Archive for the ‘Market Access and Compliance’ Category

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Recognizing the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Colombia TPA

May 15, 2013

Julie Anglin is the Desk Officer for Colombia and Panama in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America. 

Image of a street in Colombia with a map in the background.

The tariff rate on many U.S. goods sold in Colombia has gone down dramatically since the trade agreement took effect.

The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement – commonly called the “Colombia TPA” – took effect one year ago on May 15, 2012.

Prior to the TPA’s entry into force, the average Colombian tariff rate on U.S. industrial goods was higher than 10 percent. Today, the average Colombian tariff on these goods has fallen to only 3.4 percent.

That’s a tremendous benefit for U.S. exporters, as it helps them compete on a more level playing field in the Colombian market. U.S. farmers see even greater benefit, as more than half of current U.S. farm exports to Colombia are now duty-free.

The TPA includes commitments on strengthened protections for intellectual property rights benefiting American creators and innovators, as well as commitments opening Colombia’s $166 billion services market.

U.S. exporters are taking notice. Since the Colombia TPA has been in place, U.S. exports to Colombia are up 19 percent, compared to the same period the previous year.

U.S. companies are now well-situated to participate in numerous Colombian infrastructure projects to be undertaken in the next four years, valued at $26 billion. In fact, Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank is in Colombia right now, leading a trade mission of 20 U.S. companies seeking to learn more about upcoming airport, seaport, rail, highway, and mass transit upgrades.

For a country that already appreciates the value proposition of U.S. goods and services, the TPA now allows U.S companies to be even more competitive in this fast-growing market. Colombia’s economy is forecast to grow 4.1 percent in 2013, and 4.5 percent annually on average from 2014 to 2018.

A web-based resource created by the International Trade Administration, the FTA Tariff Tool, is a great way to see the tariff elimination or reduction for your product under the agreement.

To ensure that your company’s product will benefit under the agreement, you will also need to determine that the product meets one of the rules of origin criteria in the Colombia TPA and claim this when importing. You can contact an Export Assistance Center for help with this.

And sometimes, despite the trading partner’s best endeavors to implement trade agreements correctly, U.S. exporters and investors can encounter problems. The International Trade Administration’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program can help sort out market access problems arising from foreign government-imposed trade barriers. Report a trade barrier at www.trade.gov/tcc.

For more information, you can also contact your local Export Assistance Center. You can also find more facts about our trade relationship on our website.

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March Madness and ITA’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program

March 25, 2013

Steve Williams is the Operations Team Lead with the International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center 

So far in this year’s NCAA Tournament, we’ve International Trade Administration emblemseen several underdogs knock out the proverbial Goliath. As a small business owner, you might feel at times like an underdog. Just like Wichita State, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast, who have to compete against schools with bigger budgets and more highly touted recruits, small businesses can feel at a disadvantage when they compete overseas against companies who have a home-court advantage. It might seem intimidating, but just like these teams in the Sweet 16, you can come out on top with the right strategy.

If your company’s export goals are ever impeded by a foreign government-imposed trade barrier, you can call on the International Trade Administration’s Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC) Program to come into the game.  The TAC Program works to help remove the trade barriers you face. Since the inception of the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, the Program has initiated 735 market access and compliance cases in 104 countries, successfully removing 293 specific non-tariff barriers (in 80 countries) affecting a broad range of industries.

As a recent example, the International Trade Administration (ITA) helped Johnson Outdoors, a sporting goods manufacturer based in Wisconsin, regain ownership of its trademark in Russia. A Johnson Outdoors competitor registered the Johnson Outdoors’ trademark with Russia’s patent office and then attempted to sue Johnson Outdoors for alleged violation of the trademark. ITA spoke with Russian officials about proper protection of IPR. This resulted in the Russian company dropping its suit against Johnson Outdoors and relinquishing its trademark, allowing Johnson Outdoors to maintain $100 million in annual revenue.

Our program works by assembling a small team of experts from our 400 specialists, experts both in the country and the trade agreement relevant to your specific issue.  We can assist in helping to remove or reduce discriminatory or unnecessary trade restrictive barriers related to customs, rules of origin, government procurement, investment, services or standards testing, licensing, certification requirements, or even issues related to intellectual property rights. Best of all, our services are completely free of charge!

The next time you need some help with a foreign government trade barrier, contact us and we’ll be in your court.

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Expanding Business One Year into Free Trade Agreement

March 15, 2013

Curt Cultice is a Senior Communications Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service.

Jimmy Wu is the founder of Infinity Air

Jimmy Wu

It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, and there’s excitement on Jimmy Wu’s face as he hangs up the phone. Cracking a smile, he logs an order for a replacement aircraft engine from Asia. “Business is good and continues to get better,” he says, before picking up the phone to chat with another customer in Latin America.

It’s all in a day’s work for Wu, a native of Shanghai, China, who founded Infinity Air, Inc., in 1997, and serves as its president and CEO. The firm, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer and distributor of new and refurbished aircraft parts for the commercial aerospace industry, serves thousands of customers around the world each year.

Of all the countries in which Infinity Air does business, Wu is particularly impressed with the opportunities in Korea, Infinity Air’s largest export destination. Last year, sales of everything from flight-service controls and engines to interior equipment and cockpit windows to Korea totaled more than $10 million.

In March 2011, the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement took effect, reducing barriers to trade and putting what Wu calls a “spring in the step” of his business endeavors. Infinity Air is taking advantage of the agreement to expand its business in the country.

“Korea is a huge market for us, and with the trade agreement in place, the market just got a whole lot bigger,” Wu says.

An Allflight Corporation (Infinity Air’s Repair Station) technician sands a repair of a movable flap track fairing in preparation for prime and paint.

A technician prepares a repaired aircraft part for painting.

Trade agreements play a large part in America’s recent growth trend in exports. In 2012, a year in which the U.S. achieved exports of $2.2 trillion, exports to trade agreement partners grew at nearly twice the rate of exports to the rest of the world and represented nearly half of all U.S. exports. For the U.S.-Korea agreement, the International Trade Commission estimates that the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on goods alone will add $10 billion to $12 billion to annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product and around $10 billion to annual merchandise exports to Korea.

Infinity Air is one of many companies using the agreement to its advantage. Prior to the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, servicing Korea’s aviation market required payment of Korean tariffs of up to 15 percent on spare parts. Now, almost 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Korea are no longer subject to import duties. Nearly 95 percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products with Korea will become duty free within five years – with most remaining tariffs eliminated within 10 years.

As this trade agreement matures, the International Trade Administration remains ready to help American companies tap into Korea’s $1.1 trillion economy. Whether your company is looking to grow business or seek new opportunities in the market, a visit to export.gov is a great way to start.

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ITA Program Tackles Trade Obstacles

March 4, 2013

Beverly Vaughan is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center.Screenshot of Trade Compliance Center website

The International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC) Program works to break down barriers to market access abroad and monitors and helps promote foreign government compliance with trade agreement obligations. TAC Program officers identify, investigate, and resolve trade barriers working with industry. By leveraging relevant trade agreements, ITA engages foreign governments to remove or mitigate barriers to trade as quickly as possible.

While all U.S. exporters or investors can use this free service to resolve their market access barriers, the TAC Program can be particularly valuable for small and medium-sized exporters (SMEs), who may lack the resources to combat such barriers.

Exporters and investors can report a barrier on-line to get help quickly from the program. View a TAC Program client success video to learn how to use the online reporting form and see how we assisted a small business exporter overcome barriers preventing it from accessing the Chinese market. Our actions helped to preserve a contract valued at $8.5 million and set a precedent that helps ensure that the full benefits of our international trade agreements are open to U.S. industry.

This company, Klinge Corporation of York, Pennsylvania, contacted the TAC Program’s Hotline after holding unproductive meetings with Chinese freight forwarders and customs officers. TAC Program officers worked with China’s Certification and Accreditation Administration, who intervened on Klinge’s behalf, emphasizing China’s World Trade Organization obligations with other Chinese officials.  In a matter of months after the initial contact with the TAC Program, Klinge obtained the necessary certification to access the Chinese market.

This successful operation isn’t an exception. In Fiscal Year 2012, ITA initiated 227 trade barrier investigations in more than 70 countries, of which 44 percent (100 cases) were on behalf of SMEs like Klinge. During that time, TAC Program officers closed 168 cases in 62 countries, 53 percent of which (89 cases) were closed successfully.  See how ITA has helped U.S. companies overcome foreign trade barriers.

Can the TCC help you overcome a trade barrier? Let us know if you are having trouble getting access to a foreign market.

 

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U.S. Exporters Set to Reap Benefits of Russia’s Accession to the World Trade Organization

February 7, 2013

Matthew Edwards is Director, and Christine Lucyk is Senior Policy Advisor, in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

As 2012 drew to a close, Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank joined President Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, members of Congress, and representatives of the business community at the White House to mark a historic event in U.S.-Russia economic relations – the signing of legislation authorizing the President to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia. Calling the legislation a “win-win for American businesses and workers,” Blank hailed the legislation as a crucial step to ensure that U.S. businesses can compete on a level playing field and enjoy in full measure the increased access to Russia’s growing market which Russia extended through its agreement to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

These are benefits that the U.S. Government, in consultation with Congress and American manufacturers, farmers and service-providers as well as fellow with WTO members, worked hard to achieve, through intensive negotiations, and with bipartisan support by successive U.S. administrations, culminating in Russia’s accession to the WTO in August 2012.

What does this mean for the future? For context, as one of the world’s larger emerging markets, Russia has been playing a growing role in U.S. trade and investment, in particular as a market for U.S. goods. In 2012, American exports to Russia rose approximately 25 percent over 2011’s level, growing more than five times as fast as U.S. exports to the world as a whole. More exports means support for more American jobs.

U.S. exporters stand to benefit further from greater and more predictable market access, as tariffs fall in line with Russia’s commitments to reduce and bind tariffs on many industrial products. In the past, Russia was able to increase tariffs without limit. As a result of its WTO commitments, Russia’s tariffs will be bound at an average rate of about seven percent. U.S. exports in key sectors like information technology, civil aircraft, chemicals, agricultural products and many types of capital goods and equipment will see significant tariff benefits.

In the past, U.S. service providers were excluded from many sectors or faced barriers in those sectors where they were allowed to operate. Russia’s market access and national treatment commitments provide new opportunities in telecommunications, computer services, express delivery, distribution, financial services and audio-visual services.

Russia’s commitments on non-tariff measures, including obligations to abide by WTO rules on technical barriers to trade, subsidies, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, will limit Russia’s ability to take certain kinds of arbitrary actions, such as SPS and other measures that have restricted U.S. exports of meat and poultry, spirits, and dairy products.

Russia’s trade environment also should continue to benefit over time from commitments in the area of transparency. U.S. exporters have in the past come up against laws and regulations adopted without adequate opportunity for input from interested parties or without reliable information about regulations on trade in a given product or industry. Under the WTO, Russia is obligated to apply WTO rules on transparency, including formal establishment of notice and comment procedures for proposed measures affecting trade in goods, services and intellectual property and requirements to provide decisions in writing and new rights of appeal.

As the volume and breadth of U.S.-Russia trade grows, establishing PNTR has provided the U.S. with more tools and the leverage to hold Russia accountable for the obligations it has undertaken, and to defend U.S. economic interests in Russia’s market. In the coming months, the International Trade Administration plans to step up our outreach to advise U.S. industry of new opportunities in Russia’s market – as well as its remaining challenges. These challenges still can be considerable, as indicated in the World Bank’s most recent “Doing Business” rankings, where despite jumping eight places in the rankings, Russia placed 112th out of 185 economies surveyed.

The Commerce Department will be working under the U.S.-Russia Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group (part of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission) to continue to bring U.S. business interests to the fore in discussions with our Russian counterparts on ways to further expand this growing trade relationship in ways that benefit U.S. industry and U.S. workers.

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U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement To Enter Into Force October 31

October 25, 2012

Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Follow him on Twitter @UnderSecSanchez.

The wait is over. On October 31, 2012, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) will go into effect, guaranteeing American access to one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and supporting American jobs and U.S. competitiveness.

Panama’s nearly $22 billion services market. This is yet another big step for our country, as it is an integral part of the President’s efforts to increase opportunities for U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers through improved access for their products and services in foreign markets. The Panama TPA supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

The Agreement with Panama is one that holds significant potential for the future of American exports. Panama’s economy expanded over 10.6 percent in 2011, and is forecast to continue high annual growth through 2017.  The TPA will ensure that U.S. firms have an opportunity to participate on a competitive basis in the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project. Panama’s strategic location as a major shipping route and the massive project underway to expand the capacity of the Canal enhances the importance of the U.S.‐Panama TPA.  Panama’s government has also announced almost $10 billion in additional infrastructure projects, and the agreement will help U.S. companies and workers benefit from these opportunities.

The U.S.-Panama TPA will eliminate or reduce trade barriers to U.S. exports to the Panamanian market as well as create a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment. This will result in a level tariff playing field and more job opportunities in America. U.S. industrial goods currently face an average tariff of 7 percent in Panama, with some tariffs as high as 81 percent. U.S. agricultural goods face an average tariff of 15 percent, with some tariffs as high as 260 percent. This is all about to change.  As of October 31, when the Agreement enters into force, U.S. exporters to Panama will experience the immediate beneficial effects of the TPA in the drop to zero of tariffs on industrial goods such as computers and IT equipment, agricultural and construction products, medical and scientific equipment, pharmaceuticals, and environmental products.  Agricultural product exporters will also enjoy the immediate benefits of duty-free treatment on this date, particularly for the following products:  high-quality beef, frozen turkeys, sorghum, soybeans, almost all fruit and fruit products, wheat, peanuts, whey, cotton, and many processed items.

The Agreement with Panama will give America access to Panama’s nearly $22 billion market for services, including in priority areas such as financial, telecommunications, computer, distribution, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services. I urge everyone to visit http://trade.gov/fta/panama to review industry-specific and state-by-state opportunity reports between the U.S. and Panama in the recent years . Without a doubt, this TPA will play a tremendous role in increasing exports and continuously supporting American businesses.

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Workshop Shows Exporters How to Overcome Barriers to International Trade

October 24, 2012

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

Skip Jones is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Agreements and Compliance.

Assistant Secretary Michael Camunez delivers keynote speech at the Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers Workshop at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Assistant Secretary Michael Camunez delivers keynote speech at the Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers Workshop at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. products are the most sought-after products in the world.  However, U.S. companies sometimes have problems selling their products abroad. They encounter various foreign government-imposed trade barriers such as unfair technical requirements, discriminatory government procurements, or unfair customs valuation practices. In many cases, these difficulties represent a country’s not honoring its trade agreement with the United States.

To address these difficulties, the U.S. Department of Commerce operates the “Trade Agreements Compliance Program.”  Representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered participants expert advice at a “Workshop to Defeat Foreign Trade Barriers” in Washington, DC, and explained how to take advantage of this free Commerce program.

The day-long event was organized by the National District Export Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It featured numerous panels, roundtables and keynote addresses.

The speakers discussed current trends in foreign non-tariff barriers, and the government programs and policies available to combat them.


Download full video .mp4 (22MB)

The message was clear: The U.S. government is doing everything it can to help American businesses overcome these barriers as quickly as possible. As the Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sánchez, stressed in his remarks to the audience :

“Trade agreements can serve as powerful export multipliers, but they need to work properly to reach their full promise,” he said.  “The Commerce Department intends to do its part to see that they do. Let us know when you encounter trade barriers abroad. Work with us so we can remove them as quickly as possible so that your job-creating exports can flow to foreign markets unhindered, just as they should.  ITA’s Trade Agreements Compliance program is a terrific, free resource for U.S. exporters encountering these trade barriers.”

In addition to Under Secretary Sánchez, over 30 speakers offered their insight to the participants – among them, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, Michael Camuñez, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, Ambassador Chuck Ford.

U.S. companies are highly successful in international markets, if they can compete on a level playing field. Efforts like today’s workshop, as well as the underlying work of all U.S. government agencies, help ensure that is the case.

If your business encounters a trade barrier, please visit http://tcc.export.gov/Report a Barrier for assistance.

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Understanding U.S. Trade Rules and Regulations

May 16, 2012

Import Administration enforces the U.S. unfair trade laws (i.e., the anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws) and develops and implements other policies and programs aimed at countering foreign unfair trade practices.

Unfair foreign pricing and government subsidies distort the free flow of goods and adversely affect American business in the global marketplace. When that happens, the International Trade Administration can take enforcement actions. ITA’s Import Administration is the agency’s lead unit on enforcing trade laws and agreements to prevent unfairly traded imports and to safeguard jobs and the competitive strength of American industry.

Following U.S. law, regulation, and consistent with international trade rules, the Department of Commerce has the authority to conduct investigations of the alleged subsidization or dumping of foreign products sold in the United States.

If a U.S. industry believes that it is being injured by dumped or subsidized imports, it may request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties by filing a petition with both the Department of Commerce and the United States International Trade Commission (ITC).

If Commerce determines that a petition satisfies all requirements under the law to initiate an investigation, the agency will publish a Notice of Initiation in the Federal Register. The Notice of Initiation will lay out a general history of the proceeding, including dates of official filings as well as the scope of the investigation, explain how Commerce went about making a determination of industry support, and details how the petitioners went about estimating the existence of dumping or subsidization.

The ITC determines whether the domestic industry is suffering material injury (or the threat thereof) as a result of the imports under investigation. In so doing, the ITC considers all relevant economic factors, including the domestic industry’s output, sales, market share, employment, and profits.

If both Commerce and the ITC make affirmative findings of dumping and/or subsidization and injury, Commerce instructs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assess duties against imports of that product into the United States. The duties are normally assessed as a percentage of the value of the imports and are equivalent to the dumping and subsidy margins.

Commerce conducts its investigations in accordance with statutorily mandated deadlines and in an open and transparent manner with full opportunity for interested parties to provide relevant information and defend their interests.  These investigations proceed on the basis of an administrative record on which all information and arguments relevant to the decisions are placed.  Preliminary and final determinations are made on the basis of this record, reflecting the parties’ responses to Commerce questionnaires, the on-site verification of such responses in the foreign country, case briefs and arguments made by the parties and, where requested, public hearings.  The investigation results are also subject to probing domestic judicial review and must be consistent with WTO rules.

Visit Import Administration for more information on Department of Commerce’s investigation procedures.

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ACCESS 2011

April 28, 2011

Judy Reinke is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s Senior Commercial Officer in India.

Hello from Houston, which has been the site of this year’s ACCESS 2011 conference, the largest trade promotion program of the U.S. Commercial Service focused on opportunities in the Africa, Near East and South Asia region. Well over 200 companies joined this two day conference to learn all about business practices and prospects in these fast-growing, yet challenging markets. The event featured fresh insights from 18 Senior Commercial Officers based in such key markets as South Africa, India, Nigeria, the UAE and others, as well as lively presentations from experts who have succeeded in doing business throughout this region and representatives of other U.S. Government agencies, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Adminstration. The personal experiences shared by the Senior Commercial Officers in Egypt and Libya, who lived through the recent revolutions in those countries, held the crowd spellbound and helped the audience understand the depth of insight they can gain from all of the officers located in these markets in transition. A highlight of the speaker program was a keynote address by the Director General of the U.S. Commercial Service, Suresh Kumar, who described how the U.S. Government is coordinating efforts to help U.S. business achieve their exporting goals, and thereby meet the objectives of President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

I’m Judy Reinke, representing the U.S. Commmercial Service in India, and I can tell you that there was a huge amount of interest in exporting among the participating U.S. firms, which was extremely encouraging to those of us who are committed to helping our companies increase America’s exporting profile in order to create and sustain jobs in this country. While at the ACCESS conference, I not only joined several Commercial Service colleagues at the podium, speaking to a packed ballroom about the India market, but I also the opportunity to meet privately with 18 companies with specific questions about how the Commercial Service could help them with their market entry strategy and other business issues in India. I was impressed with the qualifications of these firms, many of whom are ready to export (and a few who are already in India, and looking to expand). One firm want to know how best to ensure the qualifications of a firm with whom they may enter into an assembly agreement, shipping core components from the United States – I had the opportunity to describe the International Company Profile that my office can carry out to provide background on the India firm, including information on the firm’s financial standing based on public records and a reputation check with key contacts carried out by my staff. This is an important component of due diligence that helps U.S. firms make an informed decision before entering into an agreement with an Indian firm. Several firms, including companies in fields as diverse as the defense equipment and fashion industry, were interested in finding partners to represent them in India. That is a core expertise of the staff in all of the Commercial Service offices located in 77 countries abroad. The local staff, using their extensive database of business contacts, carry out partner searches – either in the form of an International Partner Search (carried out on behalf of the U.S. client firm without the need for travel to the country) or a Gold Key Appointment Service (a targeted appointment service for U.S. business visitors which has been our flagship service for the last 20 years). I’m sure several of the firms I talked to will be in the Indian market before this year is out!

The feedback I got form the firms I talked to during ACCESS 2011 was tremendous. Many are ready to enter new markets NOW, and I know my staff back in India are eager to work with them. As for me, Houston has proven to be a city with huge export potential, and I hope I’ve helped a number of companies there plan out the next steps in their exporting strategy. Now, I’m ready to move on to New Orleans, where I have more firms to meet and a chance to meet with a business delegation from India. I look forward to sharing my experiences from this next stop on my whirl-wind trip very soon!

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