Author Archive

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Alabama Celebrates Export Success

March 6, 2014
Made In Alabama logo

ITA is proud to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce to support state exporters.

Robert Stackpole is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Yesterday was a big day for the State of Alabama, one that recognized a great year for state businesses and exporters.

At a ceremony at the State Capitol, Gov. Robert Bentley recognized eight Alabama companies that are setting a very high standard for Alabama companies that are competing – and succeeding – in the global marketplace. These businesses are exporting everything from audio/video equipment to machinery that helps install decorative lighting.

These exporters prove every day that Made in Alabama products are some of the most innovative, highest quality products in the world. They’re showing that exporting is possible for businesses of any size.

Engaging in the global marketplace is an excellent way for your company to increase sales, find more customers, and protect against an economic downturn.

If your business is ready to start finding and competing in new markets, the Export Alabama Alliance is here to support! Our team at the Birmingham Export Assistance Center is proud to be a part of that Alliance and to have a strategic partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce.

We are honored to have helped all eight of the businesses recognized yesterday to increase their exports, and we are ready, willing, and able to support your business going global.

You can learn more about yesterday’s celebration and the companies that were recognized on the Alabama Department of Commerce website.

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How to Avoid a Mid-life Crisis: Start a Business and Take it Global

February 27, 2014

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

Harold Cecil was in his early 40s when he decided to start his own business in Central Oregon. His initial investment: $2,000. That was back in 2008, just in time for the Great Recession.

Six years later, he and a team of five employees at Giant Loop are making world-class equipment carriers for motorcycles. The company does business in 21 countries with sales growing 20 percent per year. It has expanded overseas with the help of numerous government agencies, including Business Oregon, the Small Business Administration, and the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service.

Cecil spoke with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center about how his small company has found success in the global market.

Barry: What’s been the best sales channel for your international business?

Cecil: I’d say trade shows. One of the best is a motorcycle show in Milan, Italy, called EICMA. This was our third year exhibiting, and we have come away with distributor agreements every time. We exhibit in the U.S. Pavilion, and there we meet buyers from all over Europe and many other places. We meet them face-to-face, they can see, feel, and learn about our products; and we can learn about their needs.

Barry: How has government helped you?

Cecil: I couldn’t have done it with without them. This is my first business. I’ve been a journalist, an ad copywriter, and a marketer. I’ve never manufactured anything.

As I got started, our local Small Business Development Center helped me learn how to actually run a business. I still meet with one of the counselors every month to get advice. SBA has been helpful with a working capital loan guarantee. They came through when we couldn’t get a commercial loan from any bank.

The State of Oregon was a big help through the Business Oregon program. They helped us apply for and get financial assistance, which partly covered travel to the trade show in Italy and to one in Sweden.

The U.S. Commercial Service through the Portland Export Assistance Center connected us with Commerce Foreign Service officers and staff supporting the U.S. Pavilion in Milan. The Export Assistance Center has provided great market data and seminars on export mechanics. And the agencies work together to help small businesses like mine.

They are invaluable, top notch.

Barry: What else has made a positive difference for you?

Cecil: The U.S. Free Trade Agreements have been very helpful to us. That lower or zero duty rate makes our products attractive in those markets. Distributors tell us that our product is at the high end of the market because of our product costs and shipping. So any way you can shave costs helps offset our pricing disadvantage.

Barry: What does the future look like for Giant Loop? What are your biggest challenges?

Cecil: Everything is a challenge. That’s what makes it fun.

We’re growing. Seventy percent of the business is domestic; 30 percent is international. Strategically it’s important to have a mix of international and domestic. We’ll never abandon our international markets, no matter how much the domestic market grows.

We added a full-time employee in January, and we plan to hire more seasonal workers. I feel really good about creating jobs. This part of Oregon was hard hit by the recession.

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Energized by the Baltic Region

February 25, 2014

Matthew Murray is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe, Middle East and Africa. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Murray spoke to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia about trans-Atlantic trade.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Murray spoke to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia about trans-Atlantic trade.
(photo courtesy AmCham Estonia)

I believe in the power of trade and investment. These are key components to a strong bilateral relationship, and they have the power to strengthen important bonds between countries.

By working with the regions of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, my team and I can focus on some of the United States’ cornerstone partnerships. Even with countries that are considered small in terms of population size or territorial expanse, our commercial relationships create jobs, support development, and foster shared ideals of entrepreneurial support and innovation.

In the dynamic markets of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, there is more potential for economic and job growth than one may otherwise expect. I strongly believe that establishing synergies between U.S. and Baltic companies will forge cutting-edge business partnerships that lead to new, dynamic jobs for all countries involved.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement currently under negotiation between the United States and the European Union (EU) is a vital tool for deepening U.S. commercial ties to the Baltic region. The partnerships will create new opportunities for U.S. and Baltic companies to export their goods and services to the larger, transatlantic marketplace.

I recently traveled to Estonia and Lithuania in pursuit of input from U.S., Estonian, and Lithuanian businesses, as to how the United States and the EU should advance TTIP negotiations in 2014. To amplify the message of the September Baltic Summit here in Washington, I emphasized the critical role Baltic companies play as TTIP stakeholders.

Baltic business leaders are setting a world standard in innovation and in a start-up business culture. They are participating in the global marketplace, sharing their products and best practices, and investing in markets like the United States. We welcome their investment and their contributions to the global marketplace.

As the region advances its infrastructure to accelerate development, American businesses are ready to support this growth with unmatched global experience and expertise. Infrastructure developments will allow the region to accelerate its development.

Infrastructure developments also help attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the region. Kinze, a U.S. agricultural equipment manufacturer, is one such company that chose to invest in Lithuania as a manufacturing hub. Increased FDI is an important development in our bilateral relationship, a topic about which you can read further in this translated interview I conducted with the Lithuanian business publication, Verslo zinios.

As the U.S. commercial relationship within the Baltic region progresses, our team is standing by to support American businesses interested in or already operating in the Baltic region. Please contact Jen Levine, Commerce’s Nordic Baltic Trade Specialist in Washington to link you with commercial opportunities in the Baltic and Nordic region.

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Smoothing Over Connections for Your Cosmetics Business: Cosmoprof Trade Show

February 21, 2014

Elisa Martucci and Tony Michalski are Commercial Specialists focusing on the European cosmetics market.

Are you looking to increase sales for your cosmetics business? The U.S. cosmetics industry is increasingly finding new customers overseas, achieving $10 billion in exports in 2013. That’s a 10 percent increase from 2012.

We expect companies to continue finding success overseas — especially in the European markets.

One way you can find and capitalize on opportunities in the cosmetics industry is by joining us at Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna, Italy this April.

Our Commercial Service specialists will be at the show to help you take full advantage – finding the best possible business opportunities and qualified potential partners. We can give you information about current market situations, issues important to your business, and key opportunities for your business around the world.

With our help, you can put every minute of time spent at the event to the best possible use.

We want to help you make the best of your business! You can register for the Cosmoprof Worldwide trade show,and be sure to let us help you get the full makeover for your business!

If you have any questions about Cosmoprof or support from the Commercial Service, please feel free to contact one of us, Elisa Martucci or Tony Michalski. Or you can always contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

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ITA Helps Business Look South with Market Research

February 20, 2014

Laura Ebert is the Chile Desk Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

Before entering a new market, your business needs to be prepared. There are a number of market specific data you should understand to get an idea of your product’s potential success, including:

  • market size;
  • sophistication;
  • growth trends;
  • distribution channels; and,
  • regulatory considerations.

The problem is that market research can be time consuming and data on foreign markets can be confusing or difficult to find.

That’s where the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service comes in!

Our Commercial Service offers a number of resources to assist you and your business with conducting market research and due diligence in your target foreign market.

Our Market Research Library contains more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, written by our specialists working on the ground in each market.

Here you will also find the Country Commercial Guides, in-depth “how to do business” guides that provide a comprehensive look at the commercial environment in more than 80 overseas markets. The guides also highlight the top “best prospect” markets in each country for U.S. exporters.

As we focus on helping U.S. companies do business with our 11 free trade agreement partners in Latin America through the Look South initiative, we’ve now taken our Country Commercial Guides and made them easier to use than ever.

Want to know which Look South countries are top prospects for your product? Find out at a glance by visiting the Look South Best Prospect Sectors page and clicking on your industry. You’ll be able to see the list of most promising markets and download market snapshots for each country.

Already planning to target a specific country? Visit our Look South Countries page and choose your country from the list at the bottom of the page. Look for your industry among the best prospect sectors and download the market snapshot in just one click!

If you don’t see your industry or target market listed, don’t panic! There is very likely an opportunity for your product in more than one Look South country. Just contact your local Export Assistance Center for further information.

Other free resources include access to U.S. trade data and a series of events, webinars, and teleconferences that give you a chance to learn about new markets first hand or with on-the-ground experts. Check out the upcoming trade events and educational opportunities for Look South here.

In addition to these free public resources, your company can request more in-depth, tailored market research (for a fee) to answer your particular questions regarding the market for your product and services. We can also provide due diligence reports on potential overseas business partners (also for a fee) to investigate the capabilities, legitimacy, and financial strength of a potential overseas business partner.

Contact your local commercial service office to find out more about these services.

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Made in Rural America: Helping Appalachian Business Sell to the World

February 18, 2014

This post originally appeared on the White House blog.

Earl F. Gohl is the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government established by an act of Congress in 1965.

Forty-two percent of the Appalachian Region’s population lives in rural areas. President Obama’s Made in Rural America export and investment initiative presents a strategic opportunity to expand the region’s exporting sector, grow jobs, and ensure long-term sustainable growth. It is one more example of how the White House Rural Council works to provide economic opportunity in rural America.

Over and over, my travels throughout the region have underscored the role that expanded export markets can have in creating jobs and strengthening local economies. Yet many small businesses in Appalachia view entering the export market as a daunting challenge, something they haven’t really focused on before. The President’s proposal is specially designed to help these rural companies get in the export game by connecting them to export information and assistance. These additional resources will strengthen the capacity of Appalachian business to compete and succeed in the global economy of the 21st century.

Rural enterprises from across Appalachia have a history of demonstrating their competitive success in capturing new export opportunities. In September 2013, an Appalachia USA delegation of 18 home furnishing and wood product enterprises generated over $50 million in new export sales at the FMC international trade show in Shanghai, China. One month earlier, a 22-member mining equipment, technology, and service delegation achieved similar export success from their Appalachia USA pavilion at the Asia-Pacific International Mining Exhibition in Sydney, Australia.

First-time export ventures are a challenge but they offer the potential of significantly expanded markets. At the U.S. Commercial Service 2013 Trade Winds Business Forum in Seoul, South Korea, Appalachia USA delegates from a small manufacturing enterprise in Sistersville, West Virginia seized the opportunity to make their first sales into the global market. It is small manufacturers like this who will have greater opportunities under the President’s plan.

By creating a comprehensive strategy connecting federal resources with rural leaders and businesses to expand exports, the Made in Rural America initiative will bring new and welcome energy to Appalachia’s growing export sector. The President’s initiative will help increase the number of small manufacturers who can succeed, and it will help Appalachian businesses sell to the world.

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Valentine’s Day “Suites” Support U.S. Exports

February 14, 2014

Amy Wasserbach is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She majored in International Studies at Colorado State University.

During the Valentine’s season, people all around the world take time out of their daily routine to show affection toward each other.

We embody this special occasion through exchanging gifts, sharing a meal, or making cards, but what better way to spend the holiday than a romantic get-away with your “suite-y”?

From the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the tropical beaches of Hawaii, America has many romantic vacation spots to offer foreign visitors. More and more people around the world are taking the opportunity to share a romantic sunset or a candlelight toast in the United States. The United States hosted 4.4 million international visitors in February 2013, six percent more than the same month in 2012.

Travel and tourism exports totaled $180.7 billion in 2013, an increase of more than 9 percent when compared to 2012. This makes the United States number one globally for world travel receipts and second in international visitors.

Tourism and travel are a vital part of the US economy, making up 26 percent of service exports in 2013. The travel and tourism industry is a combination of sectors (e.g., traveler accommodations, food and beverage establishments, air transportation, etc.) that collectively supported nearly eight million American jobs last year. More than one million of those jobs were supported by international visitors alone.

Historically the largest numbers of international visitors enjoying a vacation in America came from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom in. In 2014, the number of international visitors is expected to reach 71.8 million. Your travel and tourism business could benefit from this consistently growing industry through international exports!

ITA’s National Travel and Tourism Office can help guide U.S. Travel and Tourism industry businesses to connections with their perfect international market match. Let ITA help your  travel and tourism business to sweep America’s future Valentine visitors off their feet!

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One Shining BEAM of Export Cooperation

February 14, 2014

Kentucky Mayors Greg Fischer of Louisville and Jim Gray of Lexington launched the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) in 2011. This initiative brings together the 22 counties that include and surround these cities through a strategic partnership, implementing a regional economic development approach for the state’s two largest metropolitan areas.

In 2012, the Mayors followed BEAM with the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years. This focus on exporting is a key aspect of BEAM’s broader goal to promote growth among the region’s businesses.

BEAM is unique among regional export promotion programs in that it is a collaborative effort between two leaders. The mayors’ approach exemplifies their belief that sharing economic growth rather than competing for it, is the best way to build the future for the region.

Research shows that exporting firms – whether in manufacturing or services – grow faster and can afford to pay their workers better than non-exporting firms. By promoting exports, Mayors Fischer and Gray are taking a key step to support better jobs and stronger growth in the region.

Kentucky is already a leader among states in exporting. It is one of 16 states to have broken its own merchandise export record in 2013, having exported more than $25 billion in goods during the year.

Mayors Fischer and Gray were kind enough to answer a few questions about the initiative:

ITA: What role do exports play in the economies of Louisville and Lexington, and in Kentucky overall?

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Louisville, Ky. Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor Fischer: Exports play a critical role in our regional and state economy. Exports throughout our state have surged to all-time highs. We have large companies that are robust exporters such as Ford, Lexmark, and Yum! Brands that sell into markets throughout the world.

However, 90 percent of Kentucky’s exporters are small to mid-sized firms. In total, the BEAM region produced $14.8 billion in exports in 2012, which is a five percent increase from 2011. Our regional exports perform strongly as a percentage of Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP), accounting for 16 percent of GMP in 2012.

We’re ahead of the national average, as U.S. exports in 2012 accounted for 13 percent of national Gross Domestic Product. We’re very pleased with our progress and expect more great results ahead.

ITA: One goal of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement is to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years, measured by the number of companies that expand to new foreign markets or begin selling out of the U.S for the first time. What effects will that kind of expansion have in your cities?

Mayor Gray: Kentucky is primarily made up of small businesses. Many of these companies could be expanding their sales internationally. Two-thirds of Kentucky’s companies have fewer than 20 employees, many of which could be exporting but aren’t or could be exporting to more markets.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington, Ky. Mayor Jim Gray

Our “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” export initiative focuses primarily on small business export expansion. Through this initiative a team has worked with trade partners to conduct effective outreach to a target list of smaller companies, selected for exportability, headquartered location in Kentucky and size. We want these small businesses to know about the locally available trade resources to assist their export needs.

Our team has been able to connect companies to trade education resources, market research opportunities, and information about trade missions and trade shows.

Recently, we announced a $200,000 award from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to create the BEAM-Kentucky Export Promotion program. This one-of-a-kind initiative supports small businesses by providing them financial support to access export and business development resources to expand international sales. You can read more about this work here: http://bit.ly/KyBEAM

ITA: Export expansion has been a major priority under the National Export Initiative. How do initiatives like BEAM translate into national export expansion and improvement in the overall economy?

Mayor Fischer: The National Export Initiative was an inspiration to stakeholders around the country. It set a big goal and inspired many of us to step up our game.

New research has revealed compelling evidence about exports at the metro level. We all know that metro governments are positioned in the new economy to play a pivotal role in fostering innovation, economic development and driving sustainable practices. Metro areas dominate exports at the state level, generating more than 90 percent of exports in 11 states. The BEAM region counts for 53% of the state’s total exports. Here in Kentucky, our Governor organized early following the launch of the NEI to form the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI). The KEI has brought together the state’s leading trade organizations to streamline support for companies  throughout the state. Once the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI) was formed, Mayor Gray and I worked to get added to the cohort of cities working with the Brookings Institution. The MEI afforded us new data tools and a guide on how to develop an export plan suited to our regional goals and pursuits.

All of these initiatives have helped our region and state come together to effectively address problems that have affected businesses. As organizations have worked together to make their resources maximally effective, businesses have received streamlined and accessible support.

ITA: How are other officials throughout the state helping? State officials, local leaders, etc?

Mayor Gray: By partnering with our local U.S. Commercial Service offices in Louisville and Lexington, the World Trade Center Kentucky, our state and regional chambers, along with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Small Business Development Centers, we have received great support from officials and many other organizations throughout Kentucky. Staff for the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative have worked with trade partners to host export educational seminars for chamber and economic development professionals. Outreach has been conducted to businesses around the BEAM region, an effort supported by partners at the local, state and federal levels. This is a collaborative effort and we feel the importance of working with all involved every day.

ITA: What do you say to Kentucky business leaders who aren’t currently exporting?

Mayor Fischer: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “If you’re a small business that isn’t exporting but your competitors are, they are going to eat your lunch.” We operate in a global economy. Exporting is the expectation.

In our region, while we’re known for specializations in bourbon and equine, we also export mattresses, security locks, dental equipment, disco balls and ceiling fans; and more than a few cars and home appliances.

About 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and more than 80 percent of growth is happening outside Europe or North America. If your company wants to be in business ten, twenty years from now, you’re best positioned by having sales in foreign markets. The world is waiting for you.

ITA: Mayors around the country are working hard to support local and regional economies. What’s your advice to them?

Mayor Gray: Invest in small business growth opportunities. Focus on growing what you have in your region and expanding opportunities through intentional and strategic, cross functionally aligned initiatives. Look at models for success. Learn from Mayors and other elected officials who are doing things that work around the country. Spend time with national thought leaders. And set big but realistic goals that are measurable and inclusive.

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Global Connect: Arizona Trade Finance Seminar: A Must Attend Seminar to Learn How to Access Capital and Financing for Exports

February 13, 2014

Yuki Fujiyama is a trade finance specialist with the Office of Finance and Insurance Industries in the International Trade Administration.

The Arizona Trade Finance Seminar takes place Feb. 21, 2014 at the Thunderbird School of Management.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is partnering with a number of local organizations and federal agencies in offering The Global Connect: Arizona Trade Finance Seminar at the Thunderbird School of Global Management on February 21 in Glendale, Ariz.

This seminar will be available in person and via teleconference, covering a series of important export finance subjects:

  • How to get paid from export sales;
  • Ways to approach and work with banks to enter and grow in global markets;
  • Steps to access export working capital and trade credit;
  • How to increase export sales;
  • Methods of receiving payment in foreign currencies;
  • U.S. government export assistance resources; and
  • Global business development resources for minority-owned businesses.

Global Connect: Arizona will bring together experts from both the public and private sectors to discuss resources available to U.S. exporters. This applies to businesses of any size for their financing needs.

One-on-one counseling sessions are also available to provide export finance guidance specific to the needs of your organization.

Support for Hispanic-Owned Businesses

This training is open to businesses Across the United States, there are 2.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses, according to the latest data, and more than 10 percent of Arizona businesses are Hispanic-owned.

Data also show that minority-owned businesses are twice as likely to export as other U.S. firms. As Hispanic-owned businesses in Arizona and across the country look outside U.S. borders for more sales, it will be important for them to understand their finance options.

This session will be a crucial educational tool for these business leaders, and a great augmentation to the International Trade Administration’s Spanish-language Trade Finance Guide. 

Co-Sponsors and Partners

This session is made possible through cooperation among several local, state, and federal organizations:

We hope to see you at the event, so be sure to register today! For more information, please visit the Office of Finance and Insurance Industries.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Concludes Her First Trade Mission in Mexico

February 10, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Secretary Pritzker is joined by U.S. Ambassador Wayne and Mexico's Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during her trade mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.

Secretary Pritzker is joined by U.S. Ambassador Wayne and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during her trade mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.

On Friday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded her five-day trade mission in Monterrey, the largest business center in Mexico after Mexico City.

Among her many trade mission events, Secretary Pritzker met with Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, Mayor of Monterrey, and Jose Luis Pier Castello, President of Lowe’s Mexico – one of the leading hardware chains in the world – to highlight the importance of promoting corporate social responsibility and to recognize Lowe’s and other American companies doing business in Mexico for their focus on these efforts. At a Lowe’s store in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker expressed her appreciation for employee volunteerism and acknowledged the importance of companies’ involvement in the communities in which they operate.

After Lowe’s opened its first two stores in Monterrey in 2010, the company, began looking for ways to get involved in the Monterrey community. The company has since supported local schools with donations, volunteer time, and construction expertise. Secretary Pritzker said that Lowe’s commitment to the Monterrey community reflects the values of many American companies that invest in Mexico, and that U.S. companies are committed to staying active in the region.

In addition to meeting with Mexican government officials in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker met with employees at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey as well as the Department of Commerce’s Monterrey team, thanking them for their public service and for their assistance in promoting Mexican investment in the United States.

Last week’s trade mission, which also included a visit to Mexico City, provided the 17-company business delegation with opportunities to establish relationships that will help promote their technologies and services in Mexico’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector to support job creation in both countries. The mission also allowed Secretary Pritzker to focus on two of her main priorities as Commerce Secretary – helping U.S. businesses export goods and services and encouraging investment in the U.S.

Mexico is one of the United States’ largest trading partners, and the United States will continue building and strengthening relationships with its southern neighbor.

Learn more about this trade mission, and read about other highlights of the Secretary’s trip, including her meetings with Mexican government officials, her speech at a breakfast event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Mexico-United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC), and her remarks at the Mexico Chamber for Industrial Transformation of Nuevo Leon and Cintermex Luncheon.

Secretary Pritzker’s next trade missions include trips to the Middle East from March 8-14 with stops in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and to West Africa May 18-23 with stops in Ghana and Nigeria.

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