Archive for the ‘Trade Missions’ Category


Exporting: Mission Possible – Two Companies’ Stories

March 3, 2015

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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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Cyber Security in Central and Eastern Europe: business opportunities and challenges explored in upcoming webinar and trade mission

February 9, 2015

Gemal Brangman is a Senior International Trade Specialist in ITA’s Trade Promotion Programs office; and a member of the U.S. Commercial Service Global ICT Team.

Pompeya Lambrecht is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Northern Virginia; is a member of the U.S. Commercial Service Global ICT Team, and leads the Cyber Security sub-team.

Cyber security plays an important role in ensuring the protection of an organization’s vital security properties against security risks in the ever-expanding cyber environment. The damaging effects of cyber threats can be felt throughout many levels in a business or organization, and the effects can quickly spill over across borders. It is because of these threats that nations in Central and Eastern Europe have begun to dedicate more federal government and private sector resources to deal with these complex cyber threats. The increase in resources is evident in the innovations and demand for cyber defense equipment and service technologies.

Recent events in Central and Eastern Europe have heightened the importance of improving cyber security protection. As a result, governments across the region have made cyber security a policy priority, creating task forces and working closely with the United States government to improve their defenses. With the ascending growth, sophistication, and intensity of cyber-attacks in recent years, strict compliance and unified security packages are in demand to protect the critical data, infrastructure, and safety of governments, military, public utilities, banking, financial services, ports, hospitals, and other businesses.

Due to the importance of the cyber security industry in Europe, the International Trade Administration (ITA) is organizing an executive-led Cyber Security Business Development Mission to Poland and Romania from May 11-15, 2015. The purpose of the mission is to introduce U.S. firms and trade associations to Central and Eastern Europe’s information and communication technology security, and critical infrastructure protection markets. In addition, the mission will look to assist U.S. companies in finding business partners and exporting their products and services across the region.

During the trade mission, participants can also take advantage of ITA’s Commercial Service network to arrange matchmaking opportunities with companies and governments in the region that are participating in the program.

The U.S Commercial Service will help U.S. exporters better understand the business opportunities and challenges in this dynamic market through a webinar on Cyber security opportunities in Poland, Romania, and other neighboring countries on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 11 a.m. EST. The webinar will provide a market overview and highlight key opportunities and challenges to help U.S. exporters working in a various countries including Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, and Romania.

Apply for the Cyber Security Trade Mission at

Register today for the webinar at


African Ambassadors Make the Case for U.S. Companies to Do Business in Africa

February 5, 2015

Bill Fanjoy is the Director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Northern Virginia.

H.E. Ambassador Girma Birru of Ethiopia discussed the bilateral benefits of U.S.-Africa trade at a networking event with business leaders at the Embassy of Ethiopia.

H.E. Ambassador Girma Birru of Ethiopia discussed the bilateral benefits of U.S.-Africa trade at a networking event with business leaders at the Embassy of Ethiopia.

It was our honor for the International Trade Administration to join the Virginia-Washington D.C. District Export Council and Ambassadors from three of Africa’s fastest-growing economies at a recent networking event focused on U.S. companies doing business in Africa.

The message from the Ambassadors from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania was loud and clear: “We are ready for your business to come to Africa.”

It’s not just these Ambassadors who think your business should be looking at Africa. The facts support them:

  • Six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa.
  • Consumer spending is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, up from $860 billion in 2008.
  • Programs like Trade Africa and Power Africa under the President’s Doing Business in Africa campaign make it easier than ever for U.S. companies to take advantage of opportunities.
  • Demand is growing across sectors, from infrastructure to mining to retail.

That’s why we were glad to be a part of this networking event, and why we’re taking it a step further this year with Trade Winds—Africa, the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to Africa.

Participating in Trade Winds is a great opportunity to connect your business directly to opportunities in eight of the continent’s most promising markets. Our team will introduce you to the government leaders you need to know, connect you with the most qualified local partners, and provide you with the market insight to put you on the right track.

With Africa’s steady supply of resources, a growing population, an expanding consumer base, and increasing demand across sectors, there’s opportunity for almost any company—and there are a number of ways for you to take advantage:

Still not convinced? Stay tuned for details on an upcoming networking event at the South African Embassy, and let more African ambassadors tell you the truth—that Africa is ready for your business, and that there are few markets in the world as ready to help take your business to the next level.

(This post was edited on February 9, 2015 to include a link to the Doing Business in Africa website.)


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Concludes Her First Trade Mission in Mexico

February 10, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Secretary Pritzker is joined by U.S. Ambassador Wayne and Mexico's Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during her trade mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.

Secretary Pritzker is joined by U.S. Ambassador Wayne and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during her trade mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.

On Friday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded her five-day trade mission in Monterrey, the largest business center in Mexico after Mexico City.

Among her many trade mission events, Secretary Pritzker met with Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, Mayor of Monterrey, and Jose Luis Pier Castello, President of Lowe’s Mexico – one of the leading hardware chains in the world – to highlight the importance of promoting corporate social responsibility and to recognize Lowe’s and other American companies doing business in Mexico for their focus on these efforts. At a Lowe’s store in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker expressed her appreciation for employee volunteerism and acknowledged the importance of companies’ involvement in the communities in which they operate.

After Lowe’s opened its first two stores in Monterrey in 2010, the company, began looking for ways to get involved in the Monterrey community. The company has since supported local schools with donations, volunteer time, and construction expertise. Secretary Pritzker said that Lowe’s commitment to the Monterrey community reflects the values of many American companies that invest in Mexico, and that U.S. companies are committed to staying active in the region.

In addition to meeting with Mexican government officials in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker met with employees at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey as well as the Department of Commerce’s Monterrey team, thanking them for their public service and for their assistance in promoting Mexican investment in the United States.

Last week’s trade mission, which also included a visit to Mexico City, provided the 17-company business delegation with opportunities to establish relationships that will help promote their technologies and services in Mexico’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector to support job creation in both countries. The mission also allowed Secretary Pritzker to focus on two of her main priorities as Commerce Secretary – helping U.S. businesses export goods and services and encouraging investment in the U.S.

Mexico is one of the United States’ largest trading partners, and the United States will continue building and strengthening relationships with its southern neighbor.

Learn more about this trade mission, and read about other highlights of the Secretary’s trip, including her meetings with Mexican government officials, her speech at a breakfast event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Mexico-United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC), and her remarks at the Mexico Chamber for Industrial Transformation of Nuevo Leon and Cintermex Luncheon.

Secretary Pritzker’s next trade missions include trips to the Middle East from March 8-14 with stops in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and to West Africa May 18-23 with stops in Ghana and Nigeria.


Look South Campaign Focuses on U.S. Export Potential

February 5, 2014

Moshtayeen Ahmad recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

Favorable market trends in Latin America make the region an excellent potential market for your business’s products and services. These countries all enjoy open and regionally integrated economies and growing middle classes.

That’s why Commerce Secretary Pritzker is in Mexico on a business development mission – Mexico can be a great destination for your products and services, and a launching pad into more markets in the region.

The Department of Commerce’s Look South campaign is helping even more U.S. companies enter these markets and identify new opportunities in high demand industries.

Bilateral trade data shows that there is tremendous unmet potential for diversifying U.S. exports to Latin America. These countries are rapidly modernizing their industries and broadening their consumer base.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), there are many opportunities in sectors where U.S. goods and services are highly desired. Some are highlighted in our most recent Country Commercial Guides, including medical equipment, agricultural equipment, franchising, and environmental technologies. SMEs have the opportunity to become globally competitive in many of these industries, but often are the least likely to be aware of opportunities beyond Mexico.

The Look South campaign takes advantage of already existing resources like local U.S Export Assistance Centers and commercial experts in each Look South market. Services include assistance in picking the right market for your business, getting your goods ready to ship, and understanding regulations in each country. Businesses can attend trade events that bring U.S. companies and foreign buyers together to expand on opportunities. The U.S. Commercial Service also offers guidance on trade financing assistance.

To get more detailed information on the best prospects and market intelligence for each sector in the Look South countries, visit our website.

You can also visit the Market Research Library (MRL) for a complete collection of all our market research, including our Country Commercial Guides, Best Market Reports and Market Research Reports.

Our team is standing by to help your business find success in Latin America. Find out how we can help!


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Begins First Official Trade Mission in Mexico

February 3, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.Infographic shows that current trade in goods with Mexico is eight times what it was in 1990

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker officially began her five-day trade mission to Mexico today, starting the trip in Mexico City. She is joined by representatives from 17 U.S. companies looking to expand partnerships and develop effective strategies for accessing and doing business in the Mexican market.

The focus of this trade mission is to promote U.S. exports to Mexico by helping export-ready U.S. companies launch or increase their business in a number of key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and health IT and medical devices. The companies joining the Secretary address the demand of these growing industries in Mexico.

“The 17 companies who have joined me on this important mission represent the best of American business. These outstanding and innovative companies understand that selling American products overseas is a crucial component to growing and creating jobs,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said.  “I am delighted we can help these companies expand their presence in Mexico through this business development mission.”

The U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship is among the United States’ closest and most extensive in the world and one of the reasons it was selected by Secretary Pritzker as the destination for her first trade mission. Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, and approximately $1.3 billion of merchandise trade and one million people cross the 2,000 mile shared border daily. In addition, deeply integrated supply chains in North America and an established free trade agreement make it easy for Mexico and the U.S. to do business with one another.

The Department of Commerce recognizes that there is incredible potential for both countries to deepen their economic relationship and for U.S. and Mexican companies to do business together. With common values and shared aspirations for prosperity, it is a crucial relationship for both nations, and with Canada’s involvement, it can help make the North American platform the most competitive in the world.

During her trade mission to Mexico, the Secretary will meet with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Wayne, Secretary of Finance Luis Videgaray, Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Secretary of Communications and Transportation Gerardo Ruis Esparza, Minister of Health Mercedes Juan Lopez, state and city government officials, and CEOs of Mexican and U.S. companies.

Additional details about the Secretary’s mission to Mexico City and Monterrey will be announced in the coming days.


Upcoming Trade Mission Highlights Key U.S. Economic Partnerships

January 13, 2014

Headshot of Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council.

Danny Sebright is President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council.

The Middle East is an excellent regional market for U.S. companies looking for opportunities overseas. U.S. merchandise exports to the region have grown by more than 50 percent since 2009, totaling $69.6 billion in 2012.

To help American companies achieve further success in the region, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is leading a business development mission to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to help American companies learn about potential opportunities and make important contacts with business and government leaders.

We spoke with Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, to get perspective on our important economic relationship with the U.A.E. and the Middle East as a whole. The Council is committed to the advancement of the commercial relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and it has made trade and foreign direct investment one of its key priorities in its advocacy efforts.

ITA: It looks like trade between the United States and the United Arab Emirates has risen pretty dramatically since 2010 – exports to the U.A.E. have almost doubled and imports from the UAE have more than doubled. Are there any specific catalysts for that trend? Do you expect continued growth?

Sebright: This rise began even before 2010, with the U.A.E. serving as the largest export market for U.S. goods and services in the broader Middle East, from Marrakesh to Bangladesh, for the last five years running. U.S.-U.A.E. trade, expected to exceed 2012’s record of nearly $25 billion in bilateral commerce, is a key contributor to President Obama’s National Export Initiative – launched in 2010 – and the Emirati leadership’s active and visionary efforts to diversify the federal economy and open U.A.E.’s corporate climate to increased foreign direct investment. The economic and trade relationship between the United States and United Arab Emirates has grown exponentially and solidified itself as a key pillar driving commercial and diplomatic engagement thanks in part to an active public sector and industry efforts. As a result, the U.A.E. is largely appreciated as a crucial destination, transit point, and supply chain link for America’s global businesses.

ITA: Are there any specific sectors that should be especially appealing for U.S. businesses in the U.A.E. and in the Middle East?

Sebright: The U.A.E.’s global position as a crossroads for business, trade, and travel has risen dramatically in recent years, with the U.S. playing a significant commercial role in delivering cutting-edge technology, industry thought leadership, and world-class infrastructure to the Emirates. This growth is a direct result of the country’s plans to position the U.A.E. as a global commercial hub by executing ambitious economic development and diversification goals across the industrial spectrum. A few key sectors highlighted in these comprehensive plans that present a wealth of opportunities for U.S. industry include: Infrastructure Development & Green Build; Energy Development (Renewable, Nuclear, Oil & Gas); Aerospace, Defense, Security; Civil and Commercial Aviation; Media, Tourism and Culture; Healthcare and Medicine; and Education.

ITA: What are some challenges for American businesses seeking opportunities in the U.A.E.?

Sebright: The governments of both countries are actively working hand-in-hand with private industry to open the doors for increased U.S.-U.A.E. trade and business – effectively tackling many new and traditional challenges along the way. The biggest challenges for American companies include: navigating the corporate and regulatory landscape of the U.A.E. before setting up shop, conducting thorough due diligence to establish necessary connections with a local partner in the U.A.E., and appreciating the cultural differences between an American boardroom and an Emirati one. Thankfully, turnkey services provided by the Commerce Department and other U.S. agencies geared toward promoting trade and investment are readily available. I would also encourage U.S. firms to plug-in to industry groups like the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council to learn more about opportunities and utilize as a resource when issues arise that affect business practices.

ITA: For businesses interested in infrastructure opportunities in the U.A.E. and Middle East, how will this trade mission help them take advantage of the opportunities available? What are the advantages of working with the Department of Commerce and partner organizations like the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council?

Sebright: It is truly an incredible time for U.S. infrastructure companies looking to do business in the U.A.E. and broader Middle East region – where market-driven consumer demand for world-class infrastructure is rising and opportunities abound. Let me first focus on opportunities in the Emirates. The nation’s leadership has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to airport expansion projects; the development of a federal multi-modal rail system in the U.A.E. set to ultimately link to neighboring countries; boost production from an active and diverse energy grid; and fund ongoing nation-wide road, clean water, and other infrastructure initiatives underway to drive economic growth. The recent awarding of World Expo 2020 hosting duties to Dubai will only cement these efforts. Preparations necessary for Dubai and the U.A.E. to host Expo 2020 are expected to require $500 billion in additional infrastructure investment, directly create approximately 250,000 local jobs, and boost federal efforts to increase global tourism traffic to the Emirates to 20 million by 2020.

In the broader region, commercial globalization and domestic economic development initiatives centered on building new hospitals, educational institutions, and energy diversification projects are creating opportunities for American businesses to bring knowledge and technology to the market. In Qatar, the country is focused on building world class infrastructure to support the 2022 World Cup. In Saudi Arabia, the leadership is focused on providing education and jobs for an increasingly youthful population, nearly 60 percent of whom are under the age of 24.

ITA: Is there any one piece of advice you’d offer to a business looking for opportunities in the U.A.E.?

Sebright: It is important for representatives of American industry operating, or looking to operate, in the U.A.E. to understand and appreciate that most transactions or corporate partnerships develop only after a personal rapport and a clear commitment to the Emirati partner and consumer has been established. In the U.A.E., the prevailing view is that a deal is only as good as the person, or people selling it.

ITA: What would you tell a business that hasn’t considered the U.A.E. as a potential export market?

Sebright: The U.A.E. provides an open corporate environment for American firms to conduct regional and global business in line with international standards and best practices. On top of that, the U.A.E. is centrally located within an eight hour flight of 60% of the world’s key emerging markets, developing local capacity to link up to many of the world’s supply chains, and actively looking to the U.S. as a key commercial and trade partner. Both stable and lucrative, the U.A.E. is a primed business destination with immense potential yet to be tapped.

ITA: Why is the U.S. economic relationship with the U.A.E. and the Middle East region so important?

Sebright: The economic relationship between the U.S. and U.A.E., in particular, is founded in mutual respect and complements close strategic ties formed over years of supporting global efforts to maintain regional security and political stability. U.S. economic engagement with the broader Middle East is incredibly important because the development and cultivation of a successful commercial relationship can boost diplomatic efforts already in motion to establish wider cultural understanding between key consumers and global citizens. Much of the recent political turbulence in the region has been intrinsically linked to communities featuring disenfranchised youth with few economic prospects or opportunities. As the U.A.E. has exemplified, political stability and economic stability go hand in hand.


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