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U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue Strengthens Important Bilateral Relationship

September 23, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker co-chaired the first-ever U.S.-India Strategic and Commerce Dialogue (S&CD) this week, a brand new mechanism intended to advance President Obama and Prime Minister Modi’s shared vision of a stronger, deeper economic partnership between our two countries.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Co-Chairs First-Ever U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Co-Chairs First-Ever U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue

In launching the S&CD, both countries have injected new energy into efforts focused on improving the ease of doing business; infrastructure development; promoting innovation and entrepreneurship; and harmonizing standards and global supply chains.

Through a reinvigorated U.S.-India CEO Forum, both governments have also heard from their respective private sectors on their priorities in areas such as business climate, smart cities and infrastructure financing, supply chain integration (including cold chain), aerospace/defense, and renewable energy. Input from U.S. and Indian business leaders will continue to inform policymaking discussions as both countries work toward the leaders’ shared goal of increasing U.S.-India trade fivefold, to $500 billion annually.

As the inaugural S&CD closed on Tuesday afternoon, Secretary Pritzker noted clear signs of progress already happening between the United States and India.

For instance, on Monday, the Department of Commerce announced that Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews will lead a Smart Cities Infrastructure Business Development trade mission to India in February. On Tuesday, news reports indicated that the Indian government has struck a deal to purchase Apache and Chinook helicopters from Boeing – an agreement nearly two years in the making. And that same morning, Harvard Business School and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad discussed how they will collaborate on a cluster map that will collect data on Indian regional economies, which will help integrate Indian companies into global supply chains and help American businesses make smarter investment decisions in Indian markets.

This is only the beginning. An expanded economic partnership between the United States and India will allow both countries to create greater prosperity for workers, businesses, and communities in both nations. That is what brought government and private sector leaders together this week; that must remain the focus in the days, months, and years ahead.


Helping U.S. Businesses Become Successful in Energy Markets

September 22, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blogThis post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Andrew Bennett is a Senior International Trade Specialist and Renewable Energy Analyst for the International Trade Administration.

Last week, the third annual American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit brought together the decision makers and the change makers that are driving the development of new technologies and business opportunities in a critical and growing segment of the economy—clean energy. The Department of Commerce was proud to participate in this event, which is led by our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Energy and our private sector partners at the Council on Competitiveness.

The event highlighted the promise of America’s clean energy future, both in terms of the technologies being developed by our innovators and the energy efficiency gains being driven within our factories and businesses. All of these advances are helping us meet our environmental goals, as well as our economic goals.

As Secretary Pritzker stressed in her keynote remarks that opened day two of the summit, the growth of our clean energy manufacturing base depends not only on what we do in the United States, but also on how we capitalize on the opportunities for U.S. businesses to benefit from the massive growth of clean energy markets beyond our borders.

The United States is not alone in striving to fulfill the promise of a 21st century clean energy economy. Around the world, governments, businesses, and citizens are investing in energy infrastructure that is cleaner, more efficient, and more secure. In fact, the demand for clean energy has expanded beyond its traditional markets of North America and Europe, and is now truly global. Last year, 50 percent of the investment in renewable energy was in developing and emerging markets. And over the next five years, the cumulative cross-border trade in clean energy technologies is projected to reach $1.4 trillion.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) is working on multiple fronts to secure and capitalize this opportunity for U.S. businesses.

To start, we’re providing the market intelligence and analytic tools to help public and private sector stakeholders strategically deploy precious resources for international business development. ITA’s Top Markets Reports are a flagship in this effort, and our analysis on export growth opportunities include Top Markets Reports on critical sub-sectors to the clean energy economy including environmental technologies,renewable energy, and smart grid.

ITA is also working to ensure that global trade policies and trade agreements are as open and innovative as the technologies that are transforming global energy supplies. That’s why the Obama administration is negotiating tough, modern trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. We’re also working with the world’s major traders of environmental goods to negotiate an agreement in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to eliminate tariffs on the products that reduce carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency, and help protect and preserve environmental resources. Our goal is to expand global consumer access to clean energy and environmental solutions, while reducing the costs for the exporters and the workers who develop these products.

Additionally, ITA’s trade promotion services are working to help connect U.S. clean energy manufacturers to foreign buyers across the globe. Over the last year alone, the Department of Commerce has led six trade missions designed to develop international business partnerships for U.S. companies that provide clean and efficient energy infrastructure solutions including manufacturers and service providers of solar, wind, and other renewable energy technologies and smart grid; energy efficiency; and environmental technologies. In 2016, our work to expand the U.S. manufacturing base through export-driven growth in key markets continues with our Smart Cities Infrastructure Business Development Mission to India.

We’re also advancing our efforts to boost U.S. competitiveness in clean energy manufacturing at one of the world’s biggest stages for trade promotion—Hannover Messe in Germany. With nearly a quarter million visitors, this is the largest global trade show, and next year, the United States is a partner country. This means increased visibility and an increased commitment by the U.S. government. The U.S. pavilions at the show will be bigger than ever, and will include a focus on industries driving energy efficiency gains and environmental benefits, including industrial automation, smart manufacturing, renewable energy and smart grid technologies.

All of these activities sum up our work to grow the “demand side” of the global clean energy economy and ensure that U.S. exporters are the suppliers. Demand won’t be slowing down any time soon, so we’ll be working hard to keep up.


The U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue

September 18, 2015

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The U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) is the signature, annual forum for policy discussions between the United States Government and the Government of India. It will convene for the first time on September 22, 2015.

As an ongoing forum for policy discussions, the S&CD will serve as a key platform to ensure accountability on commitments, take advantage of the current window of opportunity, and realize the full potential of the U.S.-India commercial relationship.

Under Secretary Selig recently traveled to India in advance of the S&CD. Hear his thoughts on the upcoming dialogue.


Insight on Crafting an e-Commerce Strategy for Europe

September 16, 2015

Anna Flaaten is a Senior International Trade Specialists at the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

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

Earlier this week, ITA hosted a webinar to gain insight on crafting an e-commerce strategy for Europe. Participants included experts in the fields of supply chain management, payment services, search engine optimization, and direct on-line marketing.  Here are a few takeaways on the unique aspects of e-commerce in Europe:

  • The UK is the largest e-Commerce market for US goods and services.
  • The e-Commerce market in the EU is worth $472B USD – relatively split equally between goods and service exports.
  • Smaller countries import more than larger markets! For example 88% of Nordics shopped online last year.
  • Service providers in the logistic space that will know how to set up distribution in Europe.
  • Direct online marketing is easiest to start by creating a Google-friendly site
  • Using analytics and Search Engine Optimization is critical- with “search” it’s about telling you that the potential customer is already interested in your product.
  • Many countries also have their own search engines that are popular in those markets.
  • It’s helpful to translate keyword searches in languages for the markets your company wants to target – for example, if you’re targeting France, translate the keywords into French.
  • Credit cards are still the most popular payment alternative in both Europe and the US by a market share of approximately 40%; however, payment methods vary greatly between countries in the EU and offering multiple payment methods is helpful.
  • One of the most common reasons people drop out of the checkout process if they can’t find their preferred payment method- not localizing payment methods can result in the loss up to 50% of potential sales.
  • Regarding logistics, how e-Commerce works in the EU is very different than the US as parcel rates vary by country or even within a country
  • Varying shipping rates can be challenging for international pricing – use “mixed set up” meaning using one supply chain company for certain countries and a different one for other.
  • Non-EU countries like Norway and Switzerland have different customs documentation requirements.
  • Set up distribution where there’s the shortest lead time to consumers.
  • Although duties are uniform across the EU members, VAT taxes vary by country.

A special thanks to our speakers:

  • Jan Paul Olijslager, Sr. Manager Supply Chain Solutions, Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC)
  • Andreas Thim, U.S. Director, Klarna
  • Justin Seibert, President, Direct On-line Marketing
  • Commercial Specialist Heming Bjona

We will continue this discussion at our upcoming DGM e-Commerce Seminar October 8-9 in Dallas/Ft.Worth, Texas. You don’t want to miss it!



How Trans-Pacific Partnership Benefits U.S. Trade

September 15, 2015

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

This morning, Under Secretary Stefan Selig interviewed with Bloomberg Business on how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will benefit American businesses. “For U.S. companies to be successful, we have to engage in the global economy,” says Selig. “That is where the growth is..that’s where the customers are..that’s where the markets are. We need to give U.S. companies everything they need to compete successfully.” You can watch the full interview here.


Trade Winds—Africa: Taking the Next Step in U.S.-Africa Business Relations

September 14, 2015

Tanya Cole is the Senior U.S. Commercial Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Today in Ethiopia and in four other growing African markets, 10 U.S. companies are exploring opportunities to do business in Africa. These five simultaneous trade missions are all part of Trade Winds—Africa, the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to the continent, ultimately bringing more than 100 U.S. companies to eight growing African markets.

Ambassador to Ethiopia

Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach says Ethiopia is a leader in economic development in Africa

For the ten companies that came to Ethiopia as part of Trade Winds, we were able to connect them directly to business development opportunities here on the ground. These are promising opportunities in sectors ranging from IT security to health and beauty products.

As a commercial officer in Ethiopia, it’s easy to see why U.S. companies consider Africa a promising market. Sub-Saharan Africa is the second-fastest growing region in the world. Ethiopia’s average GDP growth during the last five years has been higher than 7 percent, and the country’s strategic location, stable security, and low corruption make it stand out. The country has shown its commitment to economic growth, and the United States is showing its commitment to support that growth.

What also makes Ethiopia an attractive market is that companies doing business here have the opportunity to make an important impact on a developing country. As H.E. Ambassador to the United States Girma Birru said in February, African leaders and consumers are ready to do business with the United States. They recognize the quality of American goods and services, and they know that American companies help develop infrastructure, create trained workforces, and focus on corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Our Commercial Service team here in Addis Ababa is excited to see how our ten attending companies will build on this mission. We are grateful for the support we received from our partners at the State Department and the Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center in making this mission a success — especially the support of Ambassador Haslach, who is welcoming the first certified Commerce trade mission since opening the new U.S. Commercial Service office in the Embassy to Ethiopia.

I am confident that all 100-plus companies attending Trade Winds—Africa will find learn some great market intelligence, make important business connections, and find the kind of inroads that can help them succeed in Africa. I look forward to the next steps in growing the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship, and to continuing to work with U.S. companies and the country of Ethiopia to develop mutual benefit.

You can follow updates about Trade Winds on Twitter using #TradeWinds15, and you can learn more about doing business in Africa at


Back-to-School Means More International Trade in Education

September 10, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog

Student in University Classroom

Student in University Classroom

Guest blog post by John Siegmund, International Trade Specialist, International Trade Administration

As the summer comes to an end, millions of students are returning to campuses all over the country.  A good portion of these students are coming from abroad. Did you know that the tuition and living expenses of foreign students make up an important services export?  In 2013 the total came to $27 billion in U.S. exports, roughly twice the amount of a decade ago.  The total number of international students has also grown steadily.

The Department of Commerce recently released the Top Markets Report on Education.  The report highlights market dynamics, trends and key challenges to studying in the United States.

About 886,000 foreign students were studying at colleges and universities in the United States in 2013/14. The top five sending countries that year were; China (274,000 students), India (101,000 students), South Korea (68,000 students), Saudi Arabia (54,000 students), and Canada (28,000 students).

The report also projects future export opportunities based on research and trends. The eight markets that offer potentially the best opportunities to increase foreign enrollments in the years ahead are Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.  Selection of these key markets, described in the report’s methodology, is based on the number of students from a given country studying in the United States, the total number studying abroad, and historical growth rates of students studying in the United States.

Enrollment of international students is important to U.S. institutions, but they face competitive challenges, notably (1) growing competition from other English-language countries primarily the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia; (2) competition from English-language programs in countries where English is not the language of the country; and (3) the perception of difficulties and delays in getting U.S. student visas.

The report also offers reasons that students choose to study abroad.  Demographics, economics, secondary school completion rates, tuition costs, household income, and employer needs all play a role.  The most popular fields of study include business and management, and the STEM fields.

Although the United States is the largest destination country for international students, the U.S. percentage share of international students has eroded over the past decade. The number of international students worldwide has increased faster than has the number of international students coming to the United States. I would encourage you to take a look at the Top Markets Report on Education to learn more about this surprising industry!


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