Author Archive


Market Research that Challenges Your Assumptions

November 10, 2015

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

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

You are in the renewable energy business in the United States, and receive a notice about an upcoming conference on the topic to be held in Brazil. You’re interested, and start thinking about next steps. However, after talking with some colleagues at the office, you are quickly reminded that Brazil is in an economic slump, its politics more volatile than usual. “Slump” and “volatile” are not samba to your ears, and you decide that this isn’t the year to expand to Brazil.


Country Commercial Guides showcase market research intelligence for 120+ countries. 

You’ve made a mistake. There’s significant opportunity in the renewable energy market.

What should you have done to get an accurate understanding of the market, even if you decide not to go to a trade show for the industry?  Well, you should have consulted a resource that for many years has been providing reliable, in-depth market research for U.S. companies of all sizes. The publication is called the Country Commercial Guide (CCG) and there are Guides covering some 123 markets. Formerly comprised of large, door stop proportions, the CCGs from 2015 are divided into bite size bits and accessible online via In case we fail to mention it later, access is FREE. It’s never a good idea to select market opportunities based on faulty assumptions and hearsay.  With the CCG’s, you can get accurate, bankable information with an investment of a few minutes and a couple of mouse clicks. The format is mobile friendly, so you can peruse tidbits at your leisure, emailing yourself, or colleagues, to select pages for closer scrutiny later. Your boss may appreciate receiving this information for its brevity and insightfulness.

Size doesn’t matter

One of the first and most important things you notice is that despite a bumpy economy, caused in part by China’s falling demand for natural resources, Brazil is eager to build up its alternative energy capabilities. A drought in part of the country means that dependence on hydro power must be balanced with more solar and wind power. Businesses in the U.S. specializing in renewable energy should take note: Brazil isn’t your only best bet, and there’s opportunity in the most unlikely places—if you know where to look for it, like the Country Commercial Guide’s best prospect report on Renewable Energy.

A good place to look for buyers is trade shows, and Brazil has many, including in the energy sector. Trade shows inevitably provide a solution to one of businesses biggest challenges:  Where to find buyers—and these shows have a big collection of them under one large roof. Some of these shows will be attended by market and sector experts of the U.S. Commercial Service, based at the U.S. embassy and consulates. These folks know the buyers and will guide you to them, making sure reputations are impeccable and that they have the money and are ready to spend it. In turn the buyers may trust you more because the U.S. government is introducing you.

Here’s a sample of upcoming renewable energy shows in Brazil:

June 30-July 1, 2016, Rio de Janeiro, SP

Now that you’ve changed you mind about attending a trade show in Brazil, you wonder about temporary entry for samples or a popup table display. There’s a section in the CCG on temporary imports.

To your surprise, you learn that in this heavily taxed country, temporary imports are also taxed, but the amount is pro-rated based on the amount of time the goods are in the country. You can calculate the cost ahead of time. You learn that Brazil is examining the Carnet system, whereby participating countries agree not to tax temporary imports and a common document is used to expedite Customs processing. You make a note to check back in six months to see if Brazil has joined the Carnet system. If you make more frequent trips to Brazil, the Carnet, if adopted, will be useful.

Certain business protocols such as dress, perceptions of time, negotiation strategies, and trust are also covered in the CCG and can make the difference between making a sale and losing one. It’s not an overstatement to say that in no other publication, on or offline, can you find this mix of hard data and practical business acumen that you can apply immediately.

Oh, and did we mention that it’s FREE?


United States Earns Partner Country Status at World’s Largest Industrial Event; Unprecedented Showcase Opportunities for U.S. Manufacturers

November 9, 2015

This is a guest blog by Larry Turner, President & CEO of Hannover Fairs USA, a subsidiary of HANNOVER MESSE.

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

The timing couldn’t be better.  In recognition of the rapid progress to strengthen its industrial sector, the United States has been selected as the partner country for HANNOVER MESSE 2016, the world’s largest and most influential B2B event for industrial technology.

The trade fair, held April 25-29, 2016, in Hannover, Germany, offers an unprecedented opportunity for U.S. manufacturers and U.S. manufacturing solutions producers to showcase the results of modernization and digital integration.  The event attracts more than 220,000 attendees, 6,500 exhibitors and 2,400 global press members from more than 70 countries.

To take advantage of the partner country opportunity, HANNOVER MESSE projects the largest ever U.S. contingent to attend in 2016 to pursue business development and investment attraction.  It offers a significant opportunity for U.S. manufacturers to increase their business through export opportunities.

In addition, using HANNOVER MESSE as a platform will help state and local economic development agencies achieve the United States’ expressed goal of furthering global trade, attracting foreign direct investment, increasing export activities, and opening global markets—all leading to more business, more growth, and more jobs.

Greg Scheu, President of the Americas region for ABB, said, “As an American, I’m proud of ABB’s 67-year history with HANNOVER MESSE and pleased to introduce the United States audience to Hannover’s long tradition as the world’s largest and most important industrial technology trade fair. One of the most important things that ABB does is make manufacturing more competitive by increasing productivity and efficiencies, and HANNOVER MESSE, whose attendees are opinion leaders and decision makers, has long been a showcase for that. Just last year, we exhibited our breakthrough collaborative robot, YuMi, and we registered more than 10,000 qualified visitors to our HANNOVER MESSE booth. That level of exposure is invaluable to us.”

“HANNOVER MESSE is an excellent opportunity to promote American manufacturing and the interconnectedness of advanced manufacturing in a global arena,“ said Dr. Caralynn Collens, CEO of UI LABS, Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDI).  “Hannover Messe’s themes of ‘the Internet of Things” and “Industrie 4.0” are closely aligned with the strategic direction of our Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), bringing together world-class companies and innovators to transform manufacturing for the digital age.“

Dr. Helmuth Ludwig, Executive Vice President of Digital Enterprise Realization and Chief Manufacturing Officer for Siemens PLM Software, said, “Siemens is the largest exhibitor at HANNOVER MESSE, and we are very pleased to be able to showcase our latest innovations in electrification, automation and digitalization with a focus on the “Digital Enterprise” during the upcoming fair.”

To learn more about exhibiting or attending HANNOVER MESSE 2016, visit or contact Ethan Carter, Director of Sales at HFUSA, at


The U.S. Commercial Service helps Western Shelter Systems export, reduce time to market and avoid mistakes

November 4, 2015

This is a guest blog by Brice Barrett, Director of Sales for Western Shelter Systems and a client of the Commercial Service U.S. Export Assistance Center in Portland, Oregon.

Since 1988, Western Shelter Systems, based in Eugene, Oregon, has manufactured shelters that are easy to transport, simple to erect, and weather-secure for operations in remote locations. The shelters are used by fire, rescue, medical, military, and disaster response teams.

About 15 years ago, we exported our first shelter system to an Australian distributor to be used by wildfire firefighting teams. Our firm made other international sales through the years, mainly in response to inquiries from foreign buyers. The U.S. market for our products is seasonal and exporting became very important to us to achieve our long-term strategic growth objectives.

When I joined the company in 2013, my first priority was to identify the most appropriate export markets for our products in Latin America. I contacted the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) for assistance. I worked with Latin America specialists in Washington, D.C., and CS trade specialists in Portland to develop a data-driven methodology for selecting export markets. We analyzed key criteria across a number of markets and determined that Brazil, Chile, and Argentina represented the best prospects for us in Latin America.

CS Staff in Portland and Brazil organized more than 10 meetings for me with qualified distributors in three cities. As a result of the trip, we signed distributors in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina and have already realized significant sales in in all three countries.

We wouldn’t be where we are today in Latin America without the help of the CS and the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The team helped us get to market 12 months faster than would have been possible if we were going it alone.

We recently decided to enter the Korean market, and I again called upon the CS to help arrange meetings with key players in this new market for us. There is no way we could have made these connections without the CS. We’re working on significant opportunities with our new Korean distributor, and we have product demonstrations scheduled throughout the next year. We’re progressing pretty quickly.

We now sell our products in more than 20 countries, and I admit that exporting can be a difficult and long process, particularly in a country where you don’t know the language or the market. Before you export, you need to do your homework and there are people out there to help you. I urge you to take advantage of the CS’ local expertise in foreign markets. The CS saves me from making a bunch of mistakes.


Welcome and Congratulations to Lufthansa Technik!

November 2, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blogPost by Vinai Thummalapally 

There are few things more exciting than the moment when a multi-year project truly becomes a reality.  I had the honor of witnessing that this weekend, when I joined Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla; Dr. Johannes Bussmann, Chairman of the Executive Board of Lufthansa Technik; Simone Menne, member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG; German Ambassador Dr. Peter Wittig; and hundreds of new Lufthansa employees to celebrate the completion of the Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico (LTPR) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility.

Dignitaries celebrate

Dignitaries celebrate the completion of the Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico (LTPR) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility.

Congratulations and thank you to the teams from Puerto Rico and Lufthansa Technik.  Back in April 2014, I also had the pleasure of joining them when the deal was first announced.

The work undertaken by these teams, which began well before 2014, is impressive:  Puerto Rico competed effectively to win the deal and bring these jobs to the United States.  Lufthansa Technik has invested significantly in this project, which it completed on time.  Local contractors have been building the facility itself.  Companies like Spirit and JetBlue made commitments to use the facility for heavy maintenance support.  And of course, newly minted LTPR employees have been working hard and preparing to grow the business – and their careers – here.  Many even spent six months training in different Lufthansa Technik locations in Europe.

The results:  A gleaming new 215,000 square foot hangar that is serving short and medium haul aircraft, with more than 200 people employed on site.  Lufthansa has also built the foundation for a long-term workforce development partnership with the University of Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth’s Department of Education. Lufthansa anticipates offering high-skilled jobs for 400 local employees by early 2017, with an estimated economic impact of $2.2 billion during the next 30 years. This investment is creating new jobs with valuable training and opportunities for growth, and that means a lot to the families here.

That’s why SelectUSA was created.  Our job is to help U.S. locations compete for investment globally, and to serve as a single point of contact for investors, like Lufthansa, at the federal level.  We help investors find the information they need to make decisions; connect to the right people at the local level; navigate the federal regulatory system; and find solutions to issues related to the federal government.  We aim to make it easier for companies to set up operations in the United States and create high-quality jobs.

To facilitate this investment, SelectUSA coordinated an effort across the federal government, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, the President’s Taskforce on Puerto Rico, and many others, to present Lufthansa with the case for locating their investment in the United States.

We have continued to work with Lufthansa and Puerto Rico.  During the past two years, we have sincerely appreciated their spirit of cooperation and their willingness to share their experience and best practices with other investors and U.S. economic developers.

This spirit was evidenced throughout this weekend’s event, including one particularly unique element.  The company brought the Lufthansa Orchestra, composed entirely of Lufthansa employees, to provide music for the event.  This underscores the investment they are making in their people, and that now includes the people of Puerto Rico.


Powerful Connections: Introducing U.S. Businesses to Unprecedented Opportunities in Japan’s Electricity Market

October 30, 2015

Lilian Lee is an intern with the International Trade Administration’s Renewable Energy team

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami impact on Japan’s nuclear power sector revealed inherent challenges in Japan’s electricity market when metropolitan areas experienced rolling blackouts for the first time in half a century. These events spurred significant reforms in Japan’s electricity market, which until now has been dominated by the country’s 10 vertically integrated power companies. The reforms are opening new opportunities for U.S businesses to tap into the liberalization of a $67 billion Japanese retail market.

Earlier this month, the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the International Trade Center hosted members from the U.S. and Japanese public and private sectors in Washington, DC to discuss their perspectives on Japan’s changing electricity market and what the reforms mean for U.S. businesses.

Attendees heard about Japan’s roadmap for full liberalization of the retail electricity market and learned about resources available from both the U.S. and Japanese governments to assist them in engaging in this market.

Kaname Ogawa, Director of the Electricity Market Office in the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy in the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, Industry, and Investment (METI), outlined the reform process that began April 2015. The first part of the reforms established an organizational body to facilitate power interchange among Japan’s 10 regions that previously operated as independent units. Participants noted that U.S. businesses will encounter the most opportunities when the next two phases are deployed—in April 2016, the residential sector will open up to full retail competition; and by 2020, the transmission and distribution sector will be fully separated from the generation and retail sectors.

Daiki Nakajima, a Project Manager at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) shared information about some key resources available to U.S. businesses, including the Technology Partnering Program, interpretation services, free consultation, and office space. Skipping Stone, a U.S. energy consulting firm already operating in Japan, shared best practices and addressed myths about doing business in Japan.

As Maureen Smith, ITA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, noted in her opening remarks, there are many ways for U.S. firms to partner with Japanese utilities, government, and businesses and lend their experiences and innovations in a deregulated electricity market. She commented on the opportune timing of this development, as the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which Japan is a key member country, recently concluded in Atlanta, Georgia.

Peter Weigand, CEO and Founder of Skipping Stone, called Japan’s energy reforms an “unprecedented” market development opportunity. His comments were echoed by the Executive General Manager of International Business and Affairs at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Hirokazu Yamaguchi, who highlighted in his remarks the launching of the TEPCO Open Innovation program. This program is encouraging conservative energy product, service and technology companies from the United States to apply for partnerships with TEPCO to capitalize on this market opportunity and provide their advanced services and technology to consumers in Japan.

The Commerce Department is facilitating these partnerships and working on multiple fronts to connect U.S. businesses to opportunities in Japan. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker led a trade mission to Japan in 2014 that included U.S. energy companies looking to provide solutions to help Japan restructure its energy mix. Commerce has also increased cooperation to support the development of new and renewable sources of energy. For the past three years, the ITA has co-chaired the U.S.-Japan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Roundtable with Japan’s METI and the U.S. Department of Energy.

This month’s seminar discussion was well-aligned with the objectives of the Roundtable and trade mission. Japan’s energy reforms present significant opportunities for international business partners with interests in the country’s electricity market and smart grid development.  To learn more about opportunities in the Japanese electricity market for U.S. business, please see ITA’s 2015 Top Markets Reports on Smart Grid and Renewable Energy.


Aerospace: a sector that can elevate our collective international interests

October 27, 2015

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

Today, I attended the first industry specific all-of-government effort to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United States, the National Aerospace FDI Expo in California. The event reminded me of the evolution of this industry and the abundant potential in the global aerospace market.

Stefan Selig

Under Secretary Stefan Selig talks about the future of the Aerospace industry.

Aerospace has historically been the keystone of American leadership in the 20th century, leading into the 21st – from the defense technology that helped create the strongest military in history, to the space technology we pioneered, to the resulting services and products that have improved people’s lives here and around the world.

While witnessing hundreds of businesses connecting with each other and with local Economic Development Organizations (EDOs), I thought about the innovative and productive workforce that supports this industry. It truly is a testament to the power that the aerospace sector represents. The U.S. aerospace sector produces our country’s largest manufacturing surplus. It has registered an increase in exports during the past five years of more than 50 percent, and directly employs 500,000 American workers. Utility patents in the aerospace sector are twice those of the biopharmaceuticals sector, and the operational profit per employee is consistently higher than the global average.

As the leader of the International Trade Administration, I know that the aerospace industry in the United States can serve as an engine for growth and profits for international manufacturers through foreign direct investment. FDI stock into U.S. aerospace products and parts companies totaled just under $22.5 billion in 2014, growing since 2008 at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 6.3 percent. FDI growth in the aerospace sector outpaced all other industries during that same period. The development and ascendance of the industry; in conjunction with the global explosion of growth, development, and innovation has catalyzed the very industry we see today. Throughout the entire supply chain, this industry sector is more international than we have ever seen before.

That is why work of turning growth opportunities into business realities will continue after this week’s event. The SelectUSA team at ITA is continuously working to cultivate FDI opportunities. We help companies navigate the federal government by coordinating the resources and services of more than 20 federal agencies to address investors’ concerns, including those that relate to federal regulatory issues.

This is also why ITA has an entire Aerospace Team, within our Industry & Analysis unit, dedicated to supporting the industry by creating top-rate commercial intelligence, developing strategies and technical assistance to assist the sector, and connecting companies directly with business partners. Export resources such as the Aerospace Resource Guide have helped many companies learn the basics of exporting within the industry.

And as we look towards the future of Aerospace, a finalized Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP will offer an unprecedented opportunity to liberalize access for investment by ensuring fair and non-discriminatory treatment of investors. TPP will also strengthen and deepen aerospace supply chains. Aerospace manufacturers will have greater access to inputs gathered from all 12 TPP markets because those inputs will be considered originating and receive equal treatment as a domestically made input or product. We want to help U.S. companies tap into that potential and utilize these new benefits.

ITA is the industry’s primary export resource and should be your first point of contact when looking to sell internationally. Our team of domestic and international trade specialists, located at our Export Assistance Centers in the United States and at U.S. Embassies overseas, is prepared to assist in increasing your export sales.


UNITED STATES, APEC Economies Endorse Privacy Recognition in Support of Processors in Global Data Value Chain

October 26, 2015

Michael Rose is Policy Advisor in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Digital Services Industries 

At the recent Senior Officials Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the Philippines, the United States spearheaded the effort to draft and endorse the governing documents necessary to operationalize the APEC Privacy Recognition for Processors (PRP) system.  The success of this effort has led to the creation of a second system in APEC to certify the corporate privacy programs of data processors and allow for data transfers between APEC economies.  The PRP System was designed to help data processors demonstrate their ability to provide effective implementation of a personal information controller’s privacy obligations and to help controllers identify qualified and accountable processors.

The PRP was conceived as a companion to the existing APEC Cross-border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system, which provides a means for data controllers to transfer personal data across participating APEC economies in a manner in which individuals may trust that the privacy of their information is protected.  The CBPR system was endorsed by President Obama and other APEC leaders in November 2011, and held out as a model for facilitating global interoperability of privacy frameworks in the President’s 2012 Privacy Blueprint.  As a participant in the CBPR system, the United States has worked with a team of experts from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand to support the creation of the PRP system to expand the benefits of the digital value chain to data processors in the APEC region.

The 21 member economies of APEC endorsed the CBPR and PRP systems as a means of strengthening consumer privacy protections and trust across the Asia Pacific region while facilitating trade by minimizing barriers to the cross-border flow of information.

Both the APEC CBPR & PRP systems are voluntary but enforceable systems which promote a set of mutually recognized data privacy practices for companies doing business in participating APEC economies.  With the endorsement of the PRP, the total global value chain of the digital economy is supported by for a system of robust privacy rules that enables the cross-border data flows necessary for global trade.

While economies consider taking the necessary steps to join the PRP system, businesses and potential Accountability Agents can learn more by reviewing all relevant documentation and requirements at

ITA is excited to be leading this work on behalf of the Department of Commerce and is looking forward to encouraging additional countries and companies to join both the CBRP and PRP systems.  This is cutting edge work that could lead to a system that will help all stakeholders further strengthen privacy protection and increase trade and economic growth throughout the APEC region.  For additional questions about these initiatives, please contact Michael Rose at


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