Author Archive

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From Westerns to Dance Dramas, U.S. Filmmakers Pitch Their Projects to Chinese Investors

April 2, 2014

Marsha McDaniel is a Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate for Hong Kong and Macau.

Our team met with U.S. film producers and Chinese investors at Hong Kong Filmart to support investment.

Our Commercial Service team met with U.S. film producers and Chinese investors at Hong Kong Filmart to support investment in upcoming projects.

What do cowboy shows, hip hop dancer dramas, and adventure thrillers have in common? These are some of the exciting projects that U.S. filmmakers pitched to Chinese investors during SelectUSA’s debut at Hong Kong’s Filmart, Asia’s largest film and media trade show and the third largest film industry trade show in the world.

Commercial Service staff at the U.S. Consulates in Hong Kong and Guangzhou jointly organized this first-ever SelectUSA event at the trade show. The event, which was titled “China’s Pearl River Delta: Opportunities to Finance U.S. Productions” introduced investors to some of the exciting projects that U.S. filmmakers are currently developing.

A Captivated Audience

Five independent U.S. production companies presented a broad range of film projects to a captivated audience of roughly 30 investors. Audience members were clearly excited as U.S. filmmakers pitched numerous movie and television ideas, all with significant revenue potential.

According to Scott Shaw, Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong: “It is an exciting time for U.S. and China movie producers to work together as U.S.-China co-production benefits both the U.S. and Chinese film industries.”

Jim Rigassio, Principal Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, noted: “From a diplomatic perspective, activities such as this help to bring our two countries closer together, and I hope to see more U.S.-China coproduction in the future.”

Filmmakers: Opportunity to pitch in 2015

Based on the fantastic feedback from participants, Commercial Service teams in Hong Kong and Guangzhou will explore hosting a similar event at the 2015 Filmart show in Hong Kong. U.S. filmmakers with an interest in seeking investment and co-production opportunities are encouraged to get in touch with our Commercial Service staff to learn more.

This was the first of many events that will be organized under the Commercial Service’s Pearl River Delta Initiative, which aims to assist U.S. companies tap into south China’s $1 trillion dollar economy.

How else can we help you?

SelectUSA, along with our teams in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, work with investors and U.S. economic development organizations to facilitate investment into the United States. We provide information and counseling, help you connect to the right people, and serve as an ombudsman to resolve issues related to the federal regulatory system. We also create platforms, such as our upcoming Pearl River Delta Road Show, to bring investors and economic developers face to face.

If you have questions about foreign investment or if we can help you at all, visit the SelectUSA website for more information!

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Six Ways to Make Your Next Trade Show Count

April 1, 2014

Ken Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Orlando.

Our team can help you maximize export opportunities at trade shows.

Our team can help you maximize export opportunities at trade shows.

You’re walking the floor at a major trade show and, glancing to your right, you see two people seated deep in their booth checking e-mails on their phones. This closed off demeanor wastes two precious resources their company invested on this show, time and money.

To get the best possible return on investment from your next trade show, here are six simple suggestions that don’t cost much money and will attract traffic to just about any booth:

  1. Stand. Believe it or not, you seem more open to engagement if you’re standing, smiling, and looking at people as they pass.  By contrast, people are reluctant to distract you when you appear busy by sitting.
  2. Stage a conversation.  If there are two of you in your booth, make it appear that one of you is learning about your company from the other.  Believe it or not, people will look at something if someone else is looking; and for no better reason than that.  This works less effectively if you’re wearing clothing that brands you as working for the same company or if you’re exhibiting alone.
  3. Never leave your booth unattended.  If you need to go to lunch or the bathroom, unless you’re alone, there should always be someone in your booth.
  4. Raffles are better than hand-outs.  People will take candy or pens without actually engaging with you.  You can’t make connections and build a database if you don’t know who’s visiting your booth.  You’ll get a lot more traffic to your booth if you raffle something of value – maybe something like a tablet – than you would otherwise. You’ll also be “buying” a contact list for the cost of the item that you’re raffling.  For your raffle, it’s probably better to scan badges than to collect business cards because, to have their badges scanned, visitors to your booth will have to engage you.  Also, for a raffle to work, people need to know about it, so advertise at your booth, conduct targeted mailings/e-mailings, and advertise in the show guide and directory.
  5. Conduct targeted outreach BEFORE the show.   If you have a customer list, mail/e-mail your customers to remind them of your presence at the show and your booth number.  Similarly, you can purchase contact lists (from the U.S. Embassy, from private vendors) and send marketing collateral with your booth number to qualified potential buyers before the show.  And, don’t forget to mention your raffle!
  6. Advertise in the Export Interest Directory.  Not every show participates in the International Buyer Program; however, for those that do, you can arrange one-on-one meetings with the leaders of foreign buyer delegations.  If there’s a match to one of their delegates’ needs, they’ll bring their delegate to your booth to meet you.  Similarly, foreign buyers use the Export Interest Directory to find potential suppliers.  The easiest way to identify International Buyer Program shows is to contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

Remember, trade shows are an investment of both money and time. Don’t waste either. Use these six tips to maximize your investment, and be sure to call your local Export Assistance Center to learn more about how to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

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U.S. Automotive Industry Driving Exports

March 28, 2014

Eduard Roytberg is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Ontario, California. He is the leader of ITA’s Commercial Service Global Automotive Team.File photo of workers building a car.

The U.S. Commercial Service’s auto team is dedicated to increasing U.S. automotive exports and supporting American automotive manufacturers doing business around the world. The automotive industry is crucial to the American economy as one of the largest employers and manufactured goods export sectors.

We’re happy to report that 2013 was an excellent year for the industry! Here are some highlights:

It’s clear this industry is running on all cylinders! We expect continued success for American businesses in this sector, so contact your nearest Export Assistance Center if you’re ready to bring your automotive products into the global market.

Our Global Automotive Team has specialists throughout the country and at US Embassies and Consulates in 72 countries. We are ready to help your company achieve its export goals.

Be sure to follow our team on Twitter @cs_autoteam to learn more about our automotive industry initiatives, upcoming events and other updates.

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Destination: Sports! How Sporting Events like the NCAA Tournament Support U.S. Travel Exports

March 27, 2014

Ron Erdman is the Deputy Director of the International Trade Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Office.

Sporting events are a huge draw for travelers. The first competitive event for major international events like the Olympics and the World Cup is between the global cities competing to be host.

Major sports events draw visitors from all around the world and that can be a huge contributor to a region’s economic growth and development.

For tonight’s start to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Memphis, Anaheim, Indianapolis, and New York will host thousands of college basketball’s biggest fans, visiting from all around the country. Those visitors are buying tickets, purchasing meals, getting hotel rooms – all supporting these cities’ local economies.

Among those visitors will likely also be some international travelers.

This is another way that sporting events like the NCAA Tournament support export industries. Our data show that of the 51.2 million international visitors the United States hosted in 2011, nearly 8 percent of them attended a sports event while they were here. That means more than 4 million people attended U.S. sports events while visiting from overseas.

We estimate that in 2013, that number increased to 4.4 million people.

Those are huge numbers and significant contributors to U.S. exports. Recently released data show travel and tourism exports totaling a record $180.7 billion in 2013, accounting for about 8 percent of total national exports.

Those numbers matter because behind them are the jobs supported by both international and domestic travel and tourism. The industry supports 7.7 million jobs throughout the country according to the most recent data.

Travel and tourism exports are much like education exports in that they never leave U.S. borders. But since the sports tickets, food, and lodging costs are paid for from sources outside the United States, they are considered exports.

So when you watch the games this weekend, remember that even if your team is no longer alive, the 16 teams still playing are helping draw crowds and creating exports.

That’s something we should all cheer for!

Want to learn more about the Travel and Tourism industry? Check out our website for more data and subscribe to our newsletter!

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Bringing Lessons Home From Korea

March 26, 2014
SelectUSA Director Vinai Thummalapally speaks to investors in Korea about services available through the SelectUSA program.

SelectUSA Director Vinai Thummalapally speaks to investors in Korea about services available through the SelectUSA program.

Vinai Thummalapally is the Executive Director of the SelectUSA Program.

South Korea is currently the 16th largest and 14th fastest-growing source of investment in the United States.

That investment has grown rapidly – at a compound annual growth rate of 14.9 percent from 2008 to 2012. The U.S. subsidiaries of Korean companies directly employ more than 32,000 people in the United States, contributing almost $60 billion to the U.S. economy.

These firms export almost $9.7 billion worth of goods from the United States.

Those are great numbers, and we want to see them continue to grow.

To that end, I am excited to announce that our Commercial Service team in Seoul, Korea is hosting a Road Show event on Friday, May 16 – the week before an already announced Japan Road Show. The events will provide an opportunity for U.S. economic development organizations to connect with Korean companies interested in investing or increasing their investment in the United States.

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I recently returned from a trip to Seoul, Korea, where I had the pleasure of meeting with our team at the U.S. Embassy, our partners in the Government of the Republic of Korea, and investors who are interested in setting up shop in the United States. Together we traveled to different companies in Korea to get feedback and talk about their experiences working with the U.S. I also enjoyed sitting down with investors and trade associations to talk about SelectUSA and its services for helping companies expand investment in the U.S. These conversations help inform programming so that participants get the most out of events like the upcoming road shows.

While in Seoul, I joined U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim and Senior Commercial Service Officer Jim Sullivan to welcome officials from Hankook Tires and congratulate them on their announcement of the firm’s first U.S. manufacturing facility in Clarksville, Tennessee. The company is investing more than $800 million in the new plant, which is expected to create approximately 1,800 full-time jobs.

We also met with Samsung to learn more about its significant investments in the United States, including its recently announced project to build a new Silicon Valley R&D Center in Mountain View, California.

Another stop included the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), which represents more than 71,000 companies. We had the opportunity to talk with some of their members about President Obama’s expansion of SelectUSA, including investor visas and how our interagency team at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul – which includes staff from the U.S. Departments of State and Agriculture – can help them invest in the U.S.

We look forward to working with the states, cities, and regional organizations who take advantage of the opportunities at the upcoming Road Show in Korea.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

March 26, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Kim Glas is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials in the International Trade Administration.

Kim Glas is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials in the International Trade Administration.

Serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, my job is to improve the domestic and international competitiveness of the broad product range of U.S. textiles, footwear, consumer goods, metals and mining, forest products, and chemicals and plastics manufacturing sectors and industries. This position requires strong negotiation and problem-solving skills and the ability to work with a broad array of stakeholders with divergent opinions in order to find solutions on a whole host of issues.

Over the last 3 years, I have spent significant time at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to ensure opportunities under the agreement for U.S. textile and footwear producers. I coordinate within the ITA and across agencies to ensure we can deliver results for companies and the workers they employ. While the job has been challenging, it has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity. I have worked with top-notch staff across the Department and in the Administration who are driven to expanding opportunities for U.S. industries and workers.

Having worked in two Administrations and on Capitol Hill, I have always been driven by a mission to serve the American people and have been fortunate to do so throughout my career. Growing up, my parents, extended family, teachers, and mentors were incredibly supportive of me and instilled in me to work hard, serve others, and have a strong sense of self. I grew up in the close-knit community of Lockport, NY located near Buffalo during a time when many industries in the area were facing enormous economic hardships. Layoffs all too often were the front page news of the local paper. My high school experience reflected what was happening in the community – and I knew that I wanted to make it better.

When I went to college at the State University of New York at Geneseo, I thought I would serve my community by becoming a social studies teacher. The trajectory of my life changed when I took a history class with Dr. Bill Cook. As a grade conscious student, I knew taking a class with him all but assured I would not graduate at the top of my class – but I didn’t care. He brought history to life and connected it to our modern day political structure. When he ran for Congress in a campaign destined to lose, I followed him and decided I didn’t want to teach about government, I wanted to be an active participant in it. I believed in the community I grew up in and communities like it across the country and knew I wanted to serve.

The main driver of my career success has been the people I have met along the way. They are the reason I do what I do. They will continue to be my sense of purpose going forward. To understand yourself and the people around you, gives you an appreciation for those who share different perspectives or share common motivations.

I have always admired my distant cousin Amelia Earhart who pushed herself to soar above the clouds in unchartered territory and in doing so, broke the barriers of history. She once said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do.” Seize the moment, push the envelope, know yourself, and never forget where you came from or the people on whose shoulders you stand.

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March Madness Earns an A in Economics

March 24, 2014

Chris Higginbotham is a Public Affairs Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

This infographic from the International Institute of Education shows that more than 819,000 international students studied in the United States in 2013.

Institute of International Education. (2013). Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

If you’re anything like me, you spent the weekend locked in front of the television, watching the NCAA Tournament. Hearts were broken (including mine), underdogs were victorious, and former champions were sent packing.

Perhaps the best part of it all is that we were supporting the U.S. economy the entire time!

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but the NCAA Tournament, one of the pinnacle sporting and cultural events in the United States, is a tremendous supporter of several export industries.

One obvious industry the Tournament supports is education. The athletes competing in this event are students representing some of America’s great universities.

The education industry is a huge part of the American economy, supporting jobs and fostering research and innovation.

Education is also a major service export. The United States has some of the world’s best universities, hosting hundreds of thousands of foreign students. Those students pay tuition and living expenses, including room and board, transportation, books, and health insurance. Since most of those expenditures come from sources outside the United States, they are considered exports.

Commerce data show that international students contributed a record $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy, part of a record $682 billion in services exports.

The NAFSA Association of International Educators says that education exports support 313,000 jobs in the United States, a 6.2 percent increase from 2012 and a crucial contributor to our economic growth.

Here are some more key highlights about education exports from the Institute of International Education:

·         A record 819,644 international students studied in the United States in 2012-2013;

·         The top two fields of study for international students are business and engineering;

·         The University of Southern California hosts the most foreign students, at 9,840.

Outside of the classroom, you’ll also see some international students competing on the basketball court.

The standout is Kansas University’s Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian player who was a top basketball recruit last year. There’s also NC State’s Jordan Vandenberg from Australia, UCLA’s Sooren Derboghosian from Iran, and Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa from Canada, among others.

As NAFSA points out, the benefits of international students studying in the United States last a lot longer than the road to the Final Four. Foreign students bring unique perspectives into American classrooms, broadening horizons for everyone involved. The relationships formed and cultural exchanges made help build bridges across borders.

So just remember the next time you watch a game, even if your team loses, you’re helping the U.S. economy win!

For more information about the education industry and how the International Trade Administration supports it, check out our updates on the ITA blog.

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SelectUSA: Enhanced, Engaged… and in Japan!

March 20, 2014

Andrew Wylegala is the Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of the United States in Japan.

From left: SelectUSA Executive Director Vinai Thummalapally, Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari, and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy at the Investment Showcase in Tokyo. View more photos from the event on the ITA Facebook page.

From left: SelectUSA Executive Director Vinai Thummalapally, Japan Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari, and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy at the Investment Showcase in Tokyo. View more photos on the ITA Facebook page.

Japan is the second largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United States, with a total stock valued at $309.4 billion as of the end of 2012. According to our partners at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan registered its second-highest ever outbound investment level in 2012 at $122 billion, and Japanese investors chose to send 26 percent of that to American shores.

FDI isn’t just about capital: In 2011 more than 686,600 U.S. workers were employed by the U.S. subsidiaries of Japanese companies with an average wage of $78,356.

It’s clear that our investment relationship with Japan is a key contributor to the U.S. economy. That’s why our SelectUSA team and Commercial Service personnel in Japan joined U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to host an investment showcase in Tokyo.

Japan’s Minister of State for Economic & Fiscal Policy Akira Amari and Ambassador Kennedy stressed at the investment showcase that few aspects of the broad United States-Japan partnership are more mutually beneficial than investment.

Dynamism was the first key concept. Japan has resumed its role as a powerhouse in cross-border direct investment. Japanese investors also continue to believe in the opportunities offered by the U.S. market.

For example, in 2012-13, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda expanded already sizable U.S. manufacturing footprints, contributing to the renaissance in American manufacturing.

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So what’s new? A wave of investment is under way, embracing sectors from cellular communications to carbon fiber; improved tomato seeds to Kentucky bourbon; economy hotels to the limits of the Japanese and American imagination!

A testament to the success of this investment showcase is Leslie Ken Yamada, president of Japan’s Sanikleen. He spoke about his company bringing its business model to Hawaii, having made important connections in the Hawaiian market with the help of the SelectUSA team.

Osaka-based Daiwa House and Dallas-headquartered Lincoln Property Company signed a memorandum of understanding to develop $1.5 billion worth of multi-family homes during the next three years, beginning with a joint project in Ft. Worth.

Mutuality was the second theme as Minister Amari and others stressed that the benefits of cross-border direct investment are multi-directional, flowing well beyond the country of investment, in the form of access to new markets and the generation of ideas that bubble up when individuals from diverse backgrounds work side-by-side.

Ambassador Kennedy observed: “Not only do investments create growth and jobs; they create advances that benefit society as a whole.”

For example, Olympus Surgical Technologies broke ground in December for a $37 million facility in Brooklyn Park, Minn. As an R&D, design, and manufacturing operation, the improvements in non-invasive surgery that engineers from both countries will develop in Minnesota will benefit patients worldwide.

We’ll continue to work closely with our friends in Japan to promote and facilitate investment. Thanks to the Association of American State Offices, JETRO, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and the Japanese government for contributing so much to our continued partnership.

If you’re a U.S. economic development organization aiming to attract increased FDI from Japan, please contact SelectUSA. We’re organizing a Road Show, May 19-23, in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, and we’d love to have you join! Last year it sold out, so get in touch soon!

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ITA Focused on Expanding U.S. Business Opportunities in Iraq

March 19, 2014

Kevin Reichelt is an International Trade Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Iraq and Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force.

Nearly four years after the end of military operations, Iraq has become an important destination for U.S. merchandise exports. U.S. exports to Iraq topped $2 billion in 2013, and U.S. companies invested more than $1.2 billion in Iraq.

The U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue (USIBD) continues to support expanding the U.S.-Iraq commercial relationship by increasing U.S. exports and creating jobs in both countries.

Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Ken Hyatt and officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Trade convened an USIBD executive committee in Washington on March 4. Their discussion focused on increasing bilateral trade and investment in Iraq.

The USIBD was created in 2006 as an effort to integrate more American firms into the Iraq market. Now in its fourth installment, the USIBD continues to serve as an arena for open communication between U.S. and Iraq’s private sector members.

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U.S. Exporters: ITA Innovators are Here to Help!

March 14, 2014

Aileen Crowe Nandi is a Commercial Officer in San Jose California

As exporters’ needs change, we at ITA must adapt with them. The U.S. government – and our clients – faces myriad issues on a daily basis that require customized solutions. From helping a shipment of apples clear customs in South India to resolving a biotech regulatory barrier in Europe to assisting a small cloud reseller land deals in Ghana, we regularly tweak our services to assist each company with its unique set of issues. A “one-size-fits-all” technique does not apply to international trade.

To capitalize on our entrepreneurial objectives and to share and communicate even better across the Commercial Service (CS) – an organization spanning 100 domestic offices and 72 countries– we launched the Crowdsource (CS2) initiative. CS2 is designed to engage more employees at all levels by enabling them to propose and vote on ideas to change and/or improve how we help U.S. exporters. The winning ideas are then brought to senior agency leaders.

We structured CS2 as a quarterly “Pitchfest” competition, taking a cue from the dynamic venture capital industry. Colleagues are encouraged to submit short written, innovative proposals which are subsequently “crowdsourced” in a democratic voting process. The top three ideas then move on to an oral pitchfest.

The CS2 team, comprised of two International Trade Specialists (Melissa Branzburg, Boston, and Shari Stout, Peoria) and two Commercial Officers (Marianne Drain and myself), represents both the international and domestic units of our organization. Additionally, we have a cross-section of colleagues from HQ and the field (as far as Australia) to serve as “Interested Innovators” to judge the oral pitches to determine the final winner.

We began with the “B2B” theme, as it impacts the very core of how we help U.S. exporters. With fourteen B2B proposals and over 200 voters, the winning idea from the B2B pitchfest was the “Initial Market Check” (IMC), submitted by Heather Ranck in our North Dakota Export Assistance Center.

The IMC entails a fee-based service that would enable exporters to gain critical market insights for individual American companies (in the form of a short report) to determine whether to further pursue export opportunities in a given market. Though Heather had already been innovatively undertaking IMCs for her North Dakota clients, we are working with HQ to formalize the service to allow all colleagues to conduct IMCs for all exporters. Stay tuned for updates!

Our next pitchfest on “Commercial Intelligence” will take place on April 29th. What kind of commercial intelligence do YOU want from ITA? Your input will ensure that we are well positioned to facilitate your success in international markets.

With your input we can better provide the services you need to help your businesses succeed. We look forward to hearing your great ideas!

Aileen Nandi

Melissa Branzburg

Shari Stout

Marianne Drain

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