Author Archive


Collaboration and Awareness Key to Local Minority Business Success

September 9, 2015

Antwaun Griffin is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Operations.

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MMBA Power Luncheon

Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Operations delivers keynote at MMBA Power Luncheon.

Last week, I, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and my esteemed colleague Joann J. Hill, Chief, Office of Business Development for the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, participated in the Mississippi Minority Business Alliance Power Luncheon in Jackson, Mississippi. I was honored to deliver keynote remarks at the luncheon hosted by the Mississippi Minority Business Alliance, Inc. (MMBA) to promote international trade and economic development in Mississippi by providing information on business opportunities for individuals and businesses, including minority and women-owned companies, major corporations and institutions.

In Washington, DC, relatively far from Jackson, I lead the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) U.S. Commercial Service domestic network of more than 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs). I frequently visit our offices and the organizations our USEACs partner with to help U.S. businesses begin exporting or export to more markets overseas. My part of the economic development pie is only exports; however, the Department of Commerce as a whole touches numerous aspects of economic development. Among many other resources — like the National Weather Service, which is always an interesting thing to point out — Department of Commerce bureaus offer trade counseling, technical programs, regional planning, and a variety of other resources that benefit U.S. businesses.

Within Commerce, my peers like Joann Hill collaborate across the country with other federal, state, local and private organizations similar to MMBA. These are critical relationships because the more robust, collaborative, and widespread they are – as in Jackson – the more of a synergy they create.

Across the country, organizations like MMBA that work to create or expand mutually beneficial relationships between women- and minority-owned businesses, suppliers and service organizations, are critical to minority businesses’ success. The reality is that minority businesses are more likely to export than other businesses. It is also true that we have seen a spike in minority women entrepreneurship.

There are numerous reasons why minority businesses should export more. Minority-owned exporting firms are typically larger than their non-exporting minority-owned counterparts. In fact, average annual receipts for minority exporting firms were $7.4 million as compared to $141,776 for minority-owned non-exporting firms in the most recent data available.

For all U.S. companies, the news on exporting is good. In July, the Department of Commerce highlighted data about the export totals achieved in U.S. metropolitan areas in 2014, which helped our country reach a national record of $2.34 trillion in exports for the year. In 2013, companies that exported to one market averaged just over $400,000 each in export sales, while companies that exported to 2-4 markets that year averaged more than triple that value.

Presently, exports support an estimated 11.7 million U.S. jobs, up 1.6 million since 2009. On average, export-related jobs pay up to 18 percent more than non-export related positions.

So, beyond the terrific group of small, medium, and large businesses; service providers; trade organizations; and fellow government organizations I spoke to last week, I will continue my trek around the country, touting the immense benefits of exporting. But I leave minority businesses with this one piece of advice: if you run a small shop, you know that keeping it going takes two things: time and money.

If you are going to be serious about pursuing global markets, you have to invest the time and be prepared to invest capital as well. You can’t do this all alone, which is why we are here to help. Be sure to take advantage of the numerous resources available from the Department of Commerce, your state and local economic development organizations (including places like MMBA), and forge ahead with confidence!

Note: Following the luncheon, DAS Griffin spoke with Mississippi Public Broadcasting. To listen to the interview, visit


CONEXPO Latin America: “Loads” of Opportunity for the Construction and Mining Business

September 8, 2015

Erin Aucar recently completed an internship at the International Trade Administration’s Office of the Western Hemisphere. 

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

The owners and organizers of CONEXPO, the world-renowned construction equipment trade show, are bringing 100 years of experience to Latin America! From October 21-24, 2015, in the city of Santiago, Chile, CONEXPO Latin America will bring together international experts, the latest equipment, and groundbreaking (literally) technologies. The event allows manufacturers and buyers to build their international presence and show new products, technology, and future developments for the region.

Market Development Cooperator Program grant winner, the Small Business Development Center at Duquesne University, is helping U.S. companies take advantage of this exciting opportunity with assistance through the IMPACT Project. The IMPACT Project is part of a four-year MDCP grant to designed to increase trade with Pacific Alliance countries (Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile) while sustaining economic growth, supporting American jobs, and strengthening the global competitiveness of U.S. firms. While shared booth space through the IMPACT Project is already sold out, there are three other ways your company can still participate:

  1. Send a Catalogue. The IMPACT Project can accept catalogues from 7 more companies to show in the booth. With this option the company does not need to travel to the country, just provide the catalogue or company literature. Cost is $300 and includes up to two pages of Spanish language translation. Contact Dr. Mary McKinney at Deadline is September 21st, 2015.
  2. Secure your own booth space at the show. Contact Kathy Arnold of Association of Equipment Manufacturers at for more information.
  3. Walk the show. If you’d like to network in Chile, but aren’t ready to set up your own booth display, entry to the show is only $10 and no-preregistration is required. If you do make the trip down to Chile, be sure to stop by the IMPACT booth! ITA’s Commercial Service team from Chile will be there to answer questions and provide assistance.

CONEXPO Latin America’s host country, Chile, is a Pacific Alliance member whose economic growth has averaged over 5% a year for the last 20 years. A mining and exporting powerhouse, Chile is investing in infrastructure for its ports, mining, and construction industries. The show promises to attract qualified buyers from all over Latin America. Projected growth of the construction industry in the region is $47.4 billion between 2013 and 2022. The Pacific Alliance countries, including Chile, tend to favor U.S. products for their high quality and technological innovation. This advantage, along with the protections and benefits afforded to U.S. companies through our Free Trade Agreements with all four Alliance members, makes CONEXPO Latin America a prime opportunity to develop your business in the region. Indeed, there are ‘loads” of reasons to participate on CONEXPO Latin America!


Fox School of Business Partnering up for Trade Winds—Africa

September 3, 2015

This is a guest blog. Rebecca Geffner is Director of International and Executive Programs and the Center for International Business Education and Research at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, a Marketing Partner for Trade Winds—Africa. 

 Rebecca Geffner

Rebecca Geffner is a Director at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, a Marketing Partner for Trade Winds—Africa.

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

Temple University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) focuses on increasing U.S. competitiveness overseas.  In order to fulfill this mandate, we continue to support programming and other efforts that encourage local business to trade and amplify their potential in global markets.

With existing relationships already in place in Ghana and Morocco, we at Temple CIBER and the Fox School of Business recognize the importance of Africa in the global arena and know that the opportunities for business around the continent are plenty as Africa’s “emergence” continues to be front and center.

We will be participating in Trade Winds—Africa this year as a marketing partner in order to encourage and support our business community in their efforts to expand their trading partnerships with African businesses.

I am looking forward to meeting all of the participants at the conference in South Africa to exchange ideas and also to bring home takeaways for our business students on the significance of the U.S.’s increasing presence in Africa.

At Fox, we are committed to providing a student-centered education and professional development relevant to today’s digital, global economy.  As future business leaders, our students must understand the needs, the opportunities and the climate of business in the region and truly gain a perspective on how some of the fastest growing economies in the world are centered in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I am also excited to meet new university partners and representatives from the embassies to discuss opportunities to further cross cultural dialogue and exchange programs and projects for our business students.

Temple CIBER and the Fox School are delighted to be working with our longstanding partners at the U.S. Commercial Service on this event and hope to see many businesses within the Philadelphia region participate in this important event.

Safe travels and see you in Johannesburg!


Virginia’s Engagement in the Global Marketplace

September 2, 2015

This is a guest blog by Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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

Virginia’s International Trade Success

The Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL)

Members of the The Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL)

The Commonwealth of Virginia was founded as a business venture more than 400 years ago by the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock company formed both to bring profits to its shareholders and establish an English colony in the New World.  Since its founding, the Commonwealth has remained a journey of economic opportunity, a great place to launch new businesses and grow existing ones.

About 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power resides outside of America.  Thus, helping Virginia businesses sell their goods and services abroad is one of Virginia’s most effective business expansion strategies.

In 2014, Virginia exported goods and services valued at more than $36 billion, including $15.1 billion in manufactured goods, $16.9 billion in services, $3 billion in agriculture products, and more than $1 billion in mineral fuels.   These exports went to 212 destinations throughout the world. Virginia company exports support over 250,000 jobs in Virginia.

Ten years ago, in the mountains of Rocky Gap, Virginia, American Mine Research (AMR) decided it was time to reinvigorate its international sales efforts. AMR provides monitoring and control products for the mining industry, and the company recognized the opportunity for its products to be sold around the world.

AMR contacted the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), which provides export assistance to companies across Virginia. With VEDP’s assistance, AMR established distributorships in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. Thanks to AMR’s commitment to growing international sales and Virginia’s export assistance programs, the company is growing from every angle.

New Trade Alliance Helps Virginia Companies Expand International Sales

Building on the success stories of hundreds of Virginia exporters like AMR, Governor McAuliffe announced in July 2015 the creation of a new initiative to increase international trade in Virginia. The Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL) expands Virginia’s nationally recognized international trade program through formal partnerships with Virginia’s industry associations and public universities to serve their member companies as they expand international sales. During its first five years, VITAL seeks to grow Virginia exports by $1.6 billion and create 14,000 trade-supported jobs. By exponentially accelerating Virginia companies’ engagement with the global economy, VITAL will create stronger, more resilient businesses and more jobs for Virginians.

The VITAL initiative demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to helping existing Virginia businesses succeed in the international marketplace, which makes our economy even stronger. The Governor has made the program a priority and reallocated $1 million toward the initiative through flexibility granted to him in the state budget.

VITAL is managed by VEDP and comprised of 13 partner organizations, including industry associations and public universities.  VITAL will build upon Virginia’s proven export assistance programs, including tailored market research, face-to-face meetings with qualified partners overseas, and VEDP’s award-winning Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program.

For more information, visit


HANNOVER MESSE 2016: One Place to Showcase the Many Reasons Behind U.S. Global Business Leadership

September 1, 2015

Antwaun Griffin is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Operations.

There’s no one reason to explain why global consumers actively seek out U.S. goods and services, and no single explanation why global investors call the United States the best place in the world to invest.

Select USA

Hannover Messe is April 25-29 in Germany. Join leading industry experts & witness innovative technologies from across the globe.

A variety of factors keep American companies at the forefront of innovation, on top of advanced manufacturing, research, technology, and education. A stable currency, an educated workforce, and an enormous consumer base – among other factors – maintain our top investment climate.

And while there’s no one reason to explain why the United States leads the way in these areas, there is one place American companies and economic development organizations (EDOs) can show our leadership: HANNOVER MESSE 2016.

Partner Country USA: An Unequaled Advantage for Companies
and EDOs

Global businesses and learn-hannover_originalinvestors have recognized HANNOVER MESSE as a top trade and investment show for decades, but with the United States as the event Partner Country for the first time in history, there is more opportunity for U.S. companies, EDOs, and the nation as a whole to showcase itself as the global business leader.

I want to invite you to be a part of it, joining HANNOVER MESSE as an exhibitor in a U.S. Pavilion.Companies and EDOs that participate as U.S. exhibitors will find unequaled advantage by participating in the U.S. Pavilions:

  • Connect directly to more than 200,000 attendees, including global investors, buyers, distributors, resellers, and members of the business media.
  • Reach a global audience that comes from more than 70 countries.
  • Network with more than 100 business delegations that come to the event ready to make business deals.
  • Connect across industry sectors from energy, industrial automation, digital factory, industrial supply, and research technology.
  • Take advantage of support from the U.S. Commercial Service and SelectUSA including personalized, 1-on-1 counseling tailored to your needs.

It is rare that any company or EDO would get the opportunity to exhibit products, services or investment opportunities to such a large audience, and with the added exposure from the U.S. Pavilion, this event is a can’t-miss opportunity.

I hope you’ll add HANNOVER MESSE to your global strategy in 2016, and please feel free to contact us with questions at


Katrina 10: Commerce Commemorates 10th Anniversary by Promoting Economic Development and International Trade In Delta Region | Department of Commerce

August 31, 2015
During a panel discussion titled “A Regional Conversation on International Trade and Economic Development,” EDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Matt Erskine and ITA’s U.S. Export Assistance (USEAC) Director Greg Thompson joined DRA Chairman Chris Masingill, Mayor of Gretna, Louisiana Belinda Constant, as well as representatives from International Commerce and the Port of New Orleans to discuss how economic development efforts can spur international trade.

During a panel discussion titled “A Regional Conversation on International Trade and Economic Development,” EDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Matt Erskine and ITA’s U.S. Export Assistance (USEAC) Director Greg Thompson joined DRA Chairman Chris Masingill, Mayor of Gretna, Louisiana Belinda Constant, as well as representatives from International Commerce and the Port of New Orleans to discuss how economic development efforts can spur international trade.

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.  More than 1,200 people died tragically, and property damage is estimated to have been more than $108 billion. In the ten years since the flood waters subsided, the people of the Gulf Region have demonstrated incredible resiliency and a strong will to restore the area to the vibrant, bustling community it was before the storms hit. That meant not only repairing the physical damage left by the storm, but working to repair the economic havoc the storm wreaked. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) are proud to be partners in those efforts.

Over the last decade, EDA has invested more than $32 million, and in the immediate aftermath of the storm, invested nearly $10 million in seven separate projects throughout the region, including supporting strategic capacity rebuilding and counseling for affected small business owners. More than 40 ITA Commercial Service employees volunteered to help in the Gulf immediately following the storm, turning a Trade Information Center into a call center for affected businesses. The volunteers worked proactively with state and local officials to develop export seminars, trade missions, and other business promotion programs.

Both ITA and EDA have continued to support efforts in the Gulf during the past decade. EDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Matt Erskine and ITA’s U.S. Export Assistance (USEAC) Director Greg Thompson participated in a series of events coordinated by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) to discuss ways to promote trade and bolster economic resiliency. During a panel discussion titled“A Regional Conversation on International Trade and Economic Development,” Erskine and Thompson joined DRA Chairman Chris Masingill, Mayor of Gretna, Louisiana Belinda Constant, as well as representatives from International Commerce and the Port of New Orleans to discuss how economic development efforts can spur international trade.

DAS Erskine also took the opportunity to announce several grants and a new partnership with DRA to promote resiliency in the region. EDA made four awards, totaling $2.1 million dollars for a variety of projects that support entrepreneurship, promote trade and investment, and enhance emergency and disaster preparedness. EDA’s new partnership with DRA will result in a series of disaster planning and resiliency training programs for public officials and practitioners in the Delta region.

New Orleans and the entire Gulf Region are committed to not just rebuilding their great cities, but making it better and stronger. ITA, EDA, and the entire Department of Commerce have been there as a partner and resource for the last decade and will continue to support the region for decades to come.


Cloud Computing Exports Drive Growth at Home and Abroad

August 27, 2015

Brian Larkin is a Senior Policy Advisor in ITA’s Office of Digital Services Industries.

Cloud computing, which allows companies of all sizes to easily and inexpensively access computing resources, has become a key enabling tool for firms in many global markets. It should therefore come as no surprise that corporate cloud spending may reach $191 billion by 2020, more than triple the 2013 total, according to Forester Research. U.S. providers have leveraged technological expertise, innovative approaches, first-mover advantages, and other strengths to earn leading international positions in the delivery of cloud services. While they are sure to benefit from growing demand, these trendsetting firms still face challenges in some critical markets.

The 2015 Top Markets Report on Cloud Computing explores this global landscape. International Trade Administration (ITA) policy experts and embassy staff contributed to the report, which features profiles of countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, as well as an overall ranking.

All but a few of the world’s top enterprise cloud providers are based in the United States. These firms may specialize in bits and bytes instead of the physical shipments that trade discussions often evoke, but they are major contributors to our nation’s exports. In fact, digitally-deliverable services, a category that includes cloud computing, have accounted for over 60 percent of U.S. service exports in recent years and been an area in which the United States enjoys a substantial trade surplus.

The U.S. economy is far from the only one benefiting from the popularity of cloud services, however. These make it easy for companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to quickly access advanced computing resources without having to invest in and manage costly technical infrastructures. They unlock technologies and platforms that could otherwise be out of reach, enabling firms in all industries to enhance business processes, lower expenses, and raise productivity – a key contributor to broader economic growth. And for those digital startups looking to launch the next must-have app, they provide a host of useful tools. It’s thus little wonder that foreign technology groups like Rovio, Spotify, and Shazam chose U.S. cloud providers to help them achieve global success.

Despite the clear benefits of cloud adoption, some countries are considering or have enacted policies that would limit their domestic companies’ access to these services. These include rules preventing data from moving freely across national borders, such as from an SME in one country to a cloud provider with servers in another, such as the United States. Data flow restrictions undercut economies of scale and make it extremely difficult for cloud firms to offer affordable, reliable access to productivity-boosting resources.

Among other justifications, policymakers may believe that by requiring data to be stored locally, they can stimulate the growth of their domestic technology sector. However, these mandates are far more likely to make it impractical for cloud providers to continue supplying local firms, potentially cutting off a wide array of enterprises from the most sophisticated services available. Accordingly, the European Center for International Political Economy has found that recently proposed or implemented data localization rules in several countries would cause GDP losses.

ITA is a leading voice in the U.S. Government’s global engagement on regulatory issues affecting U.S. cloud providers, such as data localization. Every day, ITA engages with foreign leaders and policymakers, analyzes fast-changing market dynamics, and works with inter-agency colleagues to help ensure that U.S. firms receive equitable market access overseas.

We also strive to provide useful information to U.S. cloud providers big and small as they seek specific export opportunities. We believe that this year’s Top Markets Report on Cloud Computing does just that, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.


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