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NOAA Provides Environmental Intelligence to Keep Goods Moving Along Our Marine Highways

May 14, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

A cargo ship loaded with storage containers navigates through a port. NOAA tools —such as nautical charts, accurate positioning services, and ocean and weather observations—play a key role in ensuring that shipments move swiftly and safely along our marine highways.

NOAA tools —such as nautical charts, accurate positioning services, and ocean and weather observations—play a key role in ensuring that shipments move swiftly and safely along our marine highways.

By weight, 75 percent of U.S. international trade moves through the nation’s ports and harbors. Those ports support, directly and indirectly, more than 13 million American jobs.

NOAA provides environmental intelligence to support safe, efficient, and environmentally sound navigation through U.S. ports. NOAA produces the nation’s nautical charts, which provide essential navigation information such as water depths; locations of dangers to navigation; locations and characteristics of aids to navigation; anchorages; and other features.

NOAA also integrates ocean and coastal observations, data, science, and services to provide actionable information, thereby improving informed choices. Good decisions today protect lives and property tomorrow.

The agency monitors, assesses, and distributes tide, current, and water level products and services. Positioning information from NOAA provides a highly accurate, precise, and consistent  framework to help mariners safely navigate around obstructions in our nation’s busy waterways.

NOAA’s role warning coastal areas of hurricane threats is well known, but the agency also plays a significant role after the storm. NOAA moves quickly to help reopen ports. Navigation response teams survey ports and channels, searching for submerged debris and other dangers to navigation. NOAA aerial photography helps the public, decision makers, and insurance adjusters assess the extent of storm damage.

In addition, NOAA’s Physical Oceanographic Real-time System (PORTS®) provides accurate real-time oceanographic information, tailored to the specific needs of local maritime communities. Knowledge of the currents, water levels, winds, and density of the water can increase the amount of cargo moved through a port and harbor by enabling mariners to safely utilize every inch of dredged channel depth. For example, an economic study showed that the Tampa Bay economy receives more than $7 million a year in savings and direct income from PORTS®. A second study calculated $16 million a year in savings for the Houston-Galveston region.

Learn more at http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/navigation/marinenav/

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Secretary Pritzker Announces Next Phase of the National Export Initiative — NEI/NEXT

May 13, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

NEI Next emblemToday, Secretary Penny Pritzker announced NEI/NEXT – a data-based, customer service-driven initiative to ensure that more American businesses can fully capitalize on markets that are opening up around the world. Through five core objectives, NEI/NEXT will build on Administration-wide achievements under the National Export Initiative (NEI), to help all businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.

Under the NEI, the United States has had four straight record-breaking years of exports – hitting an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year – up $700 billion from 2009. The NEI has been instrumental in strengthening high-level commercial advocacy on behalf of U.S. companies, increasing small business participation in trade events, partnering with regions to develop export plans, expanding strategic partnerships to promote exports,  implementing our trade agreements, enforcing U.S. trade rights, and driving the most ambitious trade agenda in a generation.

In a new economic report released today by the Department of Commerce, data shows that nearly one-third of the country’s economic growth since mid-2009 has been driven by exports. Nearly 30,000 businesses have started exporting for the first time. And most importantly, since 2009, the number of jobs supported by exports has grown by 1.6 million to more than 11.3 million – the highest in 20 years.

Yet still, too many American firms remain focused on domestic markets.  Less than 5 percent of U.S. companies export, and more than half of those exporters sell to only one market. To help bridge that gap, and look for new opportunities to help U.S. businesses export, the Department of Commerce, along with 20 federal agency partners last year began to take a fresh look at the NEI and develop strategies that would help make trade a central part of America’s economic DNA.  The end product of that interagency review resulted in five key strategies to help more U.S. companies reach more markets. The five objectives of NEI/NEXT include:

  1. Connecting more U.S. businesses to their NEXT global customer with tailored industry-specific information and assistance.
  2. Making the NEXT international shipment easier and less expensive, through efforts to streamline U.S. government export-related services, reporting requirements and processes, and speeding American goods to more markets through domestic infrastructure improvements.
  3. Expanding access to finance for U.S. businesses’ NEXT export transaction, helping more exporters obtain financing to meet international demand, and ensuring more companies know what products and services are available to reduce risk and export to new markets with confidence.
  4. Promoting exports and foreign direct investment attraction as the NEXT economic development priority in communities and regions across the country by enhancing partnerships with local and state leaders and by coordinating with SelectUSA, the U.S. government-wide program housed within the Department of Commerce to facilitate foreign direct investment.
  5. Creating, fostering and ensuring U.S. business’ NEXT global opportunity by helping developed and developing economies improve their business environments, by opening new markets, and by establishing conditions and addressing barriers to allow more American exporters to compete and win abroad.

Underlying this entire strategy will be an effort to support the creation of improved data to help companies make decisions, to help communities integrate exports into their economic development plans, and to help us – as a government – gather feedback and continuously improve our efforts.

Read Secretary Pritzker’s complete remarks at The Atlantic about NEI/NEXT.

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Cash Flow Strategies to Make Your Exports More Competitive

May 13, 2014

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

Jonathan Rees is the Managing Director of Western Union Business Solutions in North America. Western Union Business Solutions is an International Trade Administration Strategic Partner.

U.S. exports have increased dramatically since 2009 but have begun to plateau since 2013.A healthy U.S. economy includes strong exports. In an age of ever-increasing global trade, these exports indicate the demand for U.S. products and services, particularly in countries with an expanding middle class.Since 2010, the government has committed to help U.S. businesses find buyers worldwide, win more contracts, and learn new ways to sell products and services overseas. This commitment highlights the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in propelling the American economy.

However, after a sharp appreciation, over the last two years U.S. exports have been showing signs of hitting a plateau.

The good news is this: U.S. exports have abundant room to grow. In fact, compared to other industrialized countries, there are signs that the United States is only beginning to tap into its export potential.

According to the World Bank, exports accounted for only 14 percent of the U.S. GDP in 2012, while other Western industrialized nations, such as Germany, the United Kingdom and France, export between 30 to 52 percent of their GDPs. According to the  U.S. Small Business Administration, SMEs in the United States generate more than 46 percent of the country’s nonfarm private gross domestic product. They also comprise 98 percent of America’s exporters and produce 33 percent of all export value – clear drivers of economic growth.

So what can American SMEs do to expand this export potential? Simply put, make it easy for the buyer.

Successful exporters try to make their goods and services as attractive as possible, regardless of the buyer’s location. American exporters can take some easy steps to do this and protect profits at the same time. By using the right combination of payment and cash management strategies,  SMEs can improve their cash flow and increase overseas demand.

Here are three tips to help:

  1. Plan ahead and create a cross-border payment strategy that supports your company’s cash flow while hedging foreign exchange risk. Most foreign buyers generally prefer to trade in their local currencies to avoid foreign exchange (FX) exposure.  As such, selling in foreign currencies can be a viable option for SMEs who wish to enter and remain competitive in global markets.   It’s important for SMEs to take a critical look at their business needs and build a cross-border payment strategy that can hedge FX risk. Find a partner that can help you determine what your cross-border payment needs are and set your actions accordingly.  One of the possible solutions to hedge FX risk is a forward contract, which enables the exporter to sell at a set amount of foreign currency at a pre-agreed exchange rate with a delivery date from three days to one year into the future.  Forward contracts can be ideal for protecting against FX fluctuations and are useful for budgeting.
  2. Use a budgeting tool that gives visibility to FX exposures and simplify foreign accounts payable. If you are doing business in multiple countries and receiving payment in multiple currencies and from different time zones, it’s helpful to use a payment solution product that will help you keep track of your invoices. Some providers also offer budgeting products that automatically calculate total currency exposure for multiple invoices. This allows businesses to use a single platform to track cross-border incoming and outgoing cash flows so that businesses can make more informed decisions.  Such international budgeting and cash management products are offered by many reputable global financial services firms, including Western Union Business Solutions.
  3. Settle invoices with overseas vendors in their local currency. Setting prices in vendors’ local currency as a practice hasn’t been widely adopted in the  United States., but it’s worth considering. If your company does a high volume of trade in a certain country or currency, it makes sense to bill your customers in that currency. Overseas vendors often charge extra fees for paying companies in U.S. dollars in order to mitigate against currency risk. For example, research from Western Union Business Solutions shows that one in five Chinese suppliers adds roughly 3-4 per-cent to  U.S. dollar invoices to cover FX fluctuations. Making deals with overseas vendors using their local currency also gives business owners the opportunity to negotiate a discount.

This last step represents a simple change in foreign exchange strategy that can send a signal that you, the exporter, understand your overseas customers and want to make it easy for them to do business with you. It is just a matter of thinking about what the customer wants and acting on it – a good strategy for any business.

To learn more about how to manage FX risk and how to export in foreign currencies, you may wish to read the U.S. Commerce Department’s Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters.

Happy World Trade Month!

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Our Global City Celebrates Global Business

May 12, 2014

World Trade Week New York City is May 12 through 23, 2014This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

KL Fredericks and David Roman are International Trade Specialists at the Harlem Export Assistance Center in New York.

Only in New York…

That’s the slogan so commonly used to describe our one-of-a-kind city. We New Yorkers covet all the wonderful things about our town that make it what it is, from our accents to our sports.

We also love the quality goods and services that come from our entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and businesspeople. But this week, during World Trade Week NYC, we want to make sure that these products aren’t found only in New York.

This week, all of us at the U.S. Commercial Service in New York and throughout the region are excited to partner with the state, the city, local companies, and many business organizations to help get more of our businesses competing in the global marketplace.

Our network of more than 40 organizations throughout the region will host a number of events, workshops, panels, and information sessions to connect local businesses with the best opportunities to compete overseas and help share the best practices for finding success in global markets.

From understanding copyright strategies, to working with startups in Africa, to competing in Mexico, to evaluating free trade agreements, the events going on this week and throughout the month will provide a comprehensive learning experience for any business that wants to expand its exports.

Of course it’s fitting that World Trade Week NYC coincides with Small Business Week, and we’ll be showing New York’s small businesses how important it is to compete in the global marketplace.

World Trade Week is officially only one week here in NYC, but this city is a global city 52 weeks a year! Our network of trade specialists downtown, in Harlem, on Long Island and throughout the region are here to help any company that’s ready to get started exporting. We hope we’ll see many of you at events throughout the week, and we hope to see many of your businesses finding more success overseas.

Happy World Trade Week!

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College Looks South for Students

May 11, 2014

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

Moshtayeen Ahmad recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

Like many other American higher education institutions, Michigan-based College for Creative Studies (CCS) has an important corps of foreign students contributing to the school’s cultural and educational experience.

Those international students are also making an important contribution to the American economy.

When a student comes to the United States from overseas to study, it is a service export. Foreign students accounted for $24.7 billion of U.S. exports in 2013.

At CCS, international students represent 6 percent of the student body and come from 17 different countries.

In an effort to recruit more qualified students from overseas, the International Trade Administration’s Michigan Export Assistant Center helped the College sign an agreement with Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico to foster both student and faculty exchanges between the schools.

This exchange supports more than just increased exports; it also supports cultural exchange between students of the United States and Mexico. These exchanges help further develop our overall relationship with other nations.

Thanks to their positive experience with this initial agreement, CCS has scheduled two additional Gold Key matchmaking services to find new potential partners in Mexico, and intends to recruit students from additional international markets.

Helping American exporters find new partners in Latin America is what the Department of Commerce’s Look South campaign is all about!

We want to help U.S. businesses, as well as colleges and universities, that are already exporting to Mexico to use their experience as a springboard to pursue other markets in the Latin American region.  The markets featured in the Look South campaign all have growing middle classes which increasingly desire high-quality American goods, including an American education.

Universities or educational institutions interested in developing partnerships or recruiting students from the region can find support from the International Trade Administration and our partner institutions.  Start by visiting www.export.gov/looksouth to learn more about the available resources and consider the many opportunities ahead.

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NC Company Keeps its Ducks in A Row, Finds Global Success

May 8, 2014

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

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

Making a good product isn’t the only key to succeeding in the global market. For North Carolina-based medical device manufacturer Rhythmlink International, one major hurdle is navigating important regulations for target markets.

The company has been operating from more than 10 years, and is bringing its products to several international markets with the goal of exports making up 10 percent of its business by the end of 2014.

The company currently exports to Canada, Israel, and Australia, and has made contacts in new markets with help from the U.S. Commercial Service and the DISCOVER Global Markets Business Forum.

Doug Barry of the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center caught up with Rhythmlink’s international marketing manager Christy Ashkettle to see how the journey is going.

Barry: What is your number one exporting challenge?

Ashkettle: For us at this point it’s the regulatory issues with foreign governments and their version of the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration]. We must register our products and ensure that we are allowed to bring those medical devices into the country.

Barry: Is there one that you’re tackling now, or have tackled in the past?

Ashkettle: We have tackled Canada. It wasn’t really much of a tackle; it was more just dealing with what they needed done, getting the certificate, and ensuring that all our ducks are in a row. We’ve done that.

Barry: Are you facing challenges in any markets?

Ashkettle: There is just a lot of legwork in the back end, in making sure that you’ve got files with the proper documentation that are going to be registered with their governments, and there is someone working on that side in your best interest, as well as distributors who are going to be selling your products for you.

Barry: How has the U.S. government helped your company?

Ashkettle: They have been really great. We have come to the DISCOVER Global Markets conferences and we’ve met a lot of people. We’ve made some good contacts. The U.S. Commercial Service and our Export Assistance Center have been a huge help, and they’re going to help us in Germany at the international healthcare products trade show Medica.

Barry: We keep hearing that exporters face many challenges and experience myriad concerns and fears. Why did that not stop you?

Ashkettle: Because you have got to start somewhere. It’s a global village and you have got to be involved if you want to get somewhere. You need a strong belief in your product. We honestly do have great quality products, a superior company, and we’ve had the help of the Commercial Service and we just know that people need our products in other countries and we’ll be glad to sell them to them.

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Partnering to Continue U.S. Export Growth in China

May 7, 2014

Eric Wolff is the Deputy Principal Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai.

Ken Jarrett and Judy Reinke sign the Memorandum of Understanding at the Department of Commerce.

AmCham Shanghai President Ken Jarrett and Deputy Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke sign the Memorandum of Agreement at the Department of Commerce.

When you are speaking for American businesses in East China, it’s great to have a good set of partners by your side.

That’s why it’s so important that the International Trade Administration (ITA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the American Chamber of Commerce—Shanghai. Our teams will cooperate on initiatives to help American businesses succeed in East China, one of the hubs of the country’s growing economy.

We will share resources to help American companies find the most qualified partners in the region and make sure that U.S. business leaders know about every important opportunity to do business here. We’ll also work together to support Chinese investors looking for investment opportunities in the United States.

American business leaders have long known that East China represents an outstanding business market for U.S. companies, which is why AmCham Shanghai was one of the first AmChams founded outside the United States.

As we sign this agreement, China is a more promising market than ever.

U.S. exports to the country have increased by more than 75 percent since 2009, reaching a record $122 billion in 2013. The growing middle class has helped create a remarkable increase in U.S. auto exports to China.

The signatures make it official!   The Memorandum of Agreement between ITA and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai formalizes our cooperative efforts supporting U.S. businesses in East China.

The Memorandum of Agreement formalizes the partnership between the International Trade Administration and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

Actually, transportation equipment exports overall have risen dramatically in recent history, along with sectors like chemicals and wood products.

Signs point to this trend of growth continuing. China’s economy continues to grow, and consumers around the country continue to seek out high quality, American goods.

Factor in the U.S. government’s continued emphasis on supporting American companies here, demonstrated by ITA’s opening of a new office in Wuhan and an increase in personnel throughout the country, and you have a recipe for a bright future of economic opportunity.

I very much look forward to the partnership between AmCham Shanghai and ITA, and I know that working together, we will really see some great success stories.

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Startup→Global Connects New Entrepreneurs to the World

May 6, 2014

Ashley Zuelke and Julia McNerney represent the International Trade Administration on the U.S. Government’s Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee.

The Design Workshop at the White House featured group activities identifying best practices for entrepreneurs looking to compete overseas.

The Design Workshop at the White House featured group activities identifying best practices for entrepreneurs looking to compete overseas.

The words “start-up” and “global” don’t often appear in the same sentence. But they should.

Start-up firms and entrepreneurs represent the cutting edge of commercial product and service innovation. More importantly, they are critical job creators in the American economy. That’s why the Commerce Department, in partnership with the White House, has taken concrete action to improve the environment for high-growth entrepreneurship across the country, including increasing access to capital and reducing barriers to growth.

Last week, at a Design Workshop at the White House, we took the next step in the Administration’s support of start-ups and entrepreneurs by beginning a conversation about how to better engage the start-up community on going global.

By bringing together start-ups, accelerators, incubators, venture capital firms, service providers, universities, and government officials, we plan to develop a platform for a Startup→Global initiative that will be constructed and implemented together with those key stakeholders. These partners will help to kick-start a national conversation to further build out this concept and design a concrete, actionable, and measureable initiative to ensure that businesses in this ecosystem are poised to capitalize on the 1 billion new customers that will be entering the global middle class in the next 15 years.

We recognize that certain start-ups, depending on where the company is in its lifecycle and its industry subsector, are often poised to rapidly expand to global markets right away. Our hope is to design an initiative to help make that not only possible, but most importantly, successful for more start-ups.

We believe this will lead to more start-ups like Fenugreen, a social enterprise that takes on global waste with a simple FreshPaper innovation. Its product is now being used by farmers and families in more than 40 countries, and it’s simultaneously establishing initiatives to benefit local food banks in the U.S. and small-scale farmers in the developing world.

These types of products and innovations, from agribusiness to health information technology to renewable energy, have the ability to transform the way that countries are developing while also advancing core U.S. values of trade, democracy, and security.

A centerpiece of the President’s National Export Initiative has always been an effort to make exports an essential part of doing business, and have more companies selling more goods and services abroad. By helping more high-growth start-ups go global, we will further encourage trade as broader part of the American business DNA.

Ultimately, this will lead to the United States being better positioned for future economic growth and competitiveness, and to becoming a more globally fluent nation.

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Pack Your Bags, Support Jobs!

May 5, 2014

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

Isabel Hill is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Office. 

National Travel and Tourism Week is May 3-11, 2014.

National Travel and Tourism Week is May 3-11, 2014.  (Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service)

It’s National Travel and Tourism Week, and there may not be an industry in the country that contributes so much to the U.S. economy and is so fun to celebrate!

You may not have thought about it, but your last road trip, night in a hotel, or weekend at the coast contributed to an industry that supports millions of jobs here in the United States. Travel and tourism generated $1.51 trillion for the U.S. economy in 2013.

This industry is also the country’s largest services export industry, contributing a record $180.7 billion to U.S. export totals in 2013. Those exports support 1.3 million U.S. jobs.

On top of the numbers is the contribution this industry makes to quality of life. Research shows that travel has a positive effect on relationships, education, and health!

So what’s not to celebrate?

We at the International Trade Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Office  are proud to work with the U.S. Travel Association, numerous state agencies, and the private sector to support travel and tourism and highlight its beneficial effects on the economy.

How has travel affected your life? Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter and share your story using #NTTW14. Then pull out your calendar – it’s time to plan your next vacation!

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May is World Trade Month 2014

May 1, 2014

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Happy World Trade Month!

For years, May has been the time to not only recognize the benefits of international trade, but also for organizations around the country to support more American companies competing overseas.

For the United States, the benefits of trade have been great, as have our successes. We recently announced that for the fourth straight year, the United States set a record for annual exports in 2013, at $2.3 trillion. That is a 40 percent growth in total exports since 2009.

Behind those exports are millions of well-paying American jobs – a record 11.3 million jobs to be exact. That number is an increase of 1.6 million from 2009.

As more American businesses compete and succeed in the global marketplace, the entire national economy reaps benefit.

Around the country, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private sector entities are supporting events to help more American companies engage in the global marketplace. We tip our hat to every organization throughout the country that is supporting world trade events this month and all year long.

Here are just a few of the events going on:

From Los Angeles to New York City, Montana to Alabama, trade-promotion seminars are connecting small companies to opportunities and helping get more business leaders involved in the global market.

We encourage small businesses to connect with events in their area to learn more about how engaging in the global marketplace can support your business! Contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to find events or to learn how you can tap into the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside the United States.

We also encourage you to follow the International Trade Administration on Twitter at @TradeGov where we will be highlighting many of the great events going on. Share pictures from your events and lessons learned using #WorldTradeMonth.

I’m very excited to celebrate World Trade Month with all of you!

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