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Women Impacting Public Policy Partners with ITA to Help Women Entrepreneurs Explore Business Growth Opportunities

July 16, 2015

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

This is a guest blog by Barbara Kasoff, President and Co-founder of Women Impacting Public Policy.

WIPP & DOC sign partnership agreement

Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of WIPP and Assistant Secretary Marcus Jadotte signs partnership agreement.

Earlier today, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) joined Assistant Secretary Jadotte at the U.S. Department of Commerce to announce a new partnership to increase awareness about exporting in the U.S. business community. Women Impacting Public Policy’s (WIPP) new strategic partnership with Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) will focus on providing education and resources to help small- and medium-sized women-owned businesses succeed in the global marketplace.

Signed this morning, the Memorandum of Agreement explains that, ITA and WIPP will work together on marketing, education programs, and events leveraging our organizations’ expertise to help make U.S. businesses more export savvy. WIPP recently developed Export NOW, a step-by-step program which guides participants — current and new exporters — through the steps to enter new growing markets or to expand their export reach. We’ll also partner with ITA on our Export Now program. Joint activities may include building awareness through outreach at trade shows, collaborative press and digital communications, and online registration for resource support.

As the U.S. marketplace becomes more competitive than ever, it is crucial for businesses — particularly small- and medium-sized businesses — to engage a broader international market for success. WIPP firmly believes that the products and services provided by women-owned businesses belong not just in American hands, but should reach every consumer around the globe. As a leader in educating businesses on ways to build, develop, and expand their companies, WIPP is perfectly positioned to work in concert with ITA to aid women-owned firms in growing their footprint in the global marketplace via export opportunities.

In 2014, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the National Export Initiative/NEXT (NEI/NEXT), an expanded and revitalized U.S. export strategy. NEI/NEXT focuses on supporting U.S. businesses of all sizes and economic growth in American communities by making it easier for U.S. companies to access export resources and capitalize on growth opportunities around the world. Our partnership with ITA supports this initiative by educating U.S. women-owned businesses about the benefits of exporting and expanding their exports to additional markets. Companies will learn about public and private sector resources to assist them in going global. WIPP joins several of ITA’s Strategic Partners who have connected more than 1,500 companies to federal export assistance to broaden and deepen the U.S. exporter base.

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First-Ever U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum Provides Important Recommendations For Improved Economic Partnership

July 16, 2015

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

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Post by Bruce H. Andrews Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Commerce Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Addresses First-Ever U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum

Commerce Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Addresses First-Ever U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum

This week, I had the opportunity to participate in the first ever U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum, co-hosted by the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the forum, Vice President Biden, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, U.S. business leaders, other government officials, and I met to discuss the future of American business in Ukraine and an improved economic partnership.

To kick off the forum, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the important steps the Ukrainian government has made in the past year toward increased economic stability. Among other changes made as part of their economic reform agenda, we applaud Ukraine’s commitment to developing their  energy sector, and streamlined electronic systems for new and current businesses. Additionally, the Obama Administration has pledged its support and provided $2 billion in loan guarantees to Ukrainian households, and almost $16 million to economic stabilization programs.

Ukraine has made significant strides over the past year. Forums like this one provided an important platform to jumpstart the conversation between business leaders and government officials, and help set the groundwork for even more progress.

At the forum, American business leaders gave critical input to Ukrainian government officials about the conditions they believe are necessary to improve the investment climate in Ukraine. For example, I heard them present multiple recommendations to Ukrainian government leaders about the need to be more transparent and efficient if they want to attract more foreign investment. Several roundtable discussions held over the course of the day highlighted areas that could benefit from transparency, including agribusiness, energy development, and intellectual property protection. Many U.S. companies see the benefits of investing in a country like Ukraine, but they would like to make sure the government continues to work toward a stronger economy and a stronger investment climate.

The Department of Commerce plays a key role in navigating these global markets. For example, our Foreign Commercial Service offices around the world facilitate engagement and dialogue between the U.S. private sector and foreign governments, including Ukraine. These offices are critical to shaping the best market possible for U.S. businesses.

At the event, Secretary Pritzker announced that she will travel to Kyiv again in October. This upcoming trip shows the Commerce Department’s commitment to maintaining open dialogue between the U.S. and Ukraine. By working together,  we can support a strong, prosperous Ukraine, and foster a transparent and efficient economic partnership that our businesses can thrive in.

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Thirty Tigers Reaches a New Level by Exporting

July 15, 2015

This is a guest blog by David Macias, President of Thirty Tigers.

Thirty Tigers is an entertainment company, located in Nashville, Tennessee that offers management, marketing and distribution, and publishing services to independent artists.

Thirty Tigers was interested in marketing itself outside the United States and learned about the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) of the International Trade Association (ITA) through the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM). With support of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and a grant through the ITA from the MDCP, we exhibited at MIDEM 2013, the music industry’s leading trade show held annually in Cannes, France.

As a result of participating at MIDEM 2013, Thirty Tigers reported a sales agreement signed in France that led to sales of $80,000 in the first six months of the negotiated term. The benefits of participating at MIDEM continued for us in 2014, as we opened an office in the United Kingdom, leading to product sales in almost every European territory. Due to our increased global visibility, Thirty Tigers signed a distributor for Australia and New Zealand in October 2014 and ended the year with an approximate $700,000 in export sales. We anticipate international sales in excess of $1,000,000 in 2015.

This increase in export sales also resulted in an additional two jobs in the United States, with the potential to add more positions as sales continue to grow. Thirty Tigers plans on continuing to expand into Japan, South America and other territories, potentially through a company that we met with at MIDEM.

The assistance the International Trade Administration provided was hugely helpful to us. The business relationships that we built at MIDEM are not only going to allow us to sell music in those markets, but the promotional support that we can now arrange for our artists are going to allow them to tour in those countries, as well. Those acts will employ road staff and musicians that live, work and pay taxes here at home. The multiplier effect that has come from the help the ITA has provided continues to pay off, not just for Thirty Tigers and our acts, but for many related companies and free-lance workers.

This is a great example of how a little help and direction from the government can be helpful to business and workers alike. We and our artists are very appreciative.

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New Top Markets Series Provides Data and Analysis to Help U.S. Exporters Compare Opportunities Across Borders

July 14, 2015

Marcus Jadotte is the International Trade Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry & Analysis.

Top Markets Series: A Market Assessment Tool for U.S. ExportersLast year, the United States exported $2.34 trillion worth of goods and services—an all-time record. Exports from the United States in 2014 equaled the entire gross domestic product of Brazil and exceeded all commercial output in India, Italy, or Mexico. What is more, exports are an increasingly important aspect of the U.S. economy. As the significance of exporting grows, the Obama administration and the Department of Commerce is committed to providing the data and analytics U.S. companies need to compete effectively in foreign markets.

To meet this objective, the International Trade Administration (ITA) is leading the NEI Next Initiative, a customer service-driven strategy that is delivering improved information to American businesses to help them win when competing abroad. Of course, winning in foreign markets is often a case of investing resources as strategically as possible – i.e., picking which market to introduce a new product; or choosing whether to expand in one market or focus on opportunities elsewhere. That is why we are proud to release a new product line today: ITA’s Top Markets Series.

The Top Markets Series is a collection of 19 sector-specific reports that are designed to help U.S. exporters compare markets across borders, using market intelligence and data to inform decision-making. From aircraft parts to civil nuclear energy, green buildings and cloud computing, to media and entertainment, each Top Markets Report includes commentary on opportunities, trends, and challenges facing U.S. exporters in the largest potential markets. The reports combine the unique expertise of ITA’s sector leads in Industry & Analysis with economic data and the views of our staff stationed around the world.  Exporters can access full reports or view individual sections; collectively, the series includes more than 200 pieces of individually-viewable market intelligence.

In addition to U.S. businesses, Top Markets Reports are a tool that federal agencies are using to prioritize export promotion activities and trade policy initiatives. Our efforts will make all of us more efficient, as we target limited resources at those markets and sectors most likely to benefit from U.S. government support. For example, within ITA, we are working to coordinate our trade missions, trade fairs, and International Buyers Program recruitment with the strategic opportunities identified in the Top Markets series.

We anticipate updating ITA’s Top Markets rankings on an ongoing basis and will release new reports annually. Over the next several months, we look forward to hearing feedback from exporters and will incorporate suggestions into next year’s versions of the Top Markets Reports.

To download a full report or view individual case studies within each report, visit http://www.trade.gov/topmarkets.

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Startup Global Seminar Pilot Visits Nashville

July 13, 2015

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

This is a guest blog by Clark Buckner, a full time podcaster hosting and producing The Nashville Entrepreneurship Story Podcast.

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center recently hosted the nation’s second Startup Global Seminar. Each seminar is driven by local organizers and focuses on the unique needs of the city’s entrepreneurs. The goal is to encourage startups to export internationally and make the process simple and accessible. Josh Mandell, Senior Advisor for Innovation and Competitiveness at the United States Department of Commerce, refers to startups as the “lifeblood of our economy,” yet many do not initially consider going global or are confused by the process. Startup Global began as the Department of Commerce’s solution to making government resources available to startups and entrepreneurs.

A big way companies can begin to export is by connecting with the resources established locally and federally through the Department of Commerce. Pat Kirwan, Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat, said, “When companies run into problems, they tend to talk to either a banker, an accountant, a lawyer, or their economic development organization that they’ve been dealing with. In this case, it would be the Nashville Entrepreneurship Center, right? So that’s their first stop, but the fact that those folks are plugged into this wider community of the state, and federal resources, all of the sudden the company has access to an enormous amount of resource help…companies have access to diplomats in over 70 countries.”

Michael Ralsky, President of GlobalGR, discussed how he assisted a motor vehicle client in finding a business partner in Vietnam. The Department of Commerce contacted Vietnam’s U.S. Embassy, which conducted a search that yielded 11 potential business partners. That client is now established in Vietnam and has sold more than 500 motor vehicles as a result. He says the best way for new businesses to move into exports is to “call up [the local export assistance center] office, tell them what country you’re interested in exporting, and they will then turn around and provide you with a menu of services that they can help you with, to help you get exporting.”

As for the startups themselves, the key to innovation, according to David Green, the “1st Enterprise Entrepreneur” at Schneider Electric, is to train employees “from the day they come in the building” in the entrepreneurial mindset. An innovative team is essential to the success of his project, Nashville-based Connected Home. This focus on innovation, David says, is key to the survival and adaptation of modern day businesses. When asked if he can train innovation, he says, “it’s happened – right here in these very walls.”

In the modern age of global digital commerce, access to international markets is key to the success of a growing business. To learn more about resources available, contact one of 107 local export assistance centers around the country or visit us on the web.

Listen to the interviews from Nashville Startup Global Seminar

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Benin is Powering Up and Wants U.S. Products and Expertise

July 10, 2015
Omar Arouna,Benin Ambassador to the United States

The Benin Ambassador to the United States, Omar Arouna wants more Americans to do business in Benin.

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

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

It’s not every day when a credentialed ambassador to the United States leans over, eyes brightening, and says, “If small U.S. companies come to Africa, they will make money.  A lot of money.”

He smiles as he savors the words a lot, as if tasting something delicious.

But then it’s back to reality.  He’s asked about perceptions among U.S. businesspeople that much of Africa is decidedly unpalatable, unhealthy, unfriendly, and unprofitable.

The Benin Ambassador to the United States Omar Arouna has heard it all before.  “Benin has been a stable democracy since 1990,” he explains.  “We have the same values, the same aspirations as the American people.  We see things exactly like the American people.”

He wants more Americans to do business in Benin, a country the size of Kentucky on the coast of West Africa. Benin’s 10 million people work mostly in the service sector and in agriculture, where the main exports are cotton, pineapple, and cashews.

The port of Cotonou provides access to the sea for the inland countries of Mali, Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso.  “We’re a small county with a big footprint,” said Arouna, referring to Benin’s location and access to a much larger regional market of more than 300 million people, including its big next door neighbor Nigeria.

But perhaps the best money-making opportunity is in Benin, with immediate business to be generated, thanks to $400 million from the people of the United States.  Benin has entered into a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an arm of the State Department that doles out development dollars in exchange for demonstrable progress in good governance and building a market economy.

Power to the People                                                  

Combustion Associates does business in Benin

Combustion Associates confirms that Benin has been good for business.

This round of funding (a previous round helped build a port) is to strengthen the energy sector with a focus on renewables, including bio mass and solar.  More power generation at cheaper prices is needed to boost productivity, and any surplus can be sold to the regional power grid for consumption by other countries all the way to Cote d’Voire.

“We need the technology and expertise of the smaller U.S. companies,” said Arouna.  “The scale of what we need is better suited to the smaller company.  We need consulting services, hardware, even companies and investors to build and operate power-generating facilities.”

He said that there are a number of small U.S. companies working in Benin, including Combustion Associates, which manufactures portable power plants.  The owners, who are clients of the Commercial Service, confirmed that Benin has been good for business.

The Benin government is responsible for managing the MCC funds procurement process, and while the assistance is not tied (there’s no requirement that U.S. contractors be used), Arouna made it clear that he hopes U.S. companies will submit proposals when the tenders start coming out via the government’s website in late August and continuing into next year.

For businesses wanting to hit the ground running, a trade mission to Benin is scheduled for August 3-7.  If you want to talk business, Arouna says you can contact him by email directly at the embassy in Washington, D.C., emphasizing that you “don’t even need an appointment.”

“Better yet,” he said, ”I’ll meet you at the airport in Benin.”  And he’s not saying that to be diplomatic.  He means it.

For more information on the trade mission to Benin, visit the trade mission page on the Embassy’s website. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Metropolitan Areas Set Export Highs in 2014

July 9, 2015

Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

2014 Metropolitan Area ExportsToday, U.S. businesses are increasingly taking advantage of export opportunities. The data makes it clear. Companies based in the United States that sell their world-class goods to the 96 percent of potential customers who live outside our borders are critical to both the local and national economy. This is evident in today’s release of the 2014 Metropolitan Area Export Overview. The report highlights data on goods exported from U.S. metropolitan areas in 2014. Some of the nation’s most prominent cities are leading in trade and setting new export records.

Metro area exporters are breaking down trade barriers around the world and are expanding their businesses by reaching global markets. Doing so enhances the international competiveness of U.S. firms while also creating more well-paying jobs here at home. U.S. metropolitan area goods exports exceeded $1.44 trillion in 2014, up $36 billion from 2013, and accounted for 89 percent of total U.S. goods exports last year. There were 139 metro areas that registered record goods exports in 2014, and for the first time ever, 161 metropolitan areas each tallied goods exports worth more than $1 billion in 2014.

The energy and excitement metropolitan areas bring throughout the nation is driving creativity and partnerships. U.S. businesses are exporting the quality products of American innovation and hard work to customers across the globe. For example, during the past several years, we have seen a boom in the great city of Houston. For a third consecutive year, the city has ranked number one with total goods exports of $119 billion.

The metropolitan areas of New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Detroit round out the top five metropolitan areas for goods exports. Twenty-nine of the top 50 metropolitan area exporters recorded positive growth in goods exports between 2013 and 2014. Twenty-six of these areas set record export levels last year.

Top 50-ranked metropolitan areas that exhibited particularly high growth in goods exports from 2013 to 2014, included El Paso, Texas (up nearly 40 percent); San Antonio, Texas (nearly 34 percent); Charleston, S.C. (up more than 69 percent); and Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, S.C. (up nearly 25 percent) — each reaching a record for that metro area.

For more information on ITA’s Metropolitan Export Series including a complete methodology and FAQs, visit the Metropolitan Export Series homepage.

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