Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

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March Madness Earns an A in Economics

March 24, 2014

Chris Higginbotham is a Public Affairs Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

This infographic from the International Institute of Education shows that more than 819,000 international students studied in the United States in 2013.

Institute of International Education. (2013). Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

If you’re anything like me, you spent the weekend locked in front of the television, watching the NCAA Tournament. Hearts were broken (including mine), underdogs were victorious, and former champions were sent packing.

Perhaps the best part of it all is that we were supporting the U.S. economy the entire time!

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but the NCAA Tournament, one of the pinnacle sporting and cultural events in the United States, is a tremendous supporter of several export industries.

One obvious industry the Tournament supports is education. The athletes competing in this event are students representing some of America’s great universities.

The education industry is a huge part of the American economy, supporting jobs and fostering research and innovation.

Education is also a major service export. The United States has some of the world’s best universities, hosting hundreds of thousands of foreign students. Those students pay tuition and living expenses, including room and board, transportation, books, and health insurance. Since most of those expenditures come from sources outside the United States, they are considered exports.

Commerce data show that international students contributed a record $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy, part of a record $682 billion in services exports.

The NAFSA Association of International Educators says that education exports support 313,000 jobs in the United States, a 6.2 percent increase from 2012 and a crucial contributor to our economic growth.

Here are some more key highlights about education exports from the Institute of International Education:

·         A record 819,644 international students studied in the United States in 2012-2013;

·         The top two fields of study for international students are business and engineering;

·         The University of Southern California hosts the most foreign students, at 9,840.

Outside of the classroom, you’ll also see some international students competing on the basketball court.

The standout is Kansas University’s Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian player who was a top basketball recruit last year. There’s also NC State’s Jordan Vandenberg from Australia, UCLA’s Sooren Derboghosian from Iran, and Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa from Canada, among others.

As NAFSA points out, the benefits of international students studying in the United States last a lot longer than the road to the Final Four. Foreign students bring unique perspectives into American classrooms, broadening horizons for everyone involved. The relationships formed and cultural exchanges made help build bridges across borders.

So just remember the next time you watch a game, even if your team loses, you’re helping the U.S. economy win!

For more information about the education industry and how the International Trade Administration supports it, check out our updates on the ITA blog.

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ITA Focused on Expanding U.S. Business Opportunities in Iraq

March 19, 2014

Kevin Reichelt is an International Trade Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Iraq and Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force.

Nearly four years after the end of military operations, Iraq has become an important destination for U.S. merchandise exports. U.S. exports to Iraq topped $2 billion in 2013, and U.S. companies invested more than $1.2 billion in Iraq.

The U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue (USIBD) continues to support expanding the U.S.-Iraq commercial relationship by increasing U.S. exports and creating jobs in both countries.

Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Ken Hyatt and officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Trade convened an USIBD executive committee in Washington on March 4. Their discussion focused on increasing bilateral trade and investment in Iraq.

The USIBD was created in 2006 as an effort to integrate more American firms into the Iraq market. Now in its fourth installment, the USIBD continues to serve as an arena for open communication between U.S. and Iraq’s private sector members.

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U.S. Exporters: ITA Innovators are Here to Help!

March 14, 2014

Aileen Crowe Nandi is a Commercial Officer in San Jose California

As exporters’ needs change, we at ITA must adapt with them. The U.S. government – and our clients – faces myriad issues on a daily basis that require customized solutions. From helping a shipment of apples clear customs in South India to resolving a biotech regulatory barrier in Europe to assisting a small cloud reseller land deals in Ghana, we regularly tweak our services to assist each company with its unique set of issues. A “one-size-fits-all” technique does not apply to international trade.

To capitalize on our entrepreneurial objectives and to share and communicate even better across the Commercial Service (CS) – an organization spanning 100 domestic offices and 72 countries– we launched the Crowdsource (CS2) initiative. CS2 is designed to engage more employees at all levels by enabling them to propose and vote on ideas to change and/or improve how we help U.S. exporters. The winning ideas are then brought to senior agency leaders.

We structured CS2 as a quarterly “Pitchfest” competition, taking a cue from the dynamic venture capital industry. Colleagues are encouraged to submit short written, innovative proposals which are subsequently “crowdsourced” in a democratic voting process. The top three ideas then move on to an oral pitchfest.

The CS2 team, comprised of two International Trade Specialists (Melissa Branzburg, Boston, and Shari Stout, Peoria) and two Commercial Officers (Marianne Drain and myself), represents both the international and domestic units of our organization. Additionally, we have a cross-section of colleagues from HQ and the field (as far as Australia) to serve as “Interested Innovators” to judge the oral pitches to determine the final winner.

We began with the “B2B” theme, as it impacts the very core of how we help U.S. exporters. With fourteen B2B proposals and over 200 voters, the winning idea from the B2B pitchfest was the “Initial Market Check” (IMC), submitted by Heather Ranck in our North Dakota Export Assistance Center.

The IMC entails a fee-based service that would enable exporters to gain critical market insights for individual American companies (in the form of a short report) to determine whether to further pursue export opportunities in a given market. Though Heather had already been innovatively undertaking IMCs for her North Dakota clients, we are working with HQ to formalize the service to allow all colleagues to conduct IMCs for all exporters. Stay tuned for updates!

Our next pitchfest on “Commercial Intelligence” will take place on April 29th. What kind of commercial intelligence do YOU want from ITA? Your input will ensure that we are well positioned to facilitate your success in international markets.

With your input we can better provide the services you need to help your businesses succeed. We look forward to hearing your great ideas!

Aileen Nandi

Melissa Branzburg

Shari Stout

Marianne Drain

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President Obama’s FY 2015 Budget Proposes a $36.7 Million Increase for ITA

March 14, 2014

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.A view of the front of US Department of Commerce Building Washington, D.C.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) staff works diligently to help U.S. businesses – small, medium, and large – sell their products and services across the globe, which helps grow the U.S. economy and improve our global competitiveness. President Obama highlighted the importance of ITA’s work through his FY 2015 budget request.

The President released his fiscal year 2015 budget last week, will full Commerce Department budget information and analyses released today. The FY15 budget included $497.3 million for ITA, which is a $36.7 million increase from the $460.6 million appropriated in 2014. This increase will allow us to better serve American businesses through expanding access to markets, ensuring a level playing field for doing business abroad and helping foreign companies invest in the U.S.

In addition, the budget includes a call from the President to rename ITA the International Trade and Investment Administration, a move that more accurately reflects the mission of our organization and acknowledges our ongoing efforts to attract foreign direct investment to the United States. It also more accurately reflects the mission of ITA and how we help create jobs, not just from exports, but from inward investment.

The United States is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world. In 2012, FDI brought $160 billion into the United States economy. In addition, FDI supported more than 5.6 million jobs in the United States in 2011. That’s 4 percent of our total private sector employment.

The SelectUSA program is the first federal-wide effort to promote and facilitate business investment as an engine for job growth and economic development. It serves as the single point of contact at the national level to help international and domestic firms grow and invest in the United States.

With more money and a more accurate name for our institution, we are confident we’ll help even more American businesses grow and create jobs through our many resources and services! If your business is ready to start exporting or re-shoring, take a look at our website to get started making the most of international markets.

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One Shining BEAM of Export Cooperation

February 14, 2014

Kentucky Mayors Greg Fischer of Louisville and Jim Gray of Lexington launched the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) in 2011. This initiative brings together the 22 counties that include and surround these cities through a strategic partnership, implementing a regional economic development approach for the state’s two largest metropolitan areas.

In 2012, the Mayors followed BEAM with the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years. This focus on exporting is a key aspect of BEAM’s broader goal to promote growth among the region’s businesses.

BEAM is unique among regional export promotion programs in that it is a collaborative effort between two leaders. The mayors’ approach exemplifies their belief that sharing economic growth rather than competing for it, is the best way to build the future for the region.

Research shows that exporting firms – whether in manufacturing or services – grow faster and can afford to pay their workers better than non-exporting firms. By promoting exports, Mayors Fischer and Gray are taking a key step to support better jobs and stronger growth in the region.

Kentucky is already a leader among states in exporting. It is one of 16 states to have broken its own merchandise export record in 2013, having exported more than $25 billion in goods during the year.

Mayors Fischer and Gray were kind enough to answer a few questions about the initiative:

ITA: What role do exports play in the economies of Louisville and Lexington, and in Kentucky overall?

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Louisville, Ky. Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor Fischer: Exports play a critical role in our regional and state economy. Exports throughout our state have surged to all-time highs. We have large companies that are robust exporters such as Ford, Lexmark, and Yum! Brands that sell into markets throughout the world.

However, 90 percent of Kentucky’s exporters are small to mid-sized firms. In total, the BEAM region produced $14.8 billion in exports in 2012, which is a five percent increase from 2011. Our regional exports perform strongly as a percentage of Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP), accounting for 16 percent of GMP in 2012.

We’re ahead of the national average, as U.S. exports in 2012 accounted for 13 percent of national Gross Domestic Product. We’re very pleased with our progress and expect more great results ahead.

ITA: One goal of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement is to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years, measured by the number of companies that expand to new foreign markets or begin selling out of the U.S for the first time. What effects will that kind of expansion have in your cities?

Mayor Gray: Kentucky is primarily made up of small businesses. Many of these companies could be expanding their sales internationally. Two-thirds of Kentucky’s companies have fewer than 20 employees, many of which could be exporting but aren’t or could be exporting to more markets.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington, Ky. Mayor Jim Gray

Our “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” export initiative focuses primarily on small business export expansion. Through this initiative a team has worked with trade partners to conduct effective outreach to a target list of smaller companies, selected for exportability, headquartered location in Kentucky and size. We want these small businesses to know about the locally available trade resources to assist their export needs.

Our team has been able to connect companies to trade education resources, market research opportunities, and information about trade missions and trade shows.

Recently, we announced a $200,000 award from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to create the BEAM-Kentucky Export Promotion program. This one-of-a-kind initiative supports small businesses by providing them financial support to access export and business development resources to expand international sales. You can read more about this work here: http://bit.ly/KyBEAM

ITA: Export expansion has been a major priority under the National Export Initiative. How do initiatives like BEAM translate into national export expansion and improvement in the overall economy?

Mayor Fischer: The National Export Initiative was an inspiration to stakeholders around the country. It set a big goal and inspired many of us to step up our game.

New research has revealed compelling evidence about exports at the metro level. We all know that metro governments are positioned in the new economy to play a pivotal role in fostering innovation, economic development and driving sustainable practices. Metro areas dominate exports at the state level, generating more than 90 percent of exports in 11 states. The BEAM region counts for 53% of the state’s total exports. Here in Kentucky, our Governor organized early following the launch of the NEI to form the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI). The KEI has brought together the state’s leading trade organizations to streamline support for companies  throughout the state. Once the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI) was formed, Mayor Gray and I worked to get added to the cohort of cities working with the Brookings Institution. The MEI afforded us new data tools and a guide on how to develop an export plan suited to our regional goals and pursuits.

All of these initiatives have helped our region and state come together to effectively address problems that have affected businesses. As organizations have worked together to make their resources maximally effective, businesses have received streamlined and accessible support.

ITA: How are other officials throughout the state helping? State officials, local leaders, etc?

Mayor Gray: By partnering with our local U.S. Commercial Service offices in Louisville and Lexington, the World Trade Center Kentucky, our state and regional chambers, along with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Small Business Development Centers, we have received great support from officials and many other organizations throughout Kentucky. Staff for the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative have worked with trade partners to host export educational seminars for chamber and economic development professionals. Outreach has been conducted to businesses around the BEAM region, an effort supported by partners at the local, state and federal levels. This is a collaborative effort and we feel the importance of working with all involved every day.

ITA: What do you say to Kentucky business leaders who aren’t currently exporting?

Mayor Fischer: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “If you’re a small business that isn’t exporting but your competitors are, they are going to eat your lunch.” We operate in a global economy. Exporting is the expectation.

In our region, while we’re known for specializations in bourbon and equine, we also export mattresses, security locks, dental equipment, disco balls and ceiling fans; and more than a few cars and home appliances.

About 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and more than 80 percent of growth is happening outside Europe or North America. If your company wants to be in business ten, twenty years from now, you’re best positioned by having sales in foreign markets. The world is waiting for you.

ITA: Mayors around the country are working hard to support local and regional economies. What’s your advice to them?

Mayor Gray: Invest in small business growth opportunities. Focus on growing what you have in your region and expanding opportunities through intentional and strategic, cross functionally aligned initiatives. Look at models for success. Learn from Mayors and other elected officials who are doing things that work around the country. Spend time with national thought leaders. And set big but realistic goals that are measurable and inclusive.

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Make Your Summer Count with an ITA Internship

January 31, 2014

Chris Higginbotham is a Public Affairs Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs (he used writing samples from his internship to get this job).

Our office in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City is looking for interns with a variety of backgrounds and experience. Image shows the Statue of Liberty.

Our office in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City is looking for interns with a variety of backgrounds and experience. (photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service)

I’ve been there. Many of us have.

It’s January and you’re a college student. Maybe you’re a junior; or maybe you are already in grad school . Either way, there’s a nagging thought in the back of your head:

What am I doing at the end of the semester?

Your friends are talking about internships and they probably sound cooler than anything you’ve thought of, so you make a list…

“Things I want in my 2014 summer internship:

  • Work someplace cool;
  • Make a difference;
  • Get some real-world experience;
  • Utilize and improve my skillset;
  • Work toward getting a job.”

Good news: the International Trade Administration (ITA) can hit all of those bullets.

Want to work someplace cool and help make a difference? We have 108 offices around the country and in 72 countries around the world. We have offices on both sides of the equator and in both hemispheres. If you like the beach, you can apply to work with our teams in Miami, Honolulu, or Lisbon. There’s also always the headquarters here in Washington, D.C., where you could work in offices like the Advocacy Center, the Trade Compliance Office, or  the Office of Public Affairs (I’m biased, but public affairs can be pretty awesome).

Whatever your major is, it probably fits in with a part of the ITA mission. We support U.S. businesses in the global marketplace, so we need students who are studying business, international relations, marketing, communication, foreign languages, regional studies, economics, and more. That means you’ll be able to apply what you’re learning in school to what you’ll be doing on our team.

Perhaps more importantly, an internship with us means you’ll be supporting the U.S. economy. Exports support nearly ten million American jobs – one of which may be your future job. Your work could help a business find a new market to sell its product or services, or could help a company overcome a trade barrier.

So how do you find out all of the internship opportunities ITA has to offer? Our website is a good place to start. Check out all of our office locations, many of which have pages explaining how to apply for internships.

https://twitter.com/TradeGov/status/418454170589749248

You should also follow us on social media, where we’ll be sharing a lot of specific internship opportunities during the next few weeks. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you have questions, those platforms are great places for you to ask!

Best of luck to all of you this semester. We offer internships throughout the year, so keep ITA in mind as you look for a great place to start your career!

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Teaching Veterans the Cadence of Global Business

November 8, 2013

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

Anne Evans and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) pose after Evans was awarded the Department of Defense Reservist and Guard Patriot Award.

Anne Evans and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) pose after Evans was awarded the Department of Defense Reservist and Guard Patriot Award.

If Anne Evans’ 2009 appointment had begun on time, 22 Connecticut veterans might have never had the opportunity to learn about business.

“I was waiting for a meeting and I just started talking to the receptionist in the office,” said Evans, the district director at the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Middletown, Conn. “I couldn’t believe what she was telling me.”

That receptionist’s husband was a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. After retiring from service, he had trouble finding a job because potential employers felt he had no business experience. Knowing something about the Connecticut business community after years of working in international trade, Evans saw an opportunity to help.

She approached leaders in Middletown and throughout the state. She worked with colleges to find student veterans interested in learning about business. Through the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Transition Assistance Program, she brought on her first veteran for an unpaid internship in 2009. Then in 2010, she was able to secure funding for a paid internship in her office.

Since 2009, Evans has brought in a total of 22 student veterans as interns. Her work recently earned her the Department of Defense Reservist and Guard Patriot Award, which recognizes workplace supervisors who have gone out of their way to support members of the military reserves.

There are currently four veterans in her office as part of the program, helping Connecticut businesses increase their exports. The team in place now is reimbursed through a number of state programs.

Also on Evans’ full-time staff is Coast Guard veteran Anthony Sargis, who earned the first paid internship in the Middletown USEAC in 2010.

Evans is proud to point out that every veteran who has interned in her office has gone on to find employment.

“This is really important work,” said Evans, who knows the motto of each branch of the U.S. military. “We’re looking at ways to keep expanding this program. These veterans deserve it.”

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