Author Archive

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Dow Chemical Invests in Employees and the U.S.

April 15, 2015

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

This is a guest blog post by Deborah Borg, president of Dow USA.

Deborah Borg (center), president of Dow USA, with Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis Marcus Jadotte (left) and  Dow's St. Charles Operations site director Johnny Chavez at the Dow Louisiana St. Charles Operation site.

Deborah Borg (center), president of Dow USA, with Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis Marcus Jadotte (left) and Dow’s St. Charles Operations site director Johnny Chavez at the Dow Louisiana St. Charles Operation site.

In 1897, when The Dow Chemical Company first opened its doors in Michigan, our founder most likely wouldn’t have known that more than a century later, Dow would be one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers. Today, we employ more than 24,000 employees at 73 sites across the United States. These employees manufacture approximately 14,000 unique products that are exported to more than 120 countries across the globe.

On Thursday, I joined U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis Marcus Jadotte at our Dow Louisiana St. Charles Operations site, located on the Mississippi, just up the river from New Orleans. The Assistant Secretary along with Johnny Chavez, the St. Charles Operations site director, and I met with Dow employees to discuss the role trade has played in helping Dow grow, innovate, and support our U.S. workforce. We also talked about global competitiveness and the need for a level playing field around the world—now and in the future.

In my role as president of Dow USA, our growth strategy is my number one priority. When I think about how Dow can continue to build on its previous success, I think about two things: our investments and the need to grow and cultivate our customer base. The United States is home to 56 percent of Dow’s global manufacturing operations. We have a very strong domestic customer base, but much of our future customer base lies outside U.S. borders. In fact, 95 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of its purchasing power are outside of the United States. Having access to customers in these markets is key for our continued business growth.

When it comes to resources, Dow is aggressively investing right here in the United States. The most recent example is our $6 billion investment in the Gulf Coast, which will yield new production facilities and new jobs in Louisiana and Texas. It also means stronger economies for those states and the United States as a whole.

Although we can control where and how much to invest, Dow has less control over increasing our access to global consumers through new trade agreements. That responsibility falls to Congress and the president. President Obama has been working hard to negotiate new trade agreements with the Asia-Pacific region and Europe that would lower or eliminate barriers to export for Dow products and the products of thousands of other U.S. businesses both large and small.

We’re encouraged by the efforts of the president and the support of the Commerce Department in highlighting the benefits of trade. Global customers are critical to Dow’s continued growth, and new trade agreements hold the promise for Dow to succeed for another century. At Dow, we have been working to generate support in Congress for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. With TPA, the United States has a stronger hand at the negotiating table to bring home trade deals that will benefit American companies and workers.

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The United States and Canada Improve Cross-Border Trade and Transportation Through Innovative Partnership

April 14, 2015

Andres Leon is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of North America.

In 2011, President Obama and Canada’s Prime Minster Harper announced the Beyond the Border initiative to enhance security and accelerate the flow of people, goods, and services between the United States and Canadian border. On February 18, 2015, Beyond the Border reached a new milestone: the United States, Canada, and the state of Michigan signed an agreement to finance the proposed New International Trade Crossing (NITC) that will link Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The Detroit-Windsor corridor is one of the most important crossings for U.S.-Canadian commerce. The new agreement includes funding for a U.S. customs plaza that will be procured as part of the NITC public-private partnership to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain the project. The costs of the project will be paid from future toll revenues.

The public-private partnership is a true sign of progress for the border initiative and will provide the United States and Michigan with jobs, modern infrastructure, and improved security. The United States and Canada are strong economic partners, with Canada being the largest trading partner for the United States and the state of Michigan. Many jobs in the United States, and particularly in Michigan, depend on U.S.-Canada trade. In fact, last year, annual trade in goods and services between the two countries was roughly $658 billion, a quarter of which was facilitated in the Detroit-Windsor corridor.

The new agreement is a result of several years of discussions and cooperation among the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. General Services Administration, the state of Michigan, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, and Transport Canada. Above all, the agreement reflects the ongoing commitment of U.S. and Canadian officials to promote long-term economic growth in the region.

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President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa is Writing a New Chapter in U.S.-Africa Relations

April 9, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Post by Penny Pritzker

The President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa Cover ImageToday, I led the first meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. This Council is part of the Administration’s effort to write the next paragraphs in what President Obama called a “new chapter in U.S.-Africa relations.”

Today’s gathering was intended to build on what was started at the historic U.S.-Africa Business Forum last August, when U.S. firms announced more than 14 billion worth of investments in African markets.

We want to see that kind of economic engagement continue, which is why I was honored that the President asked me to establish this Council – to ensure that the private sector’s perspective is factored into our policy making.

The Council’s job is to advise the Department of Commerce and the Obama Administration on how to expand trade and investment opportunities for U.S. firms in Africa and create opportunities for African companies that want to do business in America.

To meet this charge, the Council has focused on three key areas.

First is mobilizing capital, because robust capital markets are essential for any nation to attract long-term investment. The Commerce Department will soon launch an investor road show to provide U.S. financial firms and exporters with the opportunity to hear directly from African governments about their investment climates and specific infrastructure projects and to assess and address real market risks.

Second is improving supply chain efficiency. Ensuring quick and easy movement of imports and exports can help reduce cost, increase efficiency of trade, and boost government revenues.

Third is infrastructure. American companies have experience and expertise in developing infrastructure, but at the Commerce Department, we have heard repeatedly from U.S. companies about the challenge of competing on a level playing field with foreign firms to win major infrastructure projects. The Council has recommended the creation of a U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Center to identify, vet, and prioritize African infrastructure projects – which is a great start and will help change the dynamic.

The Department of Commerce has solutions. We have data. We have market expertise. And we have great people. Our Foreign Commercial Service has a full range of tools and services at your disposal, including staff on the ground to help U.S. companies succeed in Africa. We would like your ideas on how to get the word out.

We had robust discussions about all of these issues during today’s meeting, and I am confident that we can make great progress in the coming months and years. I look forward to continuing to work with the Council to make doing business in Africa easier for U.S. companies – and to keep America and Africa open for business together.

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Profile of U.S. Exporters Highlights Contributions of Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses

April 8, 2015

Lauren Scott is an international economist in the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis at the International Trade Administration.

Infographic thumbnailYesterday the Census Bureau released its annual Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies, which details the characteristics of U.S. merchandise trading companies in 2013. The report, a joint project between Census and the International Trade Administration (ITA), includes information on company size, industry sector, geographic location, and export markets. More than 304,000 U.S. companies exported goods in 2013, which is a 10 percent increase from 2009, when the National Export Initiative (NEI) was first announced by President Obama.

The Profile especially highlights the role of small businesses in export industries. Small- and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, which are firms with fewer than 500 employees, accounted for 98 percent of the number of U.S. exporters in 2013 and $471 billion in known value of goods exports*. The majority of SME exporters ship goods to at least one of our NAFTA partner countries, Canada or Mexico, with the U.K., China, and Germany, also serving as top markets for SME exports. In fact, the known value of SME exports to Mexico increased by nearly 19 percent between 2012 and 2013. Similarly, SME exports, by value, grew by 5 percent to Colombia during its second year as a U.S. free trade agreement partner. Nearly 21,000 SMEs exported goods to South Korea and more than 14,000 exported to Colombia in 2013, both of which became U.S. free trade partners in 2012.

The majority of U.S. exporters are non-manufacturing firms, and SMEs account for the majority of these non-manufacturing companies. Wholesale trade companies and other non-manufacturing firms made up 76 percent of SME exporters. These SMEs contributed 55 percent of the non-manufacturing sector’s $562 billion in exports. Manufacturing firms account for less than a quarter of U.S. exporters; however, this sector accounted for 60 percent of total known export value in 2013, much of which was generated by large firms.

SMEs can also be a critical driver for economic growth through exports at the state level. In fact, SMEs were responsible for more than half of known goods exports in Montana, Rhode Island, Florida, Wyoming, New York, Hawaii, and Maine. Texas added nearly 700 SME exporters in 2013, which represented the largest increase in total exporters by state across the U.S. that year.

Small- and medium-sized firms stand to gain by expanding their reach in the global marketplace. The majority of SMEs (59 percent) exported to a single foreign market in 2013, while the majority of large companies (55 percent) exported to five or more countries. SMEs often face additional trade barriers overseas compared to large companies that use offshore business affiliates to more easily facilitate exports to a target market. Despite these obstacles, almost 93,000 SMEs exported goods to the European Union in 2013, and exports from all companies to the Pacific Rim region increased by $8 billion between 2012 and 2013. Both markets represent opportunities for continued and increasing growth.

Current and future U.S. free trade agreements, including those under negotiation with the EU and through the TPP, will be beneficial for all U.S. companies, especially SMEs, to gain market access to half of the global economy and continue growing America’s export footprint overseas.

For more information, read the full Census report or review ITA’s summary of the report highlights. Also, be sure to check out our infographic .

* “Known value” refers to export transactions that can be linked to a specific company, so in many cases these figures may be underestimated.

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Why U.S. Companies Should ‘Think Global’ from Day One

April 7, 2015

Ashley Zuelke is the Senior Advisor for Export Policy, Promotion and Strategy at the International Trade Administration.

Julia McNerney is the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary at the International Trade Administration.

Last week, the International Trade Administration (ITA) held the first event in the Startup Global Pilot program at 1776, a local business incubator in Washington, D.C. Startup Global, which Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker launched in February, was designed to help more startup firms think global from the earliest stages of a company’s growth. One of four in a series of pilot program educational events, the  1776 event welcomed 25 startups and experienced startup exporters. The participants all agreed that the theme of Thursday’s event is clear: start planning for international success on day one. The theme is important because:

  • The world wants U.S. goods and services.
  • Advances in technology and communications, as well as new assurances of e-commerce platforms that build trust between buyer and seller, mean that it is easier than ever for the 95 percent of consumers outside the United States to purchase from U.S. companies.
  • Many technology-enabled businesses are in a reactive position when international sales opportunities or challenges arise, and don’t know where to start or who to go to for help.

At the cutting edge of commercial innovation, startups are the next generation of U.S. exporters. As a result, ITA is piloting Startup Global, an outreach and partnership development program launched under NEI/NEXT, the successor to the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI). The NEI/NEXT strategy coordinates federal programs and policies to help more U.S. companies begin exporting and expand to new markets by making it easier to get involved.

Startup Global is designed to provide focused assistance and information to early-stage companies by building partnerships with the United States’ unparalleled incubators and accelerators, which are key centers of gravity and trusted advisers in the startup ecosystem. Startup Global will produce half day educational seminars in partnership with local incubators and accelerators to cover the most-pressing issues startups face in the global business environment. At last week’s event at 1776, those topics included the path to going global, the availability of key federal and local government resources, and best practices in intellectual property protection and licensing.

Another theme realized at Thursday’s Startup Global pilot:  assistance is available. Participants were enthusiastic to learn about federal government resources in their own backyard. They include:

In addition, courtesy of the Global Innovation Forum at the National Foreign Trade Council, participants heard about other available resources from leading private sector experts about doing business internationally.

In the upcoming months, the Department of Commerce will host pilot seminars in Arlington, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee. These events will not only provide direct assistance and access to expertise, but also measure demand to inform the creation of a national initiative.

The pilot event at 1776 set a high bar and registered tremendous demand. ITA looks forward to additional insightful feedback from future seminars, and to supporting the next generation of globally fluent U.S. businesses.

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Former Secretaries of Commerce Urge Congress to Pass Trade Promotion Authority

March 25, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by William M. Daley, former Secretary of Commerce (1997-2000)

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley

Free trade agreements are critical to strengthening American competitiveness, spurring economic growth, and bolstering job creation. With the trade agreements we currently have in place, U.S. exports hit a record-high for the fifth straight year in 2014, reaching $2.34 trillion and supporting 11.7 million American jobs. Goods exports to the 20 economies that have trade agreements with the United States reached a record $765.1 billion in 2014– an increase of 4.3 percent from 2013.

As Commerce Secretary under President Clinton, I led a number of efforts to open new markets to U.S. goods and services, and to help American companies navigate the trade landscape in foreign countries. I visited more than 40 countries to promote U.S. exports, expanded the Department’s overseas commercial staff to support U.S. exporters, and aggressively monitored the impact of trade practices of other nations on U.S. business and workers. I saw firsthand how free trade agreements benefited American businesses, and supported good-paying jobs for American workers.

We must ensure that President Obama can utilize the same tools to negotiate and implement new trade agreements that have been afforded to every President since President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.Along with nine other Commerce Secretaries whose tenures span back to 1973,  we all agree – passing Trade Promotion Authority is not a Democratic or Republican request; it is a bipartisan issue that Congress must address now.

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The Innovative and Useful U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool (Video)

March 25, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

When you think of business and investment opportunities in the United States, where’s the best place to start?  America is made up of 50 states plus territories and each location has its own unique economic profile. The U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool, a combined effort of the Harvard Business School and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, is THE starting place for anyone looking to expand their business in the U.S. The free, online Cluster Mapping tool uses more than 50 million data records to help you identify industry regional clusters and make informed investment decisions.

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