Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


New Opportunities in Colombia

November 24, 2015

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

Laura Ebert is the Colombia Desk Officer in the International Trade Administration.

As a fan of Netflix’s drama series ‘Narcos’, I was both nervous and excited to see just how much Colombia has changed since the days of Pablo Escobar. I visited the country for the first time in July and returned a few weeks ago with John Andersen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. Our goal for the trip was to identify new business opportunities in cities across Colombia. I was impressed by the new, modern Colombia and can confirm that the country has indeed come a very long way. In fact:

  • Colombia is on the verge of completing a historic peace process to end 50 years of civil war.
  • Over the past 20 years, GDP has doubled and foreign direct investment into Colombia was more than $16 billion in 2014
  • The rate of Colombians in extreme poverty has fallen from a high of 21 percent in 2006 to 6 percent in 2013.
  • The country’s young population (25 percent of Colombians are under 14-years-old) means the country is bursting with new ideas, energy, and enthusiasm for the future.

During our visit, I saw many examples of the new and modern Colombia. For example, the city of Barranquilla has become Colombia’s international commercial hub. This city of 2.4 million people on the north Caribbean coast impressed me with its crazy traffic, heavy rains, and multitude of skyscrapers—all under construction. With a thriving port and major waterway, the Magdalena River is a natural hub for commerce. The city looks north, towards the United States, meaning there is a lot of interest in doing business with U.S. companies. Some of the reasons Barranquilla may be the next place a U.S. company does business includes the city’s:

  • Commitment to transparency and good governance.
  • Ambitious new plans and projects, such as a new 34,500 m2 expo center, Puerta del Oro, which means procurement opportunities for U.S. companies.
  • Convenient transportation options including an airport with big plans for expansion.
  • Business opportunities in major industry sectors like metalworking, chemicals and plastics, construction materials, transportation and logistics, internet and telecommunications services, health and pharmaceuticals, tourism and health tourism.

Another great example is Medellin, Pablo Escobar’s hometown. Medellin, a city of 3.4 million people, has transformed into an innovation hub for the country. Recently, Medellin was named the most innovative city of the year by the Wall Street Journal. Innovative clusters have developed in industries such as textile and garment manufacturing and design; business tourism and trade shows; electric energy; construction; medical and dental services; and information and communications technologies. Public, private, and academic partnerships are working together to develop new products. One example is public-private corporation Ruta N, which acts as a center of business and innovation in Medellin. The corporation promotes and develops successful knowledge-based businesses. Ruta N anchors a new technology cluster in the north of the city designed to attract businesses in the areas of science, technology, and innovation, particularly in the health, energy, and telecommunications sectors.

If you think the new Colombia holds promise for your growing business, here’s how to get started:

See you in Colombia!





Exports in Higher Education–Finding Qualified Students in Central Europe

November 23, 2015

Jennifer Moll is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Detroit Export Assistance Center.

If you work in higher education, your institution may be actively recruiting international students. Successful international recruiting involves finding students abroad; venues to conduct effective outreach; forming international partnerships; ensuring international students meet the school’s qualifications; and connecting with scholarship and financial aid options domestically and internationally. In the spring, we’ll host an event designed to help your institution explore all of these important elements in the growing higher education market of Central Europe.

The U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassies in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, is partnering with EducationUSA and the Fulbright Commission, to organize education fairs in their respective countries from April 18-22, 2016.

The fairs are much more than shaking hands with foreign diplomats. In each market, event participants will have access to:

  • Briefings from the U.S. embassy in each country about the education environment and market factors;
  • One-on-one appointments with potential partners;
  • A student fair; and
  • Networking events in the respective country (Prague, Warsaw, or Budapest).

Central Europe has experienced amazing development in the last 20 years, including growth in the field of higher education. Across the region there is a strong tradition and interest in quality education that U.S. institutions can tap into. Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest each have unique characteristics that make them suitable targets for overseas recruitment efforts:

  • The Czech Republic has great recruitment potential. High-quality educational programs, coupled with English as the standard second language, produce a large pool of highly qualified candidates for both undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States. Also, an increase in study abroad programs and institutional cooperation has given rise to several new private foundations that have the potential to be sources for student scholarships.
  • Poland is unquestionably a prime target for U.S. educational institutions to successfully recruit undergraduate and graduate students. This market not only represents the sixth largest country in the European Union in terms of population, but it also has a population heavily skewed toward young students interested in higher education.
  • In Hungary, studying abroad is seen as an absolute must for many students, with one-third of students having the goal of study overseas. Summer camps, as well as special English language and mentoring programs all contribute to a large, highly-qualified pool of applicants that will be of great interest to U.S. colleges and universities.

To expand your institution’s international reach to these growing markets, visit the event page to learn more. Be sure to sign up for our related webinar, ‘Best Practices and Opportunities for Student Recruitment in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary’, on December 2nd at 11 a.m. EST.

There’s never been a better time to explore the higher education market in Central Europe. Our team would love to help your institution succeed!

*For more information or questions, email Jennifer at



Secretary Penny Pritzker Invites Businesses to Join U.S. Delegation at Hannover Messe 2016

November 20, 2015

The US is home to the world’s most innovated and forward thinking companies in the world, but in today’s global economy it is not enough to simply be the best—we must also let the world know that America is open for business.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker invites your business to attend Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology. Our team of commercial experts will provide insights into global industry trends, help you identify the best market opportunities for your products, and facilitate introductions to international buyers, distributers, and investors.

Register and learn how USA Partner Country status makes this a can’t-miss event for your business!




New Opportunities with TPP – Increasing U.S. Exports to Brunei

November 19, 2015

Craig Allen is the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei with the Department of State.

When I arrived as U.S. Ambassador to Brunei in early 2015, my main goal was to strengthen the economic ties between our two countries. What I have since discovered is that Brunei is a little country with big potential. Its small, well-educated population enjoys a high standard of living thanks to oil and gas reserves. Brunei is also strategically located in the heart of Southeast Asia. Each year, more than $5 trillion in trade passes through this region, including $600 million in trade between the United States and Brunei last year.

Although Brunei is a small market, opportunities for U.S. businesses – big and small – abound. The success stories are all around me.

Every day, hundreds of international passengers step off brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Royal Brunei Airlines was the first country in Southeast Asia to fly Boeing’s newest passenger aircraft. They continue to expand their fleet, creating and sustaining high-skilled jobs in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina.

During Brunei’s National Day celebrations, I proudly watched as the Royal Brunei Armed Forces flew new Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters over thousands of excited celebrants. I knew that for each helicopter I saw in the air that day, thousands of Americans back home had benefited economically. Whether it is Brunei’s state-of-the-art Cancer Center being furbished with sophisticated U.S. radiotherapy medical equipment, or Brunei’s national university partnering with IBM to host the first Blue Gene/P supercomputer in Southeast Asia, Brunei offers many opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.

The successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations last month represents a new opportunity to increase exports. In particular, TPP will benefit American machinery exporters, as 80 percent of U.S. machinery exports and 100 percent of U.S. transportation equipment exports will become duty-free when the agreement enters into force.

Now is the right time to do business in Brunei. This little country is making big efforts to diversify its economy away from oil and gas. And with the TPP coming into force, U.S. companies are poised to seize new opportunities. My staff and I at the U.S. Embassy in Brunei are ready to welcome U.S. exporters interested in this small but promising market. We stand ready to help and look forward to hearing from you.


How to Find Sector Opportunities in Korea

November 16, 2015

Jim Bledsoe is an International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service in Little Rock, Arkansas

A business client named Max recently contacted me to ask some general exporting questions pertaining to a few specific markets. It soon occurred to me that a lot of what he was asking about was readily available in our agency’s Country Commercial Guides (CCG), which are posted online for free here. I asked Max if he had ever used a CCG or even heard of them, which led to the following conversation.

Max:  What is a CCG, and why do I, as a U.S. business, care?

Jim:  A CCG is a guide prepared by boots-on-the ground trade and economic professionals at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad that highlights specific country market conditions. While similar to the CIA World Fact book in concept, the nature of the CCGs is geared more towards giving you market insights so you can sell your product or service in that country.

Max:  I see. A lot of what I’ve found out there on the Internet hasn’t really helped me narrow down the field for potential markets to sell in. So these CCGs then are more useful—how so?

Jim:  There are currently CCGs covering 123 markets. These Guides have the latest on high-demand industry sectors, as well as market-by-market economic overviews, selling techniques, investment climate considerations, trade financing options, and business travel advice and resources. U.S. companies can also find opportunities not only in popular markets, but also in many other less crowded markets. In our earlier conversation, you had asked about the Korea market, so let’s take a closer look. We have a great group of trade professionals that I work with who write about specific areas like Agriculture, or the Defense Industry. Basically, you are getting current market conditions from people—U.S.  Federal Employees—who live and work in the respective markets of the CCG they write.

Max:  How do I use this CCG to get my Defense Industry in Korea-related market information?

Jim:  The easiest and most efficient way to capitalize on the valuable market information contained within the CCGs is to contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC). So right here by calling me, you are already doing it the easy way! But seriously, anyone can contact their local USEAC where an International Trade Specialist can help identify and winnow down potential markets, work with you to develop an export strategy, and help explore  options for business to business matchmaking

Max:  What if I just wanted to do some looking myself?  I would hate to bother you with this….

Jim: It is no bother at all—this is what I do and am happy to help!  However, if you wish to do further research into the markets yourself, it is easy. Here’s what I recommend:

  • First go to the CCG landing page and select which country you want find out more about. They are split up by region: Asia, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Western Hemisphere.
  • Once you have clicked on a country, you will notice there are eight sections listed with topics you can click on in each of the following:
    • Doing Business in [Country]
    • Political and Economic Environment
    • Selling U.S. Products and Services
    • Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment
    • Trade Regulations, Customs, and Standards
    • Investment Climate Statement
    • Trade and Project Financing
    • Business Travel

Max:  What if I just want to find out about the Defense Industry in South Korea?  What all would I click on?

Jim:  Well, that depends. First click on the Korea link under the Asia region, then next under the “Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment” section. I would recommend clicking on the Defense Industry Equipment link. Under this link, you will get a comprehensive view of the Defense Industry market segment in South Korea, including best prospects and opportunities in the market. This section also includes major trade shows and key acquisition contacts for the Defense Industry in Korea. However, I wouldn’t recommend stopping at that link alone, especially for the Defense Industry. I would recommend looking at the “Doing Business in Korea” section, and reading through the overview sections where there is valuable information on how strong a trade partner Korea is with the United States. Then look at Market Opportunity and Challenges insights, as well as where you can find a general Market Entry Strategy specific to Korea.

Seeing as how the “Doing Business in Korea” Market Entry Strategy link explicitly recommends “a local presence is essential for success,” I would highly recommend that you look at the “Selling U.S. Products and Services” section. This explains the various aspects of actually selling in Korea, such as the Using an Agent to Sell US Products and Services or Establishing an Office , where you will find  how to establish the local presence recommended by our Commercial Specialists at the U.S. Embassy in Korea.

Max:  That sounds helpful, is that all I should look at then?

Jim:  Your company has had good success in selling quality U.S. goods to the Defense Industry worldwide. In pursuing opportunities in Korea, you should check out the “Trade Regulations, Customs, and Standards” section for Korea, where topics such as Import Requirements and Documentation and U.S. Export Controls, among others, are covered for the South Korean market.


Mission Global: Vets Go Global Initiative Assists and Empowers Veteran-Owned Businesses to Expand in International Markets

November 10, 2015

Guest blog post by Murat Muftari, International Trade Specialist, International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. Muftari also is a former U.S. Special Forces soldier.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

“History has shown that when you give veterans an opportunity to succeed, they go above and beyond. And we as a nation owe them those opportunities to succeed,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald when recently announcing the expansion of the Veterans Economic Opportunity Initiative – a collaborative initiative to increase economic opportunities for veterans.

Vets Go Global

Vets Go Global Initiative Connects Veterans to Global Markets

As we approach Veterans Day this Wednesday, November 11, let us take a moment to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifice and willingness to serve for the common good of a grateful nation. Their service continues well beyond the battlefield and into the commercial and private sector where transitioning veterans continue their mission and turn to entrepreneurship at greater rates than the rest of the U.S. population. In fact, more than 2.4 million U.S. businesses are owned by veterans, representing about nine percent of all American firms and employing an estimated 5.8 million workers, with $1.22 trillion in sales receipts. Our veterans are significant contributors to America’s global leadership in business and innovation, supporting jobs and furthering our national security.

Although veteran-owned firms (9.9 percent) are less likely to export than minority firms (17.5 percent) and women-owned firms (12.1 percent), veteran-owned firms that do export are often bigger and have more employees than other firms that export. Veteran-owned firms employ an average of 68 employees, compared to 42 employees for women-owned firms and 21 employees for minority-owned firms.

Since only 9.9 percent of veteran-owned firms export, the Department of Commerce sees this as a tremendous opportunity to assist and increase the amount of veteran-owned firms that export through the Vets Go Global initiative, translating to an increase in bottom-lines and jobs.

The Vets Go Global team is committed to assisting veteran-owned businesses through customized export programs and resources. Our team is working diligently to support veteran-owned businesses by:

  • Providing customized export counseling on the frontlines of veteran-owned business events.  This is happening next week at theNational Veteran Small Business Engagement (NVSBE)Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., November 17-19, where the Vets Go Global team will be exhibiting and engaging with veterans through a seminar and one-on-one counseling opportunities.
  • Collaborating and working with theVeteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) to put together an international business curriculum for veteran-owned businesses. Veteran-owned businesses who graduate the three-day program will then have an opportunity to develop an export strategy and write an export plan for international markets through a veteran focused ExporTech, an export acceleration system for achieving profitable growth.
  • Our team is also working with veteran-focused business associations that will lead trade missions to markets in Latin America and Asia focusing on industry sectors that show the most significant trends for opportunity in these markets. The mission destinations and targeted industry sectors are based on ITA’sTop Markets Series, which is designed to help U.S. exporters identify their next export market by comparing opportunities across borders.

Our Vets Go Global team will continue to collaborate with private and public organizations that offer resources to veterans by presenting additional avenues of economic opportunity to veteran-owned businesses.

Our team calls on the veteran-owned business community to continue to rise to the occasion when opportunity knocks and go above and beyond by joining Mission Global and learning more about the existing export opportunities and resources. To get started, contact the Vets Go Global team at or contacting your nearest Export Assistance Center.

As Veterans Day approaches, I would like to personally thank the brave Americans who have served – as well as their families – and those who continue to serve our country as members of the Armed Forces.

Follow the Vets Go Global team on Twitter and join our Vets Go Global LinkedIn Group Page for news about upcoming initiatives!


Market Research that Challenges Your Assumptions

November 10, 2015

This is a guest blog by Doug Barry PhD, who until recently was a Senior International Trade Specialist with ITA’s Office of Communications and Digital Initiatives  

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

You are in the renewable energy business in the United States, and receive a notice about an upcoming conference on the topic to be held in Brazil. You’re interested, and start thinking about next steps. However, after talking with some colleagues at the office, you are quickly reminded that Brazil is in an economic slump, its politics more volatile than usual. “Slump” and “volatile” are not samba to your ears, and you decide that this isn’t the year to expand to Brazil.


Country Commercial Guides showcase market research intelligence for 120+ countries. 

You’ve made a mistake. There’s significant opportunity in the renewable energy market.

What should you have done to get an accurate understanding of the market, even if you decide not to go to a trade show for the industry?  Well, you should have consulted a resource that for many years has been providing reliable, in-depth market research for U.S. companies of all sizes. The publication is called the Country Commercial Guide (CCG) and there are Guides covering some 123 markets. Formerly comprised of large, door stop proportions, the CCGs from 2015 are divided into bite size bits and accessible online via In case we fail to mention it later, access is FREE. It’s never a good idea to select market opportunities based on faulty assumptions and hearsay.  With the CCG’s, you can get accurate, bankable information with an investment of a few minutes and a couple of mouse clicks. The format is mobile friendly, so you can peruse tidbits at your leisure, emailing yourself, or colleagues, to select pages for closer scrutiny later. Your boss may appreciate receiving this information for its brevity and insightfulness.

Size doesn’t matter

One of the first and most important things you notice is that despite a bumpy economy, caused in part by China’s falling demand for natural resources, Brazil is eager to build up its alternative energy capabilities. A drought in part of the country means that dependence on hydro power must be balanced with more solar and wind power. Businesses in the U.S. specializing in renewable energy should take note: Brazil isn’t your only best bet, and there’s opportunity in the most unlikely places—if you know where to look for it, like the Country Commercial Guide’s best prospect report on Renewable Energy.

A good place to look for buyers is trade shows, and Brazil has many, including in the energy sector. Trade shows inevitably provide a solution to one of businesses biggest challenges:  Where to find buyers—and these shows have a big collection of them under one large roof. Some of these shows will be attended by market and sector experts of the U.S. Commercial Service, based at the U.S. embassy and consulates. These folks know the buyers and will guide you to them, making sure reputations are impeccable and that they have the money and are ready to spend it. In turn the buyers may trust you more because the U.S. government is introducing you.

Here’s a sample of upcoming renewable energy shows in Brazil:

June 30-July 1, 2016, Rio de Janeiro, SP

Now that you’ve changed you mind about attending a trade show in Brazil, you wonder about temporary entry for samples or a popup table display. There’s a section in the CCG on temporary imports.

To your surprise, you learn that in this heavily taxed country, temporary imports are also taxed, but the amount is pro-rated based on the amount of time the goods are in the country. You can calculate the cost ahead of time. You learn that Brazil is examining the Carnet system, whereby participating countries agree not to tax temporary imports and a common document is used to expedite Customs processing. You make a note to check back in six months to see if Brazil has joined the Carnet system. If you make more frequent trips to Brazil, the Carnet, if adopted, will be useful.

Certain business protocols such as dress, perceptions of time, negotiation strategies, and trust are also covered in the CCG and can make the difference between making a sale and losing one. It’s not an overstatement to say that in no other publication, on or offline, can you find this mix of hard data and practical business acumen that you can apply immediately.

Oh, and did we mention that it’s FREE?


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