Author Archive

h1

Secretary Pritzker Swears in New Commercial Service Officers

June 20, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Secretary Penny Pritzker swears in new commercial officers.

Secretary Penny Pritzker swears in new commercial officers.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today swore in 24 new Foreign Commercial Service Officers and one Intellectual Property Attachè at the Commerce Department. The ceremony marked an exciting beginning to these officers’ careers in overseas and domestic markets where they will work to strengthen the American economy by supporting U.S. businesses in the global marketplace.

The administration is committed to increasing U.S. exports, which support millions of jobs.  U.S. exports have set records for four consecutive years, reaching $2.3 trillion in 2013. These exports now support 11.3 million jobs in the United States. The recent launch of the NEI/NEXT campaign by Secretary Pritzker has built on the momentum of the recent growth to encourage American companies to take their business to overseas markets.

Expanding trade and investment is a central part of the Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda’ and having an overseas presence is one critical way to support U.S. businesses seeking to grow in foreign markets.

During a recent trip to Burma, Secretary Pritzker announced the Department of Commerce will expand its overseas resources to help U.S. businesses navigate additional global markets and sell their goods and services to customers all over the world. The Department’s International Trade Administration will add a total of 68 new positions and open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma. The expansion is largely focused on fast-growing markets in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  The Department of Commerce will soon add new offices in Africa and Asia in order to facilitate exports in these critical markets.

The new officers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from their prior private or public sector service. Of the more than 3,800 candidates, these 25 men and women were chosen because of their constant resourcefulness, tenacity, and of course, diplomacy.

These new Commercial Service Officers play a vital role in the enhancement of American businesses. They support U.S. businesses in overcoming trade barriers, finding global business opportunities and partners, and attracting investment to U.S. shores. These officers will be the boots on the ground, leading the charge to open new markets and helping companies compete in the global marketplace.

h1

Brazil and U.S. Share More Than Just Love of Soccer

June 19, 2014

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

Jonathan Gartenberg is an Intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Economic Analysis

Fans from many countries watch a sporting event.

World Cup fever plays a part in the expanding U.S.-Brazil commercial relationship.

The FIFA World Cup is underway and all over the world, excitement grows as fans cheer on their national teams.

Americans are no exception.

In fact the Brazilian Federal Government reported that more than 150,000 tickets were assigned to the United States – more than any other country outside Brazil.

By cheering on the U.S. team, fans are not only supporting players but contributing to the growing commercial relationship between Brazil and the United States.

Below are some highlights from Brazil’s economic and trade profile:

  • Like the United States, Brazil is mainly a service economy. In 2012, services comprised 68.5 percent of Brazil’s economy, compared to 78.6 percent of the U.S. economy in 2011.
  • Brazil is a net exporter to the world and had a 2013 trade balance of $2.5 billion. In the same year, Brazil’s exports totaled $242 billion.
  • As recipient of $44.1 billion of U.S. exports in 2013, Brazil earns a spot in the Top 10 U.S. Export Markets. Our top five exports to Brazil, are chemicals, transportation equipment, computer and electronic products, machinery (except electrical), and petroleum and coal products.
  • U.S. and Brazil mutual foreign direct investment totals more than $80 billion dollars, supporting thousands of jobs in both countries.

Even when world sporting events aren’t going on, the Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration (ITA), and other government partners work hard to further develop the U.S.-Brazil commercial relationship. ITA maintains five offices around the country, and our commercial specialists connect U.S. companies to qualified partners and promising business opportunities.

You can learn more about the work ITA is doing in Brazil at http://www.export.gov/brazil, or follow our Brazil team on Twitter at @Export2Brazil.

Stay tuned for more economic profiles on the countries competing in the World Cup!

 

*Except where noted, all figures are from Trade Policy Information System.

h1

Study in the States, Inshallah

June 19, 2014

Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center and Senior Commercial Officer Dao Le of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait produced the “Study in the States” video series.

Faris al-Obaid is one Kuwaiti citizen featured in the video series who enjoyed his experience as a student in the United States.

Faris al-Obaid is one Kuwaiti citizen who enjoyed his experience as a student in the United States. You can see his story, and the story of other citizens, courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait.

Every year thousands of international students travel to America to pursue degrees at our world-class colleges and universities. In fact, educating international students represents a huge chunk of our annual service exports.

Not only do students gain valuable experience studying abroad, but they often return to the United States after graduating and bring family members and friends who help stimulate the travel and tourism industry. So, it’s no wonder then that the U.S. government works hard to recruit more students, especially because there is a lot of competition from countries that are also popular destinations for students, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

To remain competitive, the Departments of State and Commerce teamed up with the embassy in Kuwait City to produce short video spots aimed at Kuwaiti high school students to highlight the benefits of studying abroad in America.

The videos address some common beliefs Kuwaitis have when they think about studying abroad – commonly that the process of applying for a visa is overly burdensome or that it’s difficult to fit in in the United States. The spots are designed to assure young students that these beliefs are untrue.

The videos feature Kuwaiti citizens who graduated from U.S. schools, and now enjoy rewarding careers, which they attribute to their time studying in the United States.

The first group of videos includes speakers such as a senior advisor to the Kuwait government, the regional sales manager for Microsoft, and a high school English language teacher. Some key points they discuss are that:

  • The visa application process is not discriminatory.
  • There are important deadlines the applicants need to adhere by.
  • Americans are welcoming to foreign students and universities are accepting to the different culture these students bring with them. For example, often colleges offer prayer rooms and halal food for Muslim students
  • Studying abroad in America is extremely important in creating an independent, creative, and self-assured student.

Through this program, we hope that international students will feel more comfortable applying to American study abroad programs and at the end of the day be better prepared for their quest to “Study in the States, Inshallah (if God wills it).”

 

h1

4 Ways Understanding Data Can Inform Your Export Strategy

June 18, 2014

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

Kenneth R. Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center.

Relying on export data can make your international business ventures more profitable.

Understanding the facts behind export data can make your international business ventures more profitable.

Numbers can be misleading, especially when they’re used as a proxy for quality thought in decision making.

Now, let’s be clear, here. When I say that numbers can be misleading, I’m assuming that you’re looking at an X and a Y axis with data points and no text except that which is necessary to label the graph. Alternatively, you’re looking at 10 numbers: five years and five corresponding dollar amounts or volumes. That’s where a lot of U.S. exporters begin their market research; and, if that’s where their research ends, that’s a problem.

Potential exporters need to look behind the data points on the graph by asking some important questions:

  • What happened before the trend?
  • What happened after the trend?
  • What caused the trend?
  • Can you compete (i.e., price, quality, terms of sale, features, post-sales support)?

Here’s a hypothetical: Imagine for a moment that you sell building products and the data indicate a 5-year growth trend in Timbuktoo for exactly what you sell. Assume, too, that the data are two years out of date and that you don’t follow soccer. Little did you know that Timbuktoo hosted the World Cup two years ago and that, if you had more recent data, you’d see a drop in demand for building products once the stadium, exercise buildings, dormitories, and tourism infrastructure had been completed.

I should also mention that all the best relationships were probably formed well before construction started. Should you spend much time exploring the Timbuktoo market? Based on what little we know about your company and Timbuktoo from this example, there’s nothing exceptional about Timbuktoo but you wouldn’t know that from statistics alone.

So, what’s a company with limited resources supposed to do to identify potential export markets? Here are a few ideas:

  • Use raw data only as a starting point. TradeStates Express and the UN Comtrade Database are two great online sites where you can find raw data and begin your researching process.
  • Use reports to improve understanding. General reports and information about export opportunities can be found at the Market Research Library.
  • Consult “people in the know” to challenge assumptions. ITA offers business counseling and can provide the inside scoop for companies looking to export. U.S. and foreign trade shows are also a great resource for businesses who want to learn more about the exporting opportunities available to them. The District Export Council can also be a source of information and counsel to those who need.
  • Visit the Market. The U.S. Department of Commerce, World Trade Centers, state and local Economic Development Organizations, and chambers of commerce organize trade missions and can facilitate your visit to the market to make contacts for future deals. Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center to get more information.

In addition to your local U.S. Export Assistance Center, more info about government-wide services and resources for exporting are available at www.export.gov.

h1

How to Get Paid for Your Aerospace Exports

June 17, 2014

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

Fred Elliot is a Trade Specialist with the Aerospace Team at the International Trade Administration.

Photo of an airplane engine.Have you ever wondered if you should extend credit to your overseas customers in the same way you do your national customers? Or whether your banking relationships are solid enough to allow this type of credit?

Now’s the time to start getting some answers. Register now for the July 24th Trade Finance Webinar for U.S. Aerospace Exporters and gain expert insight about topics such as:

  • Dos and don’ts of export finance;
  • Methods of payment from overseas customers;
  • How the Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Administration (SBA) can help finance aerospace exports, and;
  • Ways the U.S. Department of Commerce is helping aerospace manufacturers learn about export opportunities and how to take advantage of them.

Companies in southern Ohio are welcome to participate in-person in Cincinnati, where you can meet one-on-one with finance experts from the Export-Import Bank, SBA, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, and PNC Bank, who can answer any questions you may have.

Both webinar and in-person attendees will leave this event better prepared to succeed in global business.

You can register or find more details online, or contact Howard Thompson of the Ohio Aerospace Institute at (440)-962-3237.

h1

Keeping the United States on Top of Manufacturing Innovation

June 9, 2014
A manufacturing worker works on an automobile engine.

The Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Council wants the United States to remain a manufacturing leader.

Michael Laszkiewicz is the Chair of the Manufacturing Council. He is the Vice President and General Manager of Rockwell Automation.

I serve as chair of the Manufacturing Council, which advises Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on the manufacturing industry. The Council is composed of representatives from large and small manufacturers from across the United States.

Our objective is to identify and recommend ways the U.S. government can respond to the challenges facing U.S. manufacturers to ensure our competitiveness at home and abroad.

At our most recent meeting, the Council adopted three letters of recommendation focused on workforce development best practices; a national campaign to address the misperceptions around manufacturing careers; and a shale gas study to inform liquid natural gas export policy decisions, and opportunities in manufacturing, innovation, and research and development.

We believe these recommendations will better position the United States as a leader not just in manufacturing productivity, but in manufacturing and science innovation. Having the right technology, the right workforce, and the appropriate level of respect for the manufacturing industry is crucial to protecting U.S. jobs and the long-term health of the economy.

Below is a summary of our recommendations.  For more information, you can read the Council’s full recommendations at: http://trade.gov/manufacturingcouncil/.

Recommendations for Manufacturing Innovation, Research and Development:

  • Designate federal manufacturing innovation programs as an Interagency Science and Technology Initiative.
  • The Administration strengthens the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and the role of the national labs.

Recommendations to Improve Workforce Development and the Public Perception of Manufacturing:

  • Develop a national manufacturing perceptions campaign to reset America’s manufacturing mindset.
  • Realign Workforce development programs for Advanced Production Technologies.

Recommendation for Manufacturing Energy Policy: 

  • Lead a study evaluating the implications of natural gas exports on jobs and economic growth.
h1

Burma: An Old Civilization Opens to New Ideas

June 9, 2014

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma is opening up as a nation and an economy after decades of isolation. As the nation develops, there are numerous opportunities for U.S. companies to support the nation as it grows, modernizes, and brings in new products and services.

Commerce Secretary Pritzker completed a commercial diplomacy trip to Burma and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council to solidify the commercial relationship between the United States and the region.

The International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service is also opening an office in Rangoon to support U.S. businesses looking for opportunities in this new market. Our staff will help companies understand market trends, navigate Burmese regulations, and find qualified business partners.

Commercial Officer Mike McGee is based in Thailand, but has worked with companies doing business in Burma for years. He spoke about the U.S.-Burma commercial relationship and path forward with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: You commute regularly between Bangkok and Rangoon. Since we spoke a year ago about the easing of sanctions and the opening of the country to U.S. investment, in what ways have things changed?

McGee: Burma still has a wealth of need. After more than 50 years of stagnation and isolation, the country and its people need just about everything—from consumer goods to housing to a functioning electrical grid. So there is a huge opportunity, and there’s almost no sector that does not have tremendous need for bringing in new companies and products.

Barry: There is great internal and external pressure to open up more and to reform. How’s the government doing?

McGee: It depends on who you ask. I think it’s accurate to say that a lot of progress has been made in a short time, but much more needs to be done. We feel strongly that there can be a commercial connection to further recognition of human rights, and that will be a key focus of our work here going forward.

U.S. companies that are on the ground now fully support this approach. They are not here to extract and leave. They want to help the Burmese prosper, be free, and contribute to the well-being of the entire region. We are in this for the long haul, and much patience and engagement on every level is needed.

Barry: How do political and business leaders in Burma view the United States?

McGee: Very positively. We hear over and over again how the United States is the “Gold Standard” for just about everything.

In the area of energy production, especially electrical, the government invites greater participation by the U.S. private sector. They’re also interested in our LNG and wind power technology. Some earlier energy contracts have gone to UK and Chinese companies, but in future contracting rounds I think we’ll see much more U.S. participation.

Barry: U.S. economic sanctions have eased but not disappeared.

McGee: That’s true. If the reforms backslide or don’t continue forward, there needs to be consequences. The government is in uncharted waters, and there is much that we don’t understand about its workings.

That said, the United States is engaging with the Burmese on a variety of fronts. The U.S. Agency for International Development has programs in economic development and creating a civil society. The Peace Corps is setting up shop. Treasury and Agriculture people are here. The U.S. Commercial Service will open an office soon to help U.S. businesses spot opportunities and find buyers.

Barry: Burma is not a rich country, and “grinding” is an apt word to describe the poverty in the countryside where most Burmese live.

McGee: It’s not rich, yet. Burma is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, so it’s very difficult to try to introduce new technologies and new programs, partly because of the lack of a regulatory infrastructure, a legal infrastructure in place, but also just the poverty that exists.

The good news is that this is in many ways, a very wealthy country. It is very rich in resources and will have huge bearing for many years in the Southeast Asia and East Asia Pacific.

Barry: It’s a pretty exciting prospect for U.S. companies to get in on the ground floor.

McGee: Yes. What we have been largely advising is that companies find distributors and begin to get their products into the country. We can help, and will be even more helpful when the Commercial Service office opens in the U.S. Embassy later this year.

Barry: How do you help U.S. companies find partners?

McGee: We help with the due diligence process because there still is a fairly sizeable list of people who are prohibited for us to do business with. We offer a service called International Company Profile in which we make sure that their intended partners are the best choice in every sense of the phrase.

Increasingly, there are traders who are looking for the best businesspeople with the best price on the products the people need and want in the country. One of the things that I’ve been very surprised at is how vibrant the commercial environment is despite all of the prohibitions, despite all of the obstacles.

The Burmese are very resourceful, and they are very kind and friendly people.

h1

Rebuilding, Opportunity, Challenges in Philippines

June 6, 2014

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

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

Developing countries have plenty of difficult tasks to overcome while modernizing. The Philippines was a special case, as a 2013 typhoon brought destruction and tragedy to the islands.

But some good news has returned to a population inching towards the 100 million mark.

For one thing, GDP growth is at 7.2 percent, among the highest growth rates in Asia. That’s expected to continue, fueled in large measure by repairing damage from the deadly storm. Sound macroeconomic policies under President Aquino’s administration have been helpful, and robust growth is expected to continue.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited this nation with a delegation of U.S. business executives to discuss ways the United States can support rebuilding and growth in the Philippines, and how to advance the U.S-Filipino commercial relationship.

“This is a young, growing, vibrant market,” said Senior Commercial Officer Jim McCarthy, who hosted Secretary Pritzker on her visit.

He points out that the Philippines is the 12th most populous and fourth-largest English-speaking country in the world. “The people here think well and favorably of Americans and American products.”

With a median age of 23, this market holds plenty of future opportunity for U.S. businesses.

In particular, opportunities abound for U.S. exporters in aviation, security, defense, franchising, energy, infrastructure, franchising, IT, just to name a few.

For all the upside, said McCarthy, “it’s important to remember the Philippines is a work in progress.”

Filipinos are working to improve transparency and eliminate corruption in the market. Improvements in the nation’s Ease of Doing Business rankings led to an increase in the country’s investment rankings from all three major debt-rating agencies.

Other challenges persist. With high economic growth and a rising population come strains on infrastructure, including power generation, roads, airports, and ports. Government procurement requires patience and determination.

McCarthy believes that U.S. Government services available in the country lower risks and increase the success rate for U.S. companies.

The Department of Commerce, through its U.S. Commercial Service in Manila, organized five U.S. trade missions last year, the first such missions in several years. Delegations came from the states of Utah and Iowa, and from sectors such as energy and education. In addition, the multi-sectoral Trade Winds mission came to the Philippines in 2013. Three more delegations will visit the country later this year and include franchising, medical equipment, and a mission from the State of Mississippi.

“The increased interest in our services shows dramatically more interest in the export opportunities in the Philippines,” McCarthy said. “We urge U.S. companies to take their first or a second look at the country.”

h1

Understanding Business Opportunities in Vietnam

June 3, 2014

Peggy Keshishian is the Acting Senior Commercial Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Foreign Commercial Service Team in Vietnam.

Secretary Pritzker met with leaders from the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

Secretary Pritzker met with leaders from the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

It was an honor to host Commerce Secretary Pritzker here in Vietnam. She and the visiting delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council are absolutely right to prioritize the Vietnam market and their visit to the country will do nothing but help solidify a promising commercial relationship.

Here’s what I know about Vietnam: Despite some potential pitfalls, it is a hotbed of opportunity for U.S. businesses.

There are two important reasons Vietnam is a promising market:

  1. The country is modernizing, meaning there are numerous needs for infrastructure development. Improvements of transportation systems — including subways, highways, and airports — not only mean opportunities for U.S. firms, but also an improved business environment in the country.
  2. The population is also young; 70 percent of Vietnamese citizens are under 40 years old. That means there is tremendous opportunity for developing brand loyalty among consumers. Vietnamese citizens recognize the quality of U.S. products, and incomes in the country are rising. That helps create a promising environment for U.S. goods and services.

That said, it’s important to recognize there are some risks in the Vietnamese market.

Much of the money being injected into the economy comes from foreign sources, and is often provided by nations that expect their companies to receive a leg-up when it comes to competing for state contracts. You need to aware of how projects are financed so that you don’t end up spinning your wheels competing for a contract your business is unlikely to win.

This is something Secretary Pritzker addressed in several meetings with Vietnamese leaders, and I believe the country is taking important steps to increase transparency and fairness.

Our Foreign Commercial Service team works hard to make sure any American company looking to enter this market knows how to succeed. We work with our Commercial Service colleagues in the United States to support U.S. businesses with services like market research, finding the most qualified local partners, and discovering the best opportunities available.

We’ll remain here on the ground, continuing to support U.S. businesses and building off the success of the Secretary’s visit.

If you’re interested in opportunities in Vietnam – or in any other market – you should contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to get started.

h1

Celebrating International Trade in Maryland

June 3, 2014
John Malone of WTS International accepts an Export Achievement Award from Jolanta Coffey of the Export Assistance Center in Baltimore, Md.

John Malone of WTS International accepts an Export Achievement Award from Jolanta Coffey of the Export Assistance Center in Baltimore, Md.

Jack McCutcheon and Paul Matino Support Maryland Businesses at the Baltimore Export Assistance Center.

International exporting can seem daunting to many large and small businesses because they are unsure how to successfully take advantage of opportunities abroad.

Last week, at the 2nd Annual Celebration of International Trade, speakers provided veteran insight about the realities of doing business beyond the borders of the United States. The celebration was in honor of International Trade Month and brought together ambitious Maryland businesses for the chance to learn more about growing their companies.

The celebration provided information and discussions on international financial considerations, risk management, logistics, and legal concerns of international exporting. Dominick Murray, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, stressed the fact that currently less than 10 percent of Maryland companies participate in exporting.

Laura Lane, President of Global Public Affairs for UPS, noted that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., and that optimizing international commerce through the establishment of modern and effective free-trade agreements will be critical for the continued strength of the U.S. economy.

Between the educational seminars, the annual award ceremony honored an exemplary exporter in the DC-Maryland region, John Malone, who is the General Counsel and Vice President of Compliance and Quality Assurance at WTS International. WTS was this year’s recipient of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Achievement Award, and also also was recognized by Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office.

Maryland District Export Council Members Carl Livesay and Maryjane Norris were also presented with awards recognizing their contributions to business.

Many of the celebration’s speakers noted that succeeding in foreign markets can be easier than it seems. With the right information, proper planning, and assistance from the state, doing business abroad can be both a great contribution to the bottom line, and good reason to return for the 3rd Annual Celebration of International Trade next year.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 392 other followers