Archive for the ‘Look South’ Category

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Six Reasons to Look South to Mexico and Central America’s Infrastructure Build-Out

August 21, 2015

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

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

Infrastructure is the buzzword for companies looking for new business opportunities in Latin America.  The region is undergoing a major infrastructure build-out as economies and populations grow.  Large scale public-private partnership projects in the transportation sector abound, particularly in roadways, airports, and ports.  Numerous opportunities exist in related industries as well, such as renewable energy, water resources, environmental technologies, rural development, aircraft parts, building parts, and more.  If your company works in or supplies the infrastructure sector and its many related industries, this is an opportunity not to be missed!

This September 9th ITA’s Commercial Service Office in Denver is hosting an event to introduce your company to the latest infrastructure opportunities in Mexico and Central America as part of ITA’s Look South initiative. Here’s why you should attend:

  1. Mexico is committed to investing in infrastructure. The Government of Mexico has initiated a series of major reforms known as the National Infrastructure Program (PNI) which includes major projects intended for execution through 2018. For example, the PNI identifies 84 discrete projects in the water sector and 118 electricity sector projects. They are also in the midst of mega transportation projects such as expanding the Metrorail systems and the Mexico City airport. Read more in the U.S. Trade and Development Agency’s Mexico Project Resource Guide.
  2. El Salvador is modernizing its infrastructure with help from multilateral development banks. El Salvador has numerous ports, roads, and airports under expansion, upgrade, or development. Most projects are financed by multilateral development banks such as Inter-American Development Bank, Central American Bank for Economic Integration, as well as foreign development agencies or assistance programs including Millennium Challenge Corporation. Representatives from the Inter-American Development bank will be on hand at the event to discuss the $2.4 billion in approved projects the Bank is financing in El Salvador.
  3. Honduras is a renewable energy star! Honduras is ranked 20th worldwide in ITA’s Top Markets Report for renewable energy exports, and 7th for wind energy exports. The Honduran government is promoting renewable energy projects and offering various incentives for its development.
  4. Guatemala is a team player, working with other Central American nations to advance regional infrastructure. In April 2014, Guatemala signed an agreement with Mexico to build a natural gas pipeline linking both nations and enabling distribution of fuel throughout Central America. Honduras has also signed on to help develop the project which is valued at approximately $1billion and will be bid on in 2016.
  5. Our Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with each of these markets give your company a leg-up. FTAs offer benefits, like zero tariffs, to exporters and protections for investors in partner countries. Our FTAs have transformed Mexico and the group of six Central American countries that form CAFTA-DR into some of our principal trading partners. Together CAFTA-DR ranked 13th largest among U.S. export markets in the world in 2014, and the 3rd largest in Latin America behind Mexico and Brazil.

CS Denver’s September 9th event will introduce your company to the latest projects in each of these markets.  Experts will discuss procurement opportunities, bidding requirements, how to qualify, sources of financing, and more!  Participants will have the chance to meet one-on-one with representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, Minority Business Development Agency, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and Commercial Service in Mexico and Central America to discuss opportunities for their company and get their questions answered.  Sign up today!

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Export Success Series: Increasing Opportunities For U.S. Trade In Nicaragua and Guatemala

June 15, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Trade Americas wordmarkTwo Central American countries, Nicaragua and Guatemala, continue to open doors for American companies who are seeking out new markets. The U.S. Commercial Service, the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, helps U.S. companies get started in exporting and increase their sales to new markets around the world. Recently, the U.S. Commercial Service office worked with two companies, Second Frontiers and Battery Concepts, helping them expand sales and services into these important Central American countries.

Second Frontiers, a global technology consulting firm specializing in the electronic equipment industry, announced their intentions to expand services to new markets and trade partners. In August of 2014, with the assistance of the Denver, Colorado U.S. Commercial Service office, Second Frontiers used the unique business match-making services that are part of the Gold Key Service program to travel to five Central American countries, including Nicaragua and Guatemala, to meet with prospective trade partners in their industry sector. The Gold Key program provides American firms of all sizes with customized, prescreened meetings with potential overseas clients. As a result of these meetings and expanded trade opportunities, Second Frontiers is now exploring the possibility of building additional office space, warehousing, and distribution centers in the U.S. The progress of their partnerships in foreign markets has been a major catalyst for Second Frontiers domestic growth and increased sales.

Similarly, Battery Concepts, a family-owned supplier of forklift batteries, hopes to pursue new export partnerships with companies in Nicaragua and Guatemala. The El Paso, Texas U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) is assisting Battery Concepts as they look to develop and build new trade networks. So far, the firm has increased export sales from $66,000 per month in 2010 to over $354,000 per month in 2014. The company’s successes were showcased at an International Trade Policy Event at the White House in March of 2015. Battery Concepts’ President John Kenemore stated, “we try to participate in U.S. Commercial Service events every chance we get. The U.S. Commercial Service has staff in many locations, and we plan on using their services at every opportunity.”

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker attended the President’s Export Council meeting to discuss how to increase international exporting opportunities for American business. Overall, the PEC meeting provided a forum for resolving trade-related challenges across business, industrial, agricultural, labor, and government sectors. Secretary Pritzker highlighted recent accomplishments in international trade as a direct result of the PEC’s recommendations, which include success stories similar to those of Second Frontiers and Battery Concepts.

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U.S. Trade Mission Builds Education Ties with Central America

April 27, 2015

Ted Dean is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services at the International Trade Administration.  

Deputy Assistant Secretary Ted Dean and Ambassador James Nealon open the Education Fair in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Ted Dean and Ambassador James Nealon open the Education Fair in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Last month, I had an unique opportunity to lead a U.S. Department of Commerce education trade mission to San Salvador and Santa Ana, El Salvador; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Managua, Nicaragua. The mission not only strengthened cultural and economic ties between the United States and these countries, but it generated a great deal of enthusiasm thanks to face-to-face meetings between higher learning institutions in the United States, and students and schools in the region.

During the mission, representatives from nearly 20 accredited U.S. academic institutions—representing 14 states, the District of Colombia, and Puerto Rico—showcased their impressive undergraduate, graduate, community college and intensive English language programs. Commerce’s partner on the mission was the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA.

While in El Salvador, our delegation was well-received during visits to The American School (Escuela Americana El Salvador), a college-preparatory institution, and Catholic University of El Salvador (Universidad Católica de El Salvador), in Santa Ana. Throughout the mission, U.S. school representatives met with hundreds of enthusiastic students during a series of education trade fairs where they shared insights on education and workforce trends. I expect that our participation in these events will open new horizons for many students to pursue educational opportunities in the United States, enabling them to advance their workforce skills while contributing to economic growth in their home countries.

The United States is a premier destination for students studying abroad. According to the Institute of International Education, nearly 900,000 international students studied at U.S. institutions of higher learning during the 2013–2014 academic year, which is more than any other country. The United States is home to more than 4,000 accredited institutions of higher learning and, according to Times Higher Education, the United States hosts 15 of the top 20 universities in the world. In addition, the availability of generous financial aid offered by many U.S. schools has increased opportunities for international study in the United States.

U.S. education exports continue to be a major contributor to the U.S. economy, with international student spending in the United States totaling more than $27 billion in 2014. This trade mission is yet another example of how President Obama’s Look South Initiative is working to encourage U.S. businesses to explore trade opportunities with the United States’ free trade agreement partner countries in Latin America. Together, these 11 countries represent more than 270 million consumers.

 

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Exporting: Mission Possible – Two Companies’ Stories

March 3, 2015

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

Laura Ebert is a Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration.

First Choice Marine Supply CEO Craig Ruda and interpreter Gabriela Schulten meet with potential distributor Maress Supply in Santiago, Chile

First Choice Marine Supply CEO Craig Ruda and interpreter Gabriela Schulten meet with potential distributor Maress Supply in Santiago, Chile

At the end of last year, 14 companies from the Tampa Bay area in Florida traveled to Santiago, Chile on a trade mission. Led by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, the companies came armed with market assessments and meeting agendas prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service in Chile. Their mission: to find new export opportunities in Chile.

Joining a trade mission is a great way to learn firsthand about new export markets and meet face-to-face with potential partners and clients. Increasingly, city, state, and regional organizations are teaming up with the U.S. Commercial Service to offer tailored missions for local companies. What is it like to participate in a trade mission? To find out, we recently spoke with two companies that participated in the mission to Chile.

Hydro-Dyne Engineering is a manufacturer of screening and grit removal equipment for water and waste water treatment plants. The company began exporting to help diversify its sales base. Initially, joining the mission was a hard sell to President Jay Conroy. “I was afraid that going down with a government contingency could slow us down and thought we could do it on our own,” said Conroy. “The biggest surprise was how well the mission was organized. Even putting a lot of resources behind it, we wouldn’t have done as good a job on our own.”

Conroy joined the mission with the goal of interviewing and selecting a representative in Chile. For Hydro-Dyne, this kind of long-term commitment is necessary to market its products, provide design and installation support, and build momentum in a market. Conroy was impressed with the quality of the meetings that were scheduled for him. “We went on the mission to find a representative and I am confident we will have one now because of the trip,” Conroy stated. “The icing on the cake was getting to meet with customers who have already asked for proposals on equipment for specific projects.”

His biggest surprise about Chile? How modern it is. “Most water services are privately operated and run like a business looking for a return,” Conroy added.

First Choice Marine Supply designs, manufactures, and distributes solar lighting for the commercial and industrial marine industry, among others. CEO Craig Ruda came across the mission while doing research on expanding to Brazil. He decided to turn his attention to Chile when he learned of the relative ease of doing business there—especially with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Chile in place. “Given the FTA, Chile’s growing economy, and their interest in new, energy efficient technologies, it just made sense,” said Ruda.

Ruda went to Chile looking to gather market intelligence and to meet a diverse client base. For him, nothing beats face-to-face interactions for getting an assessment of the true capabilities of a potential agent and for establishing trust with clients. He was impressed by how comfortable Chilean companies were with importing and surprised by the strength of the infrastructure there. Does he consider the mission a success? “Yes, we met all our objectives,” Ruda said enthusiastically.

After all the time and effort put into exploring markets halfway around the world, has exporting been good for business? “Absolutely. Exporting has increased our sales and allowed us to hire,” says Conroy. Hydro-Dyne has doubled its staff over the last two years as exporting has become a larger part of the company’s sales. Exports have driven growth at First Choice Marine as well. “About 50 percent of our market is served through exports. Every one of our people has relationships in other countries on a daily basis,” Ruda added.

If you would like to explore export opportunities for your company and learn more about upcoming trade missions led by the International Trade Administration (ITA), visit our trade mission page. For trade missions to Latin American FTA markets led by ITA and state and local partners, visit our Look South events page.

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One Year Later, Look South Looking Brighter

January 9, 2015

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

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

As yet another polar vortex bears down on much of the United States, we in the trade community can still find some sunshine in the fresh trade data through November 2014. Our export numbers are up globally, and some bright spots are appearing for trade with our friends to the south one year after launching the Look South initiative — they include:

  • U.S. goods exports to Look South markets (our 11 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner countries in Latin America) increased by $16.0 billion through November 2014, which accounts for more than one-third of the increase in U.S. global exports over the same period in 2013.
  • Despite most being small- and medium-sized economies, these 11 trade partners represent 20.3 percent of total U.S. good exports through November 2014, up from 16.7 percent in 2009.
  • In 2012 (the latest data available), more than 89,000 American companies exported to Look South markets. This is an increase of more than 2,600 from 2011.
  • In particular, Mexico stands out as an excellent place for U.S. companies to look for new opportunities as 1,700 of those 2,600 new firms entered the Mexican market.

Mexico is one hot destination, as goods exported to Mexico rose more than $13 billion through November 2014, an increase of 6.5 percent.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Mexico’s economic growth at 3.5 percent in 2015, which is a sizeable increase from the IMF’s 2014 prediction of 2.4 percent and bodes well for U.S. exports.

Colombia is an emerging export market thanks to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement that entered into force in 2012. U.S. exports to Colombia have increased by $1.8 billion through November 2014, a 10.8 percent increase over the same period 2013. Colombia was also a recent winner in the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business reports, jumping from 53 to 34 to take the top spot for all of Latin America.

The popularity of Latin American FTA markets as export destinations is heightened by improvements in economic growth. According to IMF estimates, in 2014, the top four economic growth performers in the region are Panama, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Colombia, three of which have FTAs with the United States. Strong growth in both the United States and these countries will positively affect one another, helping encourage trade.

Through November 2014, our progress with the Look South Initiative shines. So grab your warm weather gear and Look South for bright new opportunities—don’t forget your shades!

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Major Infrastructure Projects in Mexico: Exporting Opportunities for U.S. Firms

November 14, 2014

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency blog. It also contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Gabriela Morales-Richards is an MBDA Business Development Specialist.

aerial rendering of mexico's airportRecently the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) National Deputy Director, Albert K. Shen, met with Carlos Marron, Senior Investment and Trade Commissioner of ProMexico, to discuss ways to collaborate on upcoming infrastructure projects throughout Mexico.

Over the next four years, the Mexican Government plans to invest more than $600 billion to modernize transport, telecommunications, water, energy, and environment sectors. These infrastructure projects present minority-owned businesses with a unique opportunity to leverage cultural and familial ties, and language capabilities as strong competitive advantages in Latin America markets.

The expansion of the airport in Mexico City was the focus of MBDA’s discussion with ProMexico. The Aeropuerto Internacional de la  Ciudad  de  Mexico (AICM)  is  the  primary airport  in  Mexico,  accounting  for  35 percent of air passenger trips. With two passenger terminal buildings and two non-simultaneous primary runways AICM transports 32 million travelers per year. Foster + Partners of London will design this state-of-the art airport; a company credited with designing airports in China, Jordan, Kuwait, Panama, and the United Kingdom.

The project scope is broken into two planned phases. Phase 1 will include the construction of a new terminal building and three parallel runways capable of simultaneous operation – creating the capacity to support 50 million passengers and 550,000 flights per year. Phase 2 will add three runways for a total of six runways capable of simultaneous operation. The full expansion will support an additional 450,000 flights per year and 70 million additional passengers per year.

The $10 billion mega project is expected to create significant opportunities for U.S. firms. AICM maintains a formal register of pre-qualified vendors. Registration requires substantial documentation including historical financial data, organization charts, lists of past and present Mexican government contracts, and resumes of key personnel. This project has its own website, hosted by the Government of Mexico at http://www.aeropuerto.gob.mx.

If you are interested in receiving additional information, please contact Gabriela Morales, in the Market Access Unit of MBDA’s Office of Business Development.  Also, download the Mexico Project Resource Guide that provides U.S. companies and exporters with an overview of Mexico’s infrastructure sectors, the sector development plans in place through 2018, and to provide profiles of a sample of specific, upcoming projects of potential interest.

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Exporting Might Be the Only Thing Better Than College Basketball

October 30, 2014

The ACC is to college basketball what the Americas are to global export markets.

Chris Higginbotham is a Public Affairs Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs, and a proud UNC alumnus.

Imagine my surprise yesterday…

There I am, walking around the venue for our DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: The Americas business forum, when I walk upstairs and am all-of-a-sudden surrounded by an ESPN crew.

There’s a row of radio reporters on the wall next to me. Bright lights, video cameras, and lots of tall kids.

Our forum shared a venue with the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) college basketball media day. Players, coaches, and staff from some of the nation’s top college basketball programs were right above us.

And the appropriateness of the coincidence struck me last night, because the ACC is to college basketball what the Americas are to global export markets.

I’m an East Coast guy – a North Carolina native – so I don’t say that lightly.

Every year, the ACC is among the top conferences in basketball. Just like how every year, markets throughout the Western Hemisphere present some of the best global opportunities for U.S. exporters.

And as the basketball teams of the ACC compete through the fall and spring, I think that many of the companies here at DISCOVER will be increasing their sales by competing and winning in markets throughout the Americas.

During the next two days, we’ll be helping businesses from 31 states learn about free trade agreements, tariff rates, market opportunities, trade financing, industry trends, e-commerce, and more. We’ll give them the tools they need to gain every advantage when competing in growing markets in the region.

We’re connecting companies directly to a delegation of energy industry buyers from Mexico – a delegation of leaders who know that the quality of U.S. products and services is unmatched in the global market.

If you couldn’t make it to this event, I hope you’ll follow the action and the updates on Twitter using #DGMCharlotte.

You should also look into upcoming DISCOVER events in Atlanta Nov. 5-6, and Minneapolis Nov. 17-18.

Being a U.S. exporter won’t get you drafted in the NBA. There’s no uniform, no conference rivalries, and no fight songs.

But there is opportunity, and that opportunity can take your business to the next level of success.

I hope we’ll see you at an upcoming event, and that we’ll see your business growing through exports very soon.

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