Archive for the ‘Trade Missions’ Category

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An Infrastructure Trade Mission to Two Developing Markets

December 4, 2012

Adam S. Wilczewski serves as the Chief of Staff of the International Trade Administration.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez (L) speaks on a panel in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 14, 2012 with (L-R) Ambassador David B, Shear, Leocadia Zak of the U.S. Trade Development Agency and John Moran from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez (L) speaks on a panel in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 14, 2012 with (L-R) Ambassador David B, Shear, Leocadia Zak of the U.S. Trade Development Agency and John Moran from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Asia is home to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Countries like China and India readily come to mind. The impressive development of other Asian nations, however, should not be overlooked.

Two countries that have made big economic strides in recent years are Indonesia and Vietnam. They are among the fastest growing countries in the region, with growth rates of 6.5 and 5.9 percent, respectively, in 2011.

Both are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the bloc of 10 states that forms the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner, making Indonesia and Vietnam important to the U.S economy.

For this reason, the U.S. government is committed to further improving trade relations with both of them.  Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sánchez, recently led an Infrastructure Trade Mission there, underscoring these countries importance.  This trip marked Sánchez’s third visit to Vietnam in 20 months.  Our U.S. Government partners at the U.S. Trade Development Agency and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) joined the ITA on this trip for a true whole-of-government effort.

Eight U.S. infrastructure companies – Black and Veatch, Cisco Systems, General Electric Company, Honeywell International, Inc., Oshkosh Corporation, The Shaw Group, Westinghouse Electric Company, and WorleyParsons, LLC – took the opportunity to explore these two foreign markets. Both countries have pressing infrastructure needs due to their high growth rate, offering exciting prospects for U.S companies in that field.

While in Jakarta, Indonesia – our first stop – the delegation met with public and private sector leaders to discuss opportunities that would be mutually beneficial to both of our economies.

Here, OPIC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesian Infrastructure Guarantee Fund (IIGF). The organizations pledged to work more closely together to promote private sector infrastructure investment in the world’s fourth most populous country.  A supportive Under Secretary Sánchez stated that “increased investment in infrastructure supported by OPIC will help to accelerate Indonesia’s already-rapid economic growth.”

In Vietnam, the participants met with numerous government officials and representatives from the private sector. Highlights on the agenda included an encounter with the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and an American Chamber of Commerce hosted lunch in Hanoi.

Most discussions during the trade mission focused on the potential for collaboration on infrastructure projects in areas such as energy, aviation, environmental technology, architecture, construction and engineering.

This Infrastructure Trade Mission is another example of how the U.S. government is working to meet the National Export Initiative’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

Southeast Asia is an export market with great potential for U.S. businesses. This growing economic and political importance was underscored by the fact that President Obama chose to visit the region in November directly following his reelection.

Together, working in partnership with the U.S. business community, the International Trade Administration and the entire U.S. Government hope to continue to make progress in meeting infrastructure needs abroad in order to support good-paying jobs here at home.

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An Energy Revolution for Israel

November 9, 2012

David McCormack is an International Trade Specialist in ITA’s Manufacturing and Services unit.

The Oil and Gas Trade Mission to Israel business delegation.

The Oil and Gas Trade Mission to Israel business delegation.

Led by the Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce Ken Hyatt, the U.S. Commerce Department Oil and Gas Trade Mission to Israel introduced 13 companies and 2 universities to the growing oil and gas industry in Israel. The participating organizations included two premier U.S. universities – The University of Texas, Austin and Texas A&M University, Kingsville.  Other Delegates included leaders in oil field services, logistics, consulting, data integration, consulting, and manufacturing.

The mission built on excellent trade relations between the countries, including America’s first ever Free Trade Agreement, signed by the U.S. and Israel in 1985.  More recently, U.S. Senator, Mary Landrieu brought the first ever oil and gas Certified Trade Mission to Israel in 2011, and the Government of Israel sent an inter-ministerial delegation to the U.S., earlier this year to see extensive energy development firsthand. Finally, on October 24, the US-Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG) met in Washington, chaired by U.S. Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, and Israeli Treasury Director-General Doron Cohen.  A main topic of discussion was enhanced U.S.-Israel cooperation for natural gas development.  As the JEDG signed an agreement that will extend U.S. loan guarantees of $3.8 billion to Israel to 2016, the trade mission to Israel departed for Tel Aviv to explore the histroric opportunities to help build Israel’s new energy economy.

According to a 2010 United States Geological Survey (USGS) assessment, the Eastern Mediterranean contains approximately 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, with a current market value of $240 billion. Industry representatives also report that they expect to discover oil in these offshore fields.  Finally, exploration efforts are also ongoing onshore Israel, creating opportunities for manufacturing, drilling, pipeline installation, etc.  Without a developed infrastructure to produce enough of their own energy domestically, Israel has historically been an energy importer. This will not always be the case, and many have recognized that these recent developments represent an energy revolution.  Many expect Israel to become a net energy exporter, but right now, extensive infrastructure and devlopment is needed.  U.S. companies are ready to deliver.

Hosted in Israel by Senior Commercial Officer Maria Andrews, the trade mission delegates attended the 2012 Israel Energy and Business Convention (IEBC), conducted site visits, attended receptions, participated in a roundtable discussion with Israel’s oil and gas industry, and participated in more than 100 customized business meetings.  The official program began at the IEBC, where Hyatt delivered a speech at the opening ceremony, and the U.S delegation was warmly received.

At the roundtable discussion hosted by Hyatt, Senator Mary Landrieu, and the Chair of Israel’s oil and gas association, Uri Aldubi, the delegation received presentations from Noble Energy, Zion Oil, and Genie Energy.  Noble briefed the delegation on their discoveries of around 30 trillion cubic feet of gas offshore Israel, and their future hopes for more gas, as well as oil, discoveries.  Zion, the largest onshore petroleum exploration leaseholder in Israel, spoke about how to do business in Israel, as a U.S. company, and their optimistic outlook towards Israel’s onshore potential.  Finally, Harold Vinegar, from Genie Energy, shared his vision for the development of oil shale in Israel.  Vinegar, formerly a Chief Scientist at Shell, stunned the crowd with his estimate of 250 billion barrels of recoverable oil in Israel’s shale deposits.  That evening, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, hosted the delegation at his residence for an exclusive networking reception with the leaders of Israel’s new energy economy.

Thanks to the efforts of the Commercial Service in Tel Aviv, the delegation received a rare and intimate tour of the port of Ashdod, and discussed opportunities in pipeline installation and logistics with port authorities.  Keeping a full schedule, they also attended government meetings in Jerusalem, and a high-level presentation and networking session, with industry and government leaders, hosted by the Herzliya Conference, and the Law Firm of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, a CS Strategic Partner.

While in Israel, Hyatt met with several key government offices, including the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, the Ministry of Trade, and the Office of the Prime Minister

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu highlighted the opportunities for academic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.  There are almost no Israeli born petroleum engineers still in Israel.  Universities in the Gulf states represent the best programs in petroleum and gas engineering, and specialized energy MBA’s in the world.  The 2011 and 2012 Oil and Gas Trade Missions to Israel are laying the groundwork for Israel’s energy industry by bringing advanced petroleum and gas engineering programs to Israel.

The delegates completed the mission feeling optimistic about the commercial opportunities in this sector.  The companies realize that doing business in Israel is often a long-term proposition and this will be the first of hopefully many visits to Israel that the companies will make.  The U.S. Commercial Service and our Strategic Partners are standing by to assist U.S. firms in accessing the historic opportunities represented by Israel’s energy revolution.

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Top Obama Officials Make Historic Trip to Burma in the Wake of Easing Sanctions

July 16, 2012

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Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary for International Trade

Under Secretary Sánchez (top right) witnesses a signing ceremony where American company GE will provide renewable energy technology to a Cambodian firm, SOMA Group. Representatives from both GE and SOMA were on hand for the event

Under Secretary Sánchez (top right) witnesses a signing ceremony where American company GE will provide renewable energy technology to a Cambodian firm, SOMA Group. Representatives from both GE and SOMA were on hand for the event

As Under Secretary for International Trade, I have the privilege of working every day to expand opportunities for U.S. businesses, and strengthen the connections between different countries through trade and commerce.

Case in point: this past week, I accompanied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Cambodia to speak at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) business forum and then traveled to Burma to address a U.S.-ASEAN Business Council business mission as well as announce the first U.S.-Burma business deal since the U.S. government eased restrictions on doing business with Burma last week. I also had the unique opportunity to meet many of Burma’s government reformers and opposition politicians, including Nobel Peace Prize winner, opposition leader, and (now) member of Parliament Aung San Suu Kyi.

These were important efforts because, as President Obama has said, the Southeast Asia region offers incredible potential for increased trade with the United States. Most notably, it is home to a rising middle class, which means more potential customers for U.S. products and services.

In fact, trade between the United States and ASEAN member nations has increased substantially in recent years. With a combined GDP of $1.5 trillion, the ASEAN region is our fourth largest export market and home to some of the world’s most important trade routes. In 2011, U.S. exports to ASEAN nations broke records – exceeding $76 billion for the first time.

It’s critical that we keep this momentum going. One way is through deepening our commercial engagement. This marks my fifth trip to the region in just over a year. Secretary Clinton herself was involved in the business forum from its onset. And President Obama traveled to the region just last November. Clearly, stronger commercial and political ties between the United States and ASEAN member nations are of utmost importance to this administration as we implement a much-discussed strategic “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region.

My trip to Burma came at an especially historic time. In fact, this weekend’s visit marks the first time U.S. government officials have participated in a high-level economic and business mission to the nation in decades. And, last Wednesday, two days before we arrived in Cambodia, President Obama announced that the U.S. would be easing restrictions on investment in the country, allowing U.S. companies to responsibly do business in Burma.

Discussions on energy, supply chain efficiency and infrastructure were among the most prominent at the forum in Cambodia, with important discussions happening between the private and public sectors. As an illustration, I witnessed American company General Electric (GE) announce a partnership with the SOMA Group, a leading Cambodian industrial company while we were there. The SOMA Group selected GE’s Waukesha gas engine technology to power a new rural, rice husk biomass-energy project designed to supply renewable electricity. So the opportunities for U.S. companies here are already starting to bear fruit.

Indeed, much was accomplished during this trip. Ties between the U.S. and all ASEAN nations are now stronger than ever and we were able to personally commend Burma for its ongoing reforms and make clear that we expect further rapid progress on its path to democracy and economic inclusion. The partnerships that were created and strengthened over the weekend will pay dividends—including the creation of good-paying, export-related American jobs–for years to come.

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Hundreds of U.S. Companies Find Opportunities during Trade Winds-Asia

June 5, 2012

Bill Burwell has been with the U.S. Department of Commerce for 14 years and currently serves as the Director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Southeast Asia hosted its first Trade Winds event during May, World Trade Month. Organized by the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service, more than 100 American companies participated in the trade mission. The events were hosted in Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia May 14-22.

Now in it’s fifth year, Trade Winds is an eight-day trade and business development conference, held in Asia for the first time. Those who attend Trade Winds find opportunities for business connections in key geographic regions. It is like a giant trade mission helping buyers and sellers make connections and sales.

The Trade Winds program, organized by the Mid-Atlantic region of the Commercial Service domestic network, has thus far resulted in more than $100 million worth of exports for participating U.S. companies.

The morning of the first day saw U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney officially commence the mission with a ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand where the U.S. Commercial Service had arranged more than 50 business-to-business appointments for the visiting companies.

Meanwhile, 20 additional U.S. companies spent two days exploring business development efforts in Vietnam, where the U.S. Commercial Service in Ho Chi Minh City had arranged well over 80 business to business appointments for the visiting U.S. companies.

As the mission progressed, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman welcomed the entire Trade Winds delegation of more than 200 business representatives from 100 companies to Singapore.  These companies spent the next two days participating in a Southeast Asia regional business forum, a forum that included more than 540 one-on-one consultations with Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officers representing 14 markets across the Asia-Pacific region. An additional 216 business-to-business appointments were arranged by the Commercial Service in Singapore for the American business representatives.

By May 21 and 22, Trade Winds – Asia had turned its focus to Malaysia and Indonesia. In Jakarta, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, Ted Osius welcomed a delegation of 17 U.S. companies while U.S. Ambassador Paul Jones similarly welcomed 10 U.S. companies to Malaysia. As with previous delegations, the U.S. Commercial Service offices in Jakarta and Kuala Lampur arranged 89 and 67 business to business appointments respectively for the visiting U.S. companies.

During the entirety of the Trade Winds – Asia conference, the U.S. Commercial Service arranged more than 500 business-to-business meetings between U.S. companies and commercial representatives in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In addition, Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officers engaged in over 540 one on one meetings with U.S. business representatives and provided business development counseling on 14 Asia – Pacific markets.

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Twelve U.S. Companies Participate in the First-Ever Energy Themed Trade Mission to Russia

June 5, 2012

Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Russia’s impending accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has sparked a boom of foreign business interest in the Russian economy. Couple this with the Russian governments’ concentrated investments in energy technology and you have a situation ripe for trade deals between American and Russian companies. As such, I am leading a trade delegation of American energy companies to Moscow, the first such energy-themed mission in the history of U.S.-Russian relations.

Under Secretary Sánchez welcomes members of a 12-company U.S. trade delegation to Moscow for the first stop on an energy efficiency trade mission to Russia. The delegation will meet with public and private sector officials in Moscow and St. Petersburg to discuss export opportunities in a growing sector

Under Secretary Sánchez welcomes members of a 12-company U.S. trade delegation to Moscow for the first stop on an energy efficiency trade mission to Russia. The delegation will meet with public and private sector officials in Moscow and St. Petersburg to discuss export opportunities in a growing sector

Representatives from 12 American energy firms are accompanying me on a business tour of Moscow in search of export opportunities for American energy firms. The Russian market represents incredible potential and invaluable relationships – opportunities that America cannot afford to neglect. Successful investments in the Russian energy market could spur a windfall of job creation and economic growth at home while American companies rake in profits from these beneficial partnerships.

We’ve watched U.S. merchandise exports to Russia double from 2005 to 2010, and then grow nearly another 40 percent in 2011 alone. American business exports to Russia now top $8 billion dollars a year. This is a market we must capitalize on. Recognizing this growth and potential, the Department of Commerce led an automotive technologies mission to Russia in April and was eager to do so again.

The Russian government is implementing an Energy Strategy that calls for energy efficiency, sustainable development, energy development and technological development, as well as improved effectiveness and competitiveness. The demand for affordable and efficient energy will only grow as the global economy evolves, a phenomenon that will continuously stimulate demand for high-quality, energy-efficient products and services. Appropriately, the companies on this trade mission can supply exactly that. As I highlighted in an opinion piece in The Moscow Times, many U.S. businesses on the mission have a particular interest in Russia’s focus on smart grids, green-building and road infrastructure.

This mission is a historic event for both the American and Russian energy industries. U.S. companies, manufacturers, and workers already are global leaders in clean technology production and services. And that is why I am privileged to lead this mission to expand exports to the region, exports that will create jobs at home. As a nation, we should be proud of the expertise our companies offer, as well as the innovation and advancement we are known for. These investments today will pay dividends to our citizens tomorrow.

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First U.S. Healthcare Policy and Trade Mission to Mexico

May 22, 2012

Doug Wallace is a Commercial Officer currently working at the San Francisco Export Assistance Center, and has worked for the International Trade Administration for 15 years.

Thanks to Mexican healthcare reforms, I arose groggily at 5:30 AM and stumbled towards my in-room coffee machine. My Commercial Service colleagues and I organized a Healthcare Policy and Trade Mission of 17 companies to Mexico May 13-15, and the bus was embarking on our medical odyssey in 30 minutes!

Our delegates’ U.S. firms made very interesting products. One made speech recognition software that solved the time-consuming and dangerous global phenomenon of bad handwriting (Give a doctor a pen, and he or she will write poorly in any language.) Others made knee orthopedic devices, ultrasound, infectious disease diagnostics, and air flow aps for clean rooms. One company even sold human tissue samples. Ew.

Off we trundled to begin the Mission at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (hey, the traffic isn’t that bad!) to understand Mexico’s priorities for healthcare services and equipment. Given Mexico City’s notorious air quality, I realized that the Institute must be extremely busy, especially with Mt. Popocatepetl currently spewing ash nearby.

Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez with staff of U.S. Commercial Service Mexico City (Photo Eduardo Sanchez)

Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez with staff of U.S. Commercial Service Mexico City (Photo Eduardo Sanchez)

The Mexican Government is expanding health care coverage to all citizens, and with 4 percent economic growth expected for 2012, this is an excellent market for U.S. medical sector companies. Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez led our group to the Mexican Ministry of Health where we learned about Mexico’s priority for integrating and expanding health information management and telemedicine to expand healthcare into far-flung regions. Mexico’s Director General for Planning and Development closed his presentation saying, “we want to adopt the good practices of the United States, and avoid all your mistakes,” to which I did not know whether to raise an eyebrow or cluck “hear, hear!”

There is a discernible look in the eye and tone in the voice of all the players we met in Mexico’s healthcare universe. It’s… pride. Mixed with determination. This was indeed the case for all the hospital administrators who led us on tours of oncology wings, cardiac centers, and emergency rooms. Deeper we went into the duodenum of one hospital facility, like an encapsulated endoscopy. Then, we turned a corner and one delegate let out a short gasp. There it lay: a Varian Cyber Knife.  This hospital’s street cred was now firmly established.

The next day, we had breakfast with U.S. Ambassador Wayne and the head of COFEPRIS, Mexico’s FDA. Over the past year, license application times and bureaucratic steps have dramatically shrunk. Predictability and transparency in the drug and device approval process have dramatically increased. Mexico is striving to establish one of the world’s most modern regulatory regimes. From an afternoon’s worth of in-depth healthcare presentations delivered by numerous luminaries in Mexico’s healthcare sector, one readily grasped the country’s commitment to provide the best possible healthcare to all patients, while employing sound management and technology to bend the cost curve and serve rural areas.

After such a whirlwind introduction to Mexico’s healthcare market, we thanked our hosts, and are already planning our next steps in expanding into this exciting market.

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Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference Profiles Asian Markets

March 22, 2012

Tali Levine is an international trade specialist in the Trade Information Center

Next Monday and Tuesday, March 26-27.  I’ll be in Los Angeles at the 25th annual Asia Pacific Business Outlook. The event features representatives of 200 companies from many sectors ranging from manufacturing to consumer products and banking in attendance.  I’m excited to join some 400 other people as we listen to Senior Commercial Officers and numerous experts on the Asia Pacific region.  The networking event includes 60 focused sessions and private one-on-one consultations.  Since 1987, APBO has been the premier business conference focused on trade and investment in Asian markets.

At the conference, businesses will meet face-to face with Commercial Service trade professionals who have traveled from across Asia to convene in Los Angeles, to learn the latest on market opportunities, strategies, and tips to export successfully.  It’s an opportunity to expand your exports in the region. Among all U.S. exporters, 58 percent sell only to one market.  So, for example, if you’re only selling to Vietnam, why not expand to China, Malaysia, or Indonesia? What are the latest and hottest markets and industry sectors in the region?

Stay tuned, as we will be posting numerous blogs from Senior Commercial Officers and seminar participants about the conference early next week.  Be on the lookout for blogs on China tomorrow, India on Monday, the Philippines on Tuesday, and on sustainability and why a center for international trade development attends APBO on Wednesday.

Stay tuned and happy reading!

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