Archive for the ‘Market Access and Compliance’ Category

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Beyond the Border: United States and Canada Enhance Their Trade Relationship

July 29, 2014

Isabel Sackner-Bernstein is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She is studying Strategic Communication at Elon University.

The United States and Canada share more than just a border, and I’m not talking about the dual citizenship of famous pop star, Justin Bieber. The two countries share common values, deep links among their citizens, and deeply rooted economic ties.

To improve this already strong relationship, President Obama and Primer Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border initiative (BTB) in 2011. BTB programs, developed by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will create effective solutions to manage the flow of traffic across our shared borders. The BTB initiative has already helped U.S. travelers and businesses by reducing wait times at the border.

These reduced wait times will also support our trade relationship, reducing the time and cost of shipping goods across the border.

One of the programs linked to this initiative is the NEXUS program. It allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay across the border from Canada or the United States. NEXUS membership has increased by nearly 50 percent since BTB’s announcement in 2011, and NEXUS enrolled its one-millionth member in July 2014.

NEXUS isn’t the only BTB program that is making the U.S.-Canada border crossing easier and more secure. Below are a few of the BTB accomplishments to date:

 So why does the BTB initiative matter to you or your company? Here are some key facts about the U.S.-Canada relationship that help explain the importance of BTB:

The United States and Canada have the largest trading relationship in the world. More than $1 billion in trade cross our shared border each day;

  • Canada is one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in the U.S. economy and vice versa; and,
  • More than 350,000 people cross our shared border each day for work, school, tourism, and to visit family and friends.

Now imagine all those people and products crossing the border every day. BTB is working to make that journey easier for thousands of people so that trade and travel can flourish in both the United States and Canada.

We look forward to the BTB initiative helping Canada become an even more attractive market for U.S. exporters! If you’re ready to explore Canada as a potential market, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center!

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Making It Easier to Clear Customs in Latin America

April 10, 2014

Diana Alvarez recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

More than 40 percent of current U.S. exports go to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Both its geographic proximity and the presence of 11 free trade agreements in the region make these markets attractive for U.S. businesses.

As the U.S. government continues to support businesses expanding in Latin America through the Look South Initiative, one key aspect being addressed is working through potential barriers to trade.

Issues like long customs-clearance times, inconsistent interpretation of customs regulations, and subjectivity of customs inspectors can add to the time and cost of the exporting process. These costs can especially affect small business exporters.

To address these problems, the International Trade Administration is working alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection, governments across Latin America, and other public and private sector partners on the Customs Modernization and Border Management Reform Program.

This program brings business and government together to discuss the challenges faced at the border and to develop solutions that will make clearing customs easier, faster, and more efficient.

The program began in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras and has already helped create a simpler and more efficient border-crossing process:

  • Honduras extended its operating hours at many border posts and harmonized them across the many different border agencies.
  • El Salvador eliminated several administrative requirements for express shipments, saving companies time and money.
  • Costa Rica recently launched its one-stop web portal that will allow companies and government agencies to submit and review all customs-related documents in one place.

As part of a second phase of the program, training workshops and dialogues were held in Peru and the Dominican Republic in March, with events in Guatemala and Uruguay scheduled to take place soon.

We’re excited to see more businesses expand to Latin America under the Look South Initiative, and we look forward to being a part of a smoother trade process under the Customs Modernization and Border Management program.

If you’re ready to increase your business’s presence in Latin America, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center or visit export.gov/looksouth.

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Unraveling Global Aerospace Safety Regulations

March 12, 2014

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Fred Elliot is a Trade Specialist with the Aerospace Team at the International Trade Administration

Have you ever wondered what a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement is and how it can help speed the shipment of U.S. civil aircraft parts to customers overseas? What are “special requirements” other countries have on U.S. exports of civil aircraft parts and how can U.S. suppliers learn about them? What is an “export certificate of airworthiness” and when are U.S. aerospace exporters required to use it? If your response is: “The FAA requires it.”, then you share a common misconception that can be solved through lessons from the International Trade Administration.

These and other questions will be addressed during the Practical Tips for Suppliers of Civil Aircraft and Aircraft Parts to Increase Exports seminar on March 20. The program will help current and future U.S. exporters understand the requirements of the FAA and aeronautical authorities overseas in relation to U.S. civil aerospace exports. James Showman, FAA’s International Policy Branch manager, will be the featured speaker. Other speakers include ITA trade specialists who will be available to meet with individual seminar participants in person or by phone.

This event is being organized in cooperation with the Ohio Aerospace Institute, an ITA partner through the Market Development Cooperator Program. Additional details, including the program agenda and registration application, are available through the Ohio Aerospace Institute
.

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NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide Brings State-of-the-Art Air Traffic Management to Global Clients

September 11, 2013

Jonathan Alvear, an international trade specialist with the Office of Transportation and Machinery in the International Trade Administration, is the author of The NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration has launched a new tool connecting U.S. providers of air traffic management technologies and related services to potential clients across the globe.

The NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide directs users to U.S. manufacturers of Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) technologies that meet the requirements laid out by the United Nations’ International Aviation Organization (ICAO) as well as to related knowledge and service providers.

The Guide:

  • is a web-based resource that addresses current and expected needs regarding air traffic management, airspace capacity, flight path efficiency, enhanced communications and data exchanges, and operational improvements to the airport environment
  • is based primarily on the four Aviation System Block Upgrade (ASBU) performance improvement areas of airport operations, globally interoperable systems and data, optimum capacity and flexible flights, and efficient flight paths
  • also features the knowledge and service providers who can help implement these NextGen solutions and/or provide services and expertise that complement these upgrades.

Because the NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide is mapped to the ASBU requirements, users will have access to a comprehensive listing of the upgrades that ICAO will be formally endorsing this fall matched with links to the websites of the U.S. companies that can help customers fulfill those requirements.

Partnership and Cooperation

The NextGen Solutions Vendors Guide was created in cooperation with Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and companies such as:

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Partnership Helps U.S. Businesses Find Opportunities in Brazil

September 3, 2013

Kit Rudd is the Senior International Trade Specialist responsible for Construction Machinery in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Transportation and Machinery.

Achilles Arbex is the general manager of the Association for Manufacturing Technology's Sao Paulo Technology Center.

Achilles Arbex

Brazil is becoming an increasingly important partner for the United States. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez all visited Brazil in August to discuss growing U.S.-Brazil ties in trade and education.

For U.S. exporters, Brazil’s machinery manufacturing sector represents an attractive opportunity. Taking advantage of that opportunity, however, requires familiarity with the country’s often challenging customs and tariff systems, local content requirements, and legal procedures for establishing a business.

That’s where Achilles Arbex can help. Arbex is the General Manager of the Association for Manufacturing Technology’s (AMT) Sao Paulo Technology Center. The Technology Center is the focal point of a $290,000 Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) award the International Trade Administration (ITA) awarded to AMT.

The award is helping AMT represent and promote the interests of U.S.-based manufacturing technology businesses. AMT supports manufacturers that design, build, sell, and service the continuously evolving technology that lies at the heart of manufacturing.

Our team recently spent five days with Arbex and AMT executives at the FEIMAFE Machine Tools Trade Exposition in Sao Paulo, talking to U.S. exhibitors about how AMT’s Technology Center can help U.S. companies take advantage of opportunities in Brazil.

To help its member companies access emerging global markets more easily, AMT has opened technology centers in Shanghai; Chennai, India; Monterey, Mexico and now Sao Paulo.

AMT’s technology centers provide a variety of services to AMT members, including:

  • Researching and arranging meetings with potential customers
  • Providing comprehensive market and competitive analysis
  • Translation oversight on promotional pieces and technical documents
  • Trade show assistance
  • Negotiation practices

The MDCP award is a competitive program that provides funds to organizations aiming to increase U.S. exports. For every dollar given to an industry by ITA, the industry group must provide two of its own. As part of the award, ITA will work with awardees to help accomplish their mission.

The Department of Commerce recently announced seven recipients of the 2013 MDCP awards. For more information about the awards, including how to apply for future consideration, visit: www.trade.gov/mdcp.

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Interning at ITA, or Getting the Insider’s View on International Trade

July 26, 2013

Emily King is a graduate student at the George Washington University. She completed an internship
in the International Trade Administration’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program this summer
.

Emily King gives a presentation to members of the staff of the Trade Compliance Center.

Emily King gives a presentation to Trade Agreements Compliance Program staff members.

Are you looking for an interesting, challenging internship where you get an insider’s view on international trade?

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is at the forefront of international trade. ITA educates American businesses about the nuts-and-bolts of exporting, and helps U.S. companies to boost exports or enter new markets. The agency is committed to enforcing global trade laws, and developing or implementing policies and programs aimed at countering foreign unfair trade practices. ITA also strives to enhance the export competitiveness of U.S. industry.

The goal is to help American companies compete on a level playing field abroad, increasing their sales and creating jobs here at home.

During my internship, I was part of ITA’s Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC Program) team, which works to break down barriers to market access abroad and monitors and helps promote foreign government compliance with trade agreement obligations. Trade agreements compliance is a pillar of the National Export Initiative (NEI). Since January 2009, the TAC Program has removed more than 420 specific non-tariff barriers affecting a broad range of industries for U.S. companies.

I kept busy reviewing past trade complaints and the actions taken to resolve them, designing new training and outreach materials, including social media content, and preparing management briefings.

One big take-away: I saw first-hand how the U.S. government leverages trade agreements to resolve real-life trade issues.

One instance of this first-hand look was my work on an upcoming video which tells how ITA helped a small California engineering company overcome a foreign government-imposed trade barrier. When this firm, EUR Consulting, was unfairly excluded from competing for a $400,000 Chilean Government procurement opportunity to which it was guaranteed market access under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA), ITA leveraged the FTA to persuade Chile to reconsider EUR’s eligibility. When Chile reversed its initial decision, it opened the door to future government contracts.

Working with the TAC Program to help U.S. companies was a satisfying learning experience.  Meaningful experiences where you can get an insider’s look at international trade issues await you at ITA. Take the first step towards your ITA internship experience today.

(This post was edited on Nov. 25, 2013 to reflect changes in the ITA organization structure.)

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Burma is Opening for Business

July 17, 2013

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

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

After decades of political and economic isolation, Burma is slowly opening to the world. The U.S. government has issued a general license making it easier for American companies to do business there.

While a trade relationship formalizes between the United States and Burma, the International Trade Administration office in Bangkok, an hour’s flight away, will assist U.S. companies with market intelligence and business matchmaking in Burma. Senior Commercial Service Officer Mike McGee recently met with U.S. business leaders interested in exporting to Burma. While in town, he talked with International Trade Specialist Doug Barry of the Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: What are opportunities that you see now in Burma for U.S. companies?

McGee: Burma has a wealth of needs. After 50 years of stagnation and isolation, pretty much everything that the country and the people desire is in need of updating or introducing. So you have a huge opportunity there for everything from consumer goods to infrastructure to medical equipment. There’s almost no sector that does not have tremendous need for introducing new companies and products into the market.

Barry: What are the major challenges of doing business there?

McGee: You can imagine the challenges with a country that has been of off the map, so to speak, for 50-plus years. There are a lot of challenges in the regulatory and legal framework. There are so many areas where the legislation is 50 to 100 years old, and for a better part of the last 40, 50 years, it hasn’t been enforced. Updating these statutes regarding introducing a product into the country, getting it registered, and getting protection for intellectual rights, are all challenges that we’re doing our best to try to support.

Barry: It sounds like an uphill climb.

McGee: The good side is that in many ways Burma is a wealthy country; it is very rich in resources. It is geographically located in one of the most important places in the world, and will have a huge bearing for many years in the Southeast Asia and East Asia Pacific regions. It is, in many ways, the linchpin for so many things.

Barry: The opportunity to get in on the ground floor in this market can be a pretty exciting prospect for U.S. companies, right?

McGee: Yes. We have been advising companies that are interested in this market to identify distributors that can help them introduce their products into the country – and most of them are doing this. One of the big sanction difficulties was financial services. With the recent easing of sanctions by the U.S. government, financial services are now available and U.S. companies can get paid.

Barry: What about distributors?

McGee: Finding the right distributor, finding the right representative for businesses is a little bit of a challenge, but we’re doing our best to try to provide some of the services that people need in order to find the right kind of partner.

The biggest element that we have going is the due diligence process because there still is a fairly sizeable list of people who are prohibited from doing business with us. It’s called the Specially Designated Nationals List managed by the U.S. Treasury Department. We offer our clients an International Company Profile service that allows us to ensure potential Burmese partners are credible and have the appropriate abilities and experience.

Our goal is to help U.S. companies steer clear of partners that may end up causing more problems than assistance.

Barry: What’s the private sector like now? We hear a lot about businesses that are run by the Burmese military. Then there are people of Indian ancestry. There are ethnic Burmese, as well as other ethnic groups.

McGee: The Burmese are a very resourceful people. While there were many sanctions that inhibited doing business with the country, exports from the United States were only sanctioned in certain elements.

There’s a lot of effort on the part of our embassy and the U.S. government in general to persuade the Burmese military to get out of the formal economy because they do manage a huge chunk of it. But there are a lot of other areas where there are businesspeople who are looking for the best products at the best price and the quality that the Burmese people need and want.

Barry: How is the U.S. perceived?

McGee: There’s the highest level of receptivity for U.S. products. We have a very, very positive image in the country. So you’re finding people – whether they’re ethnic Burmese, one of the minority groups, or from the Indian population – they are all seeking the best product lines and want to represent U.S. companies as quickly as possible.

Barry: What was it like for you on your first visit there? Plane lands, door opens…

McGee: It was a lot more vibrant than I expected. There is a great sense of pride among the Burmese people.

However, nearly 75-80 percent of the country is without electricity. Large portions of the nation’s agricultural farms are worked with no machinery. There are beautiful sections of the country – like Bagan in the north – that are ripe for travel and tourism development. The opportunities for U.S. companies to showcase their products and services are limitless.

Barry: What’s your advice for U.S. small- and medium-sized enterprises? Wait a while until things play out and settle down a bit? Or cautiously enter? Or forget about it entirely?

McGee: Begin to learn about it. Visit our website, export.gov/thailand. There’s a section on Burma. We continually update a database that provides links to resources and information our team has gathered about doing business in Burma. You can contact my team through the website to learn about the market, its opportunities, and how to get started. We want to work with U.S. companies to be able to give them the advice from our experience and to make sure that their business is successful and that they don’t run afoul of something problematic.

Barry: Can people contact you directly?

McGee: We are 12 time zones ahead of Washington, and so email me – that’s the best thing to do.

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