Author Archive

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Former Secretaries of Commerce Urge Congress to Pass Trade Promotion Authority

March 25, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by William M. Daley, former Secretary of Commerce (1997-2000)

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley

Free trade agreements are critical to strengthening American competitiveness, spurring economic growth, and bolstering job creation. With the trade agreements we currently have in place, U.S. exports hit a record-high for the fifth straight year in 2014, reaching $2.34 trillion and supporting 11.7 million American jobs. Goods exports to the 20 economies that have trade agreements with the United States reached a record $765.1 billion in 2014– an increase of 4.3 percent from 2013.

As Commerce Secretary under President Clinton, I led a number of efforts to open new markets to U.S. goods and services, and to help American companies navigate the trade landscape in foreign countries. I visited more than 40 countries to promote U.S. exports, expanded the Department’s overseas commercial staff to support U.S. exporters, and aggressively monitored the impact of trade practices of other nations on U.S. business and workers. I saw firsthand how free trade agreements benefited American businesses, and supported good-paying jobs for American workers.

We must ensure that President Obama can utilize the same tools to negotiate and implement new trade agreements that have been afforded to every President since President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.Along with nine other Commerce Secretaries whose tenures span back to 1973,  we all agree – passing Trade Promotion Authority is not a Democratic or Republican request; it is a bipartisan issue that Congress must address now.

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The Innovative and Useful U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool (Video)

March 25, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

When you think of business and investment opportunities in the United States, where’s the best place to start?  America is made up of 50 states plus territories and each location has its own unique economic profile. The U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool, a combined effort of the Harvard Business School and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, is THE starting place for anyone looking to expand their business in the U.S. The free, online Cluster Mapping tool uses more than 50 million data records to help you identify industry regional clusters and make informed investment decisions.

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2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit Off to a Roaring Start

March 24, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director of SelectUSA

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker greets President Barack Obama at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker greets President Barack Obama at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit.

With more than 2,600 people from more than 70 markets, and economic development organizations from all corners of the United States, the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit has record attendance. In fact, it is more than twice as large as the inaugural 2013 event and reflects growing global interest in the United States as a place to launch and expand operations, invest in research and development, and create jobs.

Day One of the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit just concluded and what an exciting day it was. We were honored to have President Obama speak and announce some new initiatives to make investing and expanding within the United States even easier.

He announced that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will increase clarity around the adjudication of the L-1B non-immigrant visa that allows international companies to temporarily deploy workers with specialized knowledge to the United States when launching or conducting operations here. This long-anticipated policy guidance is of particular interest to global companies participating in today’s SelectUSA Investment Summit.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will establish the first-ever federal advisory committee to solicit formal input on the development and implementation of strategies and programs to attract and retain foreign direct investment in the United States.

Finally, SelectUSA will continue to improve investment tools, enhance trainings for investors, and expand partnerships with state economic development organizations. A new partnership platform will improve state-federal coordination, inform SelectUSA services and programs, and promote high standards in investment-promotion activities across the country.

Secretary Pritzker opened the conference laying out all the reasons why the United States is the number one place to invest. She highlighted that companies choose to invest here because of our rising job market; the strong rule of law and intellectual property protections; our world-class universities and our global leadership in R&D; our stable financial markets and our vibrant supply chains; and our abundant and affordable energy supply. I heard businesses today share that they invested in the United States because of our low tariff rates and the low barriers to entry to our communities. Investors also choose the United States because of the talent and ingenuity of our people.

We also heard from Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council, and a phenomenal panel of executives, discussing the resurging U.S. economy. It is clear that this is the right time to invest in the United States.

We also heard about the world-leading opportunities for innovation. We learned more about why international companies spend 48 billion dollars a year on U.S. research and development.

Breakout sessions featured impressive speakers like Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Mike McNamara of Flextronics, and many others, discussed supply chains and advanced manufacturing; tax policy; success for small businesses; resources for start-ups; opportunities to innovate together with American universities; and the new energy economy. Secretary Tom Vilsack and Governor Susana Martinez spoke about the incredible opportunity in investing in rural America.

The topics we covered today are exceptionally diverse, and there’s a reason for that. The United States, with its 50 states and territories, is full of diversity. It’s one of our greatest strengths.

Regardless of your size or home country, you can find the market, the people, and the place that you need to be successful here in the United States. SelectUSA is ready to be your partner as you search.

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Innovation and Software are the Reasons to Select the USA

March 23, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA

Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens, USA

Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens, USA

Today, as part of the Select USA Investment Summit, I had the honor of joining an impressive group of business leaders, international investors and experts for an in-depth conversation about how innovation and R&D is helping to fuel private sector investment, and why the United States is poised for tremendous growth.

I’d like to applaud U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker for bringing together more than 2,500 participants representing 60 countries, drawing international attention to the U.S. as a premier country to invest in at such an optimal time.  International companies representing countries from around the globe, such as Germany, contribute largely to Federal Direct Investment (FDI) and find the U.S. an attractive place to invest.  And Siemens does too.

To give you a little bit of background, Siemens is one of the world’s oldest and biggest companies.  Having been in the U.S. for over 150 years, we currently employ nearly 50,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.  We have more than 70 manufacturing sites in the U.S. and invest more than $1 billion annually in R&D here.

The U.S. has become an innovation engine for Siemens.  It is not only our largest market, but is also an extremely vital production location, one of our most important research centers and a key base from which we export to the rest of the world.  Siemens has invested over $35 billion in America over the past decade, including over $10 billion in the past year alone.

So why invest in the U.S.?  As a global company, when we are looking for a new location to invest or to manufacture, we consider many factors and there are several which are unique to the U.S. market, giving it a leg up on the competition.

  • Strong ecosystem for innovation and R&D
  • World-class colleges and universities
  • Leadership in software and the digital economy

It’s clear that the primary trait that sets the U.S. apart as a unique and unrivaled place to invest is an undeniable spirit of innovation. The U.S. has an environment of innovation, collaboration and talent that is unmatched anywhere in the world.

Siemens is tapping into this innovation in many ways, including through our venture capital arm that has invested in more than 170 companies and 40 VC funds across industries—all with an eye towards seeding innovation that can transform manufacturing and industry.

The type of manufacturing where the U.S. is truly advantaged is advanced manufacturing.  This type of manufacturing plays to unique U.S. strengths – namely, innovation.

Nobody has better colleges and universities, national labs and access to leading innovators, and being in America enables manufacturers to be close to leading markets, with well-trained workers, leading R&D, a strong but aging infrastructure and government policies that encourage investment.  In addition, the U.S. now has access to some of the lowest cost energy and electricity in the world.  All of this makes it possible to build high-end products in America as cost-competitively as anywhere else.

And that’s not even mentioning America’s biggest advantage, which is software.  Software is taking over bigger and bigger chunks of the economy.  After all, the world’s largest bookseller today – Amazon – is a software company.  The world’s largest video service by number of subscribers – Netflix – is a software company. The world’s largest music companies – from Apple to Pandora to Spotify – are software companies.

Just think of all the things we used to do in person that we now do online. Banking. Shopping. Studying. Movies. Books. Television. Travel. The list goes on.

Software is the heart of the digital economy.  What we are living through right now is a software revolution that is collapsing the boundaries between the real and online worlds – turning the global economy into a virtual economy.

This intersection of information and industry has the potential to add $10-15 trillion to global GDP over the next two decades while revolutionizing how we live.  And as the long-time leader in software development, the U.S. has a competitive advantage.  This increasingly digital world offers a tremendous opportunity and it’s clear that the U.S. will lead the way.

However, in order to capture this moment of opportunity and drive innovation even faster here in the U.S., we need to:

  • Continue to develop a skilled workforce for this increasingly digital economy
  • Revitalize our aging infrastructure
  • Reduce trade barriers through international agreements like Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Now is the time for the U.S. to seize this moment of incredible potential.

The real opportunity here isn’t just the next IPO, or the development of the next buzzworthy app.  The real opportunity is harnessing the intrinsic power of data to design, build and maintain the industrial technology that drives our daily lives.  To make real things.  Things that “think” and adapt to changing circumstances in real time; things that change how our cities are powered, how our industries manufacture, how our trains travel, how our surgeons operate; things that make our lives better in countless different ways.

As this data is analyzed and reveals trends and insights that have never been available to us before, it’s clear that there will be a profound impact on the economy.  You can call it a data revolution.  You can call it a digital revolution.  But here’s what it really is: asoftware revolution.  And with the U.S. generating 70 percent of software for industry, for Siemens – in this sector as in so many others – all roads lead to America.

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2015 MDCP Awards: Funding for Projects that Generate Exports

March 20, 2015

Brad Hess is the Director of the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP).

Trade associations like the American Association of Independent Music, whose representatives are pictured above with Deputy Assistant Secretary Maureen Smith, can receive MDCP awards of up to $300,000 to pursue export development projects.

Trade associations like the American Association of Independent Music, whose representatives are pictured above with Deputy Assistant Secretary Maureen Smith (left), can receive MDCP awards of up to $300,000 to pursue export development projects.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is now accepting applications for the 2015 Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) financial awards. ITA’s Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis Marcus Jadotte announced an April 27 deadline for applications for this year’s awards.

Eligible applicants include trade associations, chambers of commerce, and other non-profit industry and economic development groups. An MDCP award to such a group includes both financial and technical assistance from ITA in support of projects that help U.S. firms to export.

MDCP awards are cooperative agreements. So, in addition to financial assistance, an award recipient benefits from a worldwide team of ITA professionals who advise and assist. Working together with these non-profit industry groups, ITA can help U.S. businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, promote and sell their goods and services to international consumers.

The competing non-profit groups will propose innovative projects that generate exports that create or sustain U.S. jobs. An eligible non-profit group must pledge a minimum of two-thirds of the costs of the project and plan to continue the project after the three-to-five year award period. An individual award is limited to $300,000. The funds may be spent during a minimum of three years at a rate determined by the project.

Since MDCP’s inaugural year in 1993, 136 awards have been issued. Uniform reporting of MDCP-generating exports began in 1997. From 1997 to 2014, the average annual exports generated by MDCP projects were $595million. On average, during this period, $335 in exports has been generated by MDCP projects for every $1 of MDCP award.

For more information, please visit http://trade.gov/mdcp/index.html.

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SelectUSA 2015 Investment Summit Highlighting United States As Premier Investment Destination

March 20, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

There is no time like the present to invest in the United States. In fact, the U.S. is rated #1 in the latest A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index for the second year in a row, with the highest net positive rating in the index’s 16-year history.

With an incredibly attractive consumer market, a thriving culture of innovation, and the most productive workforce, the U.S. has shown itself to be an economic powerhouse. Companies of all sizes – big or small, startup or multinational– can benefit from the ideas, resources, and markets the U.S. offers in order to become a globally competitive nation. Because of these reasons, the U.S. proudly welcomes international investment.

When deciding to invest in the U.S., firms can look at five factors:

  1. Market: The U.S. is home to the most attractive consumer market and serves as a competitive export hub to the rest of the world. Free trade agreements with 20 nations give U.S.-based exporters better access to markets with more potential consumers.
  2. Economic Growth: During 2013 to 2014, Real GDP grew at a 2.8 percent annual pace. The private sector successfully expands with the longest streak on record for job growth.
  3. Business-Friendly Environment: The U.S. offers a transparent, fair and stable business environment and thriving capital markets to support developing companies.
  4. Innovation: As a world leader in research and development (R&D) and intellectual property protection, the U.S. provides a productive environment for innovation. Firms can improve their competitiveness by associating with research institutions and employing leading-edge manufacturing techniques.
  5. Resources: There is a manufacturing renaissance occurring due to the diversified resources, low cost energy and a well-educated workforce.

These compelling factors and more will be on display at the 2015 SelectUSA Summit next week.   The two-day Summit, March 23-24, is the premier event for those considering an investment. The event will feature nearly 600 representatives from nearly every state and territory, providing ample opportunity for investors to find the information needed to make investment decisions and connect with the right people at the domestic level. Many states, territories, cities, and regions are also hosting booths in the Summit exhibition hall to connect directly with investors.

All year round, SelectUSA coordinates federal agencies to address investor concerns relating to federal regulations. This year, representatives from 20 federal agencies will be on-site at a U.S. Government Pavilion in the Summit exhibition hall to meet face to face with investors, as well as state and local representatives.

The Summit is at capacity with more than 2,600 people registered from more than 70 markets, doubling the size of the inaugural event in 2013. President Barack Obama will give the keynote address on the first day.  Other Administration officials delivering remarks include Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. Some of the world’s top CEOs will be there to discuss the advantages of investing in America and the jobs it creates. Among the executives speaking at the event will be Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, and David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, the world’s largest equity firm.

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Commerce Department Helps Connect Illinois Businesses to Africa

March 19, 2015

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

Guest blog post by David P. Storch is the Chairman & CEO of AAR Corp. He is also a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.  

During the next decade, Africa’s GDP is projected to rise six percent each year. The Continent is being called the world’s next major economic success story, and this growing and untapped potential includes the aviation market where AAR is a U.S.-based global player.

On Tuesday, I joined U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis Marcus Jadotte  to host a Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) roundtable in Chicago. This high-level gathering, with a select group of business leaders, was held to generate and share ideas on how the International Trade Administration (ITA) can help U.S. companies, primarily small- and medium-sized businesses, to better connect to, invest in, and export to Africa.

The roundtable brought together more than 30 leaders—from companies that focus on everything from investment capital to technology, and businesses ranging in size from start-ups to multimillion-dollar firms—to discuss the hurdles of conducting business in Africa and to learn how the U.S. government can help reduce those barriers.

According to my fellow business leaders who attended, particularly those from smaller companies, access to financing is a big obstacle to doing business in Africa. In fact, many say the only financing they can get is through the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Getting products across African borders is another challenge to selling products on the Continent. During his remarks, Assistant Secretary Jadotte advised companies interested in learning more about exporting to contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Centers, located in cities across the country.

For the last 30 years, AAR has traded aviation parts with customers in Africa. Recently, we started to focus on longer-term aviation service programs and relationships with businesses on the Continent. Our shift in focus is thanks to the increasing strength of African airlines and the help we received from the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, led by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During the roundtable, we also discussed another challenge to doing business in Africa: the lack of infrastructure. Using the aviation industry as an example, AAR can help African companies and workers gain aircraft maintenance knowledge and skills, but the countries also still need to build the related infrastructure needed for a more robust aviation industry, including runways, terminals, and hangars. Leaders at the roundtable suggested that the need for large capital investment in transportation, utilities, and communication is probably best served by African governments engaging in public-private partnerships.

We also talked about the desire of firms like AAR to partner with local African companies since they know the market better than we ever will. I think U.S. companies’ willingness to invest in Africa and its people also differentiates the United States. As U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said, “when U.S. companies succeed, the benefits are mutually shared in the form of new economic opportunity at home and abroad.”

The key takeaway from Tuesday’s roundtable is that small and mid-sized companies need a better understanding of the resources the U.S. government can provide to help them break into the African market, and how and where to access those resources and tools.

The Obama administration’s support and “tools” were key to enabling AAR to navigate the business landscape and land a five-year, multimillion-dollar contract in 2014 to support Kenya Airways fleet of 737NG aircraft. The advocacy and access AAR gained through the Commerce Department gave us an advantage in the face of stiff competition from European companies, who are typically well supported by their governments.

To continue the conversation, many of the ideas generated at this week’s Chicago roundtable will be included in the recommendations that the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa will present to President Obama in a public forum on April 8 in Washington, D.C.

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