Archive for the ‘Look South’ Category

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2015: A Year of Achievement for Trade and Investment

January 13, 2016

Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

At the beginning of 2015, the President declared during the State of the Union that “the shadow of crisis has passed and the State of our Union is strong.”  Trade and foreign investment play an important role in making our nation strong. The successes we achieved last year to advance our trade and investment agenda prove that very point.  And for many of the successes that occurred in 2015, the International Trade Administration played a critical role.

Under Secretary Selig meets with the Council of the Americas in Mexico to discuss US-Mexico commercial partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Under Secretary Selig meets with the Council of the Americas in Mexico to discuss US-Mexico commercial partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

One headline accomplishment from 2015 was our leadership in securing the first Trade Promotion Authority in 13 years, which will enable the President to conclude important trade agreements. One of these agreements represents another headline achievement: successfully completing negotiations for the largest trade deal in history in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will increase access for U.S. businesses to 11 Pacific Rim markets representing 40% of global GDP.

Last year’s achievements also include the first ever U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, which will serve as the signature bilateral forum for our two countries. We carried out the second “reimagined” U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade(JCCT), where we brought private sector stakeholders into our talks and worked throughout the year to secure real commercial gains. The second ever SelectUSA Summit took place, which convened 2,600 participants from 70 countries to highlight investment opportunities in the U.S. We assisted in concluding the first international tariff liberalizing agreement in nearly 20 years, which will reduce tariffs on U.S. information and communications technology exports valued at $130 billion annually. Finally, after the second cabinet-level meeting of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, several border infrastructure projects that will enhance our collective commercial and security interests were completed or nearly completed.

But by focusing solely on these and other major achievements, we run the risk of overlooking how ITA accomplished its day-to-day responsibilities: advancing the trade and investment interests of the American business community and supporting American jobs. In this case, the numbers alone tell the story.

Last year, ITA assisted more than 25,000 companies with their exporting needs. We supported 42 overseas trade missions to 28 countries, which included the participation of over 500 companies. ITA supported 35 domestic trade shows that brought in 13,500 foreign buyers, while arranging 8,000 meetings during those shows. We initiated a record 62 anti-dumping/counter-vailing duty investigations helping to secure a level playing field for American businesses. Clients of our SelectUSA program—which works to attract foreign direct investment into the U.S.—announced nearly 120 “greenfield” or new investment projects totaling an estimated $7.5 billion and accounting for tens of thousands of jobs. Because of our advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. businesses, we successfully won 79 public-sector contracts with overseas governments, with those projects valued at $45.5 billion with $31.2 billion of U.S. export content. Clients who were directly assisted by ITA saw their exports increase by an average of 23%.

These successes contributed to a U.S. economy that saw a record number of jobs supported by exports (11.7 million as of 2014), which pay 18% higher wages on average, while 6.1 million Americans work for foreign-owned affiliates. All of these successes definitively prove why trade and investment continues to matter to our economy.

So as we look back at 2015, I believe we will see it as our inflection point; the year our country took that dramatic step towards embracing trade and investment as an enduring part of our economic agenda. Perhaps more important than what we accomplished last year, however, was how we accomplished it.

At the same time that we delivered these gains, we maintained our focus on providing best-in-class client service to American exporters: whether it is providing counseling and business matchmaking services, creating top-class commercial intelligence that businesses can access at no cost, leading trade missions, advocating to win projects in foreign markets, or maintaining a level playing field for American businesses here and abroad. Advancing the interests of American workers and businesses is and will remain central to ITA’s mission, and we looking forward to building on our success and working in service of that mission in 2016 and beyond.

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New Opportunities in Colombia

November 24, 2015

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

Laura Ebert is the Colombia Desk Officer in the International Trade Administration.

As a fan of Netflix’s drama series ‘Narcos’, I was both nervous and excited to see just how much Colombia has changed since the days of Pablo Escobar. I visited the country for the first time in July and returned a few weeks ago with John Andersen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. Our goal for the trip was to identify new business opportunities in cities across Colombia. I was impressed by the new, modern Colombia and can confirm that the country has indeed come a very long way. In fact:

  • Colombia is on the verge of completing a historic peace process to end 50 years of civil war.
  • Over the past 20 years, GDP has doubled and foreign direct investment into Colombia was more than $16 billion in 2014
  • The rate of Colombians in extreme poverty has fallen from a high of 21 percent in 2006 to 6 percent in 2013.
  • The country’s young population (25 percent of Colombians are under 14-years-old) means the country is bursting with new ideas, energy, and enthusiasm for the future.

During our visit, I saw many examples of the new and modern Colombia. For example, the city of Barranquilla has become Colombia’s international commercial hub. This city of 2.4 million people on the north Caribbean coast impressed me with its crazy traffic, heavy rains, and multitude of skyscrapers—all under construction. With a thriving port and major waterway, the Magdalena River is a natural hub for commerce. The city looks north, towards the United States, meaning there is a lot of interest in doing business with U.S. companies. Some of the reasons Barranquilla may be the next place a U.S. company does business includes the city’s:

  • Commitment to transparency and good governance.
  • Ambitious new plans and projects, such as a new 34,500 m2 expo center, Puerta del Oro, which means procurement opportunities for U.S. companies.
  • Convenient transportation options including an airport with big plans for expansion.
  • Business opportunities in major industry sectors like metalworking, chemicals and plastics, construction materials, transportation and logistics, internet and telecommunications services, health and pharmaceuticals, tourism and health tourism.

Another great example is Medellin, Pablo Escobar’s hometown. Medellin, a city of 3.4 million people, has transformed into an innovation hub for the country. Recently, Medellin was named the most innovative city of the year by the Wall Street Journal. Innovative clusters have developed in industries such as textile and garment manufacturing and design; business tourism and trade shows; electric energy; construction; medical and dental services; and information and communications technologies. Public, private, and academic partnerships are working together to develop new products. One example is public-private corporation Ruta N, which acts as a center of business and innovation in Medellin. The corporation promotes and develops successful knowledge-based businesses. Ruta N anchors a new technology cluster in the north of the city designed to attract businesses in the areas of science, technology, and innovation, particularly in the health, energy, and telecommunications sectors.

If you think the new Colombia holds promise for your growing business, here’s how to get started:

See you in Colombia!

 

 

 

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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 McKinney@duq.edu. Deadline is September 21st, 2015.
  2. Secure your own booth space at the show. Contact Kathy Arnold of Association of Equipment Manufacturers at karnold@aem.org 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!

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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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