with colleagues from across the U.S., hundreds of international investors – I’m told this year’s summit will feature twice as many investors – and hear from a robust speaking program featuring top administration leaders in foreign direct investment attraction.

Foreign direct investment has proven to be a vital tool in the economic developer’s toolbox in the years following the Great Recession. In my own community, Saginaw, Michigan, it has contributed to the creation or retention of thousands of jobs over the past five years. One company, Nexteer, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in expanding their operations in Saginaw, which has resulted in thousands of jobs being created or retained. As an economic developer, I cannot overstate the importance of the resources that SelectUSA has provided my organization and countless others within my profession. Simply put: SelectUSA brings clarity, focus and action to the role of the federal government in supporting FDI attraction at the local, regional and state level. They are an essential partner in the work of economic developers to create jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities. They are also a valued partner of IEDC in Washington and have played a key role in raising the profile of our profession over the past few years.

Over the course of this year, IEDC will embark on the important work of creating training resources related to FDI attraction and export promotion. This work has been made possible through the generosity of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and will include training manuals and training courses on best practices and emerging trends in FDI attraction and export promotion. We will also be launching an effort to support reshoring activities, a project made possible by the Economic Development Administration with support from SelectUSA and other Department of Commerce resources, such as the Assessing Costs Everywhere (ACE) program. ACE is a useful tool for helping companies asses the real costs of doing business here at home versus overseas. No doubt we will have many opportunities to bring attention to the NEI/NEXT initiative, which is the second phase of the administration’s high-priority export promotion program that is already helping U.S. businesses expand the market reach of products and services made in the USA.

2015 will be a busy year for IEDC and the most productive year yet for programs and initiatives supporting attracting foreign investment, luring back previously U.S.-based business operations, and expanding opportunities for U.S. exporters. As we celebrate the end of 2015 next December, I am certain IEDC, our members, and our many partners within the Department of Commerce will be able to reflect on a long-list of accomplishments we can be proud of. I hope to see you at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in March, as well as at one of our exciting upcoming conferences.

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Doing Business in Burma – A Webinar Highlighting Key Opportunities and Challenges

January 21, 2015

Eduard Roytberg is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Ontario, California, and a member of U.S. Commercial Service’s Global Asia Team.

Geoffrey Parish is a Commercial Officer currently assigned to the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Boston, Massachusetts and is a member of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Global Asia Team.

In 2011, the Government of Burma embarked on a series of reforms aimed at opening Burma’s economy to the global marketplace. In response to this reform effort, the United States waived many of its economic sanctions on Burma. These policy changes opened the door for U.S. businesses to trade and invest in the country.

The United States supports the Burmese Government’s ongoing reform efforts, and believes that the participation of U.S. businesses in Burma’s economy can be a model for responsible investment and business operations, encouraging further change, promoting inclusive economic development, and contributing to the welfare of the Burmese people. Increasing U.S. trade and investment in Burma—a key priority for the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon—brings substantial benefits to both countries.

Last year, ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service opened its first-ever office in Rangoon, Burma. With U.S. merchandise exports to Burma more than doubling from 2012 to 2013, Burma is becoming a rapidly growing market for American products and services. Establishing a permanent ITA presence in Rangoon will enhance the critical role that ITA plays in supporting U.S. businesses seeking to grow and expand in foreign markets, and also supports the Commerce Department’s Open for Business Agenda.

A country of 51 million people, Burma boasts a rich natural resources base, a young labor force, and a prime geographic location. It has attracted strong interest from the international business community and our global competitors are already focused on the unique opportunities the country presents in a variety of sectors.

To help U.S. exporters better understand the business opportunities and challenges in this dynamic market, the U.S. Commercial Service will host a webinar on doing business in Burma on Wednesday, February 4, at 7:30pm EST. The webinar will provide a market overview and highlight key opportunities and challenges to help U.S. exporters working in a various industries.

The webinar will be led by James Golsen, the Senior Commercial Officer at the newly opened U.S. Commercial Service office in Rangoon. Golsen and his team are ready to assist U.S. exporters with market entry or expansion through a range of services, including market intelligence, international partner searches, trade counseling and business matchmaking with potential partners.

To register or for additional details about the webinar, visit http://go.usa.gov/MrmY.

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Greater Seattle: Marshaling Export Success for Future Gains in Direct Investment

January 15, 2015

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

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan Selig delivers remarks to the Annual Seattle Economic Forecasting Conference on January 15, 2015.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan Selig delivers remarks to the Annual Seattle Economic Forecasting Conference on January 15, 2015.

“Trade and investment is an expression of American greatness. It is not a threat to it.”

That was one of the messages ‎I delivered today at the 43rd Annual Economic Forecast Conference, held by the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County.

The Seattle Metropolitan area has already established itself as an elite export hub. In 2013, this part of the country sold more than $57 billion in goods exports, making it the fifth largest metropolitan export region in the country.

But today’s event was an opportunity for me to learn about how the Greater Seattle region is planning on marshaling that export prowess to attract foreign direct investment.

When Greater Seattle  ‎puts together their toolbox for attracting investment, they will find plenty of tools from ITA.

That includes SelectUSA, the first ever whole-of-government program to attract FDI.‎ Their experience and success in connecting foreign investors with economic development organizations, as well as their advocacy and ombudsman services are why companies ‎ from China, India, Germany, and South Africa among other countries are setting up shop in the U.S.

Another ITA tool is our work to make the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership a reality. While these are largely seen as trade agreements, they will also unlock also remove barriers to investment, which should boost FDI for the Greater Seattle region and the country.

Finally, we hope to bolster their public support efforts by doing our part to remind people that trade and investment is a platform for the best goods and services in the world, made by the best workforce.

On behalf of ITA, I would like to once again congratulate the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County for this plan, which will surely make the region a leading hub for FDI. You can be sure that we will be there to help along the way.

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Swiss Executives Announce $3 Billion Investment in the United States During Meeting with Secretary Pritzker

January 14, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Swiss Executives Announce $3 Billion Investment in the United States During Meeting with Secretary PritzkerToday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, NEC Director Jeff Zients and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, hosted a delegation of Swiss business leaders, who are making significant U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. The eight executives announced plans to invest $3 billion in their U.S. operations in 2015. The participants also discussed the importance of job-driven workforce training initiatives, which enhance the United States’ attractiveness as a destination for investment by better enabling employers to hire workers with the necessary skills and providing employers with the technical assistance needed to launch training programs.

The U.S.-Swiss diplomatic relationship dates back more than 160 years and currently, the U.S.-Swiss trading relationship totals nearly $100 billion annually. The total value of Swiss FDI in the U.S. has more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, growing from $65 billion to $140 billion, making Switzerland the 6th largest source. Additionally, Swiss investors are the top international source of R&D investment in the United States, spending nearly $9.4 billion in 2012. U.S. subsidiaries of Swiss firms employed over 472,200 U.S. workers in 2012, with an average annual salary of over $99,091. The apprenticeship model has become a major tool for developing a skilled workforce. Today’s meeting provided an opportunity for Swiss business leaders to share their experiences with apprenticeships and how that model can be expanded in the U.S. By partnering with Swiss companies to expand and start new registered apprenticeship programs, the pipeline of U.S. workers for in-demand jobs will be strengthened.

The investor delegation also covered the importance of SelectUSA, a government effort to attract, retain and expand business investment to and within the United States. SelectUSA leads the Interagency Investment Working Group to ensure investors, get the answers and assistance they need across the federal government. SelectUSA provides services to international investors of all sizes and U.S. state, regional and local economic development organizations (EDOs). The upcoming Summit will showcase investment opportunities from every corner of the United States, while high-profile business and government leaders share their insight on the latest business trends.

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One Year Later, Look South Looking Brighter

January 9, 2015

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

Joe Matthews recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

As yet another polar vortex bears down on much of the United States, we in the trade community can still find some sunshine in the fresh trade data through November 2014. Our export numbers are up globally, and some bright spots are appearing for trade with our friends to the south one year after launching the Look South initiative — they include:

  • U.S. goods exports to Look South markets (our 11 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner countries in Latin America) increased by $16.0 billion through November 2014, which accounts for more than one-third of the increase in U.S. global exports over the same period in 2013.
  • Despite most being small- and medium-sized economies, these 11 trade partners represent 20.3 percent of total U.S. good exports through November 2014, up from 16.7 percent in 2009.
  • In 2012 (the latest data available), more than 89,000 American companies exported to Look South markets. This is an increase of more than 2,600 from 2011.
  • In particular, Mexico stands out as an excellent place for U.S. companies to look for new opportunities as 1,700 of those 2,600 new firms entered the Mexican market.

Mexico is one hot destination, as goods exported to Mexico rose more than $13 billion through November 2014, an increase of 6.5 percent.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Mexico’s economic growth at 3.5 percent in 2015, which is a sizeable increase from the IMF’s 2014 prediction of 2.4 percent and bodes well for U.S. exports.

Colombia is an emerging export market thanks to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement that entered into force in 2012. U.S. exports to Colombia have increased by $1.8 billion through November 2014, a 10.8 percent increase over the same period 2013. Colombia was also a recent winner in the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business reports, jumping from 53 to 34 to take the top spot for all of Latin America.

The popularity of Latin American FTA markets as export destinations is heightened by improvements in economic growth. According to IMF estimates, in 2014, the top four economic growth performers in the region are Panama, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Colombia, three of which have FTAs with the United States. Strong growth in both the United States and these countries will positively affect one another, helping encourage trade.

Through November 2014, our progress with the Look South Initiative shines. So grab your warm weather gear and Look South for bright new opportunities—don’t forget your shades!

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