Cloud Computing Exports Drive Growth at Home and Abroad

August 27, 2015

Brian Larkin is a Senior Policy Advisor in ITA’s Office of Digital Services Industries.

Cloud computing, which allows companies of all sizes to easily and inexpensively access computing resources, has become a key enabling tool for firms in many global markets. It should therefore come as no surprise that corporate cloud spending may reach $191 billion by 2020, more than triple the 2013 total, according to Forester Research. U.S. providers have leveraged technological expertise, innovative approaches, first-mover advantages, and other strengths to earn leading international positions in the delivery of cloud services. While they are sure to benefit from growing demand, these trendsetting firms still face challenges in some critical markets.

The 2015 Top Markets Report on Cloud Computing explores this global landscape. International Trade Administration (ITA) policy experts and embassy staff contributed to the report, which features profiles of countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, as well as an overall ranking.

All but a few of the world’s top enterprise cloud providers are based in the United States. These firms may specialize in bits and bytes instead of the physical shipments that trade discussions often evoke, but they are major contributors to our nation’s exports. In fact, digitally-deliverable services, a category that includes cloud computing, have accounted for over 60 percent of U.S. service exports in recent years and been an area in which the United States enjoys a substantial trade surplus.

The U.S. economy is far from the only one benefiting from the popularity of cloud services, however. These make it easy for companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to quickly access advanced computing resources without having to invest in and manage costly technical infrastructures. They unlock technologies and platforms that could otherwise be out of reach, enabling firms in all industries to enhance business processes, lower expenses, and raise productivity – a key contributor to broader economic growth. And for those digital startups looking to launch the next must-have app, they provide a host of useful tools. It’s thus little wonder that foreign technology groups like Rovio, Spotify, and Shazam chose U.S. cloud providers to help them achieve global success.

Despite the clear benefits of cloud adoption, some countries are considering or have enacted policies that would limit their domestic companies’ access to these services. These include rules preventing data from moving freely across national borders, such as from an SME in one country to a cloud provider with servers in another, such as the United States. Data flow restrictions undercut economies of scale and make it extremely difficult for cloud firms to offer affordable, reliable access to productivity-boosting resources.

Among other justifications, policymakers may believe that by requiring data to be stored locally, they can stimulate the growth of their domestic technology sector. However, these mandates are far more likely to make it impractical for cloud providers to continue supplying local firms, potentially cutting off a wide array of enterprises from the most sophisticated services available. Accordingly, the European Center for International Political Economy has found that recently proposed or implemented data localization rules in several countries would cause GDP losses.

ITA is a leading voice in the U.S. Government’s global engagement on regulatory issues affecting U.S. cloud providers, such as data localization. Every day, ITA engages with foreign leaders and policymakers, analyzes fast-changing market dynamics, and works with inter-agency colleagues to help ensure that U.S. firms receive equitable market access overseas.

We also strive to provide useful information to U.S. cloud providers big and small as they seek specific export opportunities. We believe that this year’s Top Markets Report on Cloud Computing does just that, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.


New U.S.-Mexico West Rail Bypass Bridge First in Over a Century

August 26, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

 On Tuesday, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined U.S. and Mexican government leaders in Brownsville, Texas, at a ceremony to inaugurate the West Rail Bypass International Bridge, the first new international rail crossing between the United States and Mexico since 1910.
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined U.S. and Mexican government leaders in Brownsville, Texas, at a ceremony to inaugurate the West Rail Bypass International Bridge, the first new international rail crossing between the United States and Mexico since 1910.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined U.S. and Mexican government leaders in Brownsville, Texas, at a ceremony to inaugurate the West Rail Bypass International Bridge, the first new international rail crossing between the United States and Mexico since 1910.

During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the deep and growing commercial partnership between our two countries; the vital importance of the U.S.-Mexico border to our bilateral economic ties; and the need for action to spur North American competitiveness in the increasingly globalized economy of the 21st century.

Secretary Pritzker noted how the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has led to the creation of jobs and opportunity for both U.S. and Mexican communities. Yet, at the same time, our commercial crossings at the border were not modernized after NAFTA came into force, leaving us with infrastructure that was built to handle roughly a quarter of our current trade volume.

To address these challenges and to ensure that our border region remains a staging ground for greater commercial and economic activity long into the future, Secretary Pritzker and her U.S. and Mexican partners have pledged to make the West Rail Bypass only one part of a long-term, concerted effort to replace outdated infrastructure and continue to develop a modern, efficient, and secure border. Because, as the Secretary stated, “we cannot wait another 100 years before we inaugurate the next new bridge or road connecting our countries.”

To that end, we are prioritizing the development and execution of border infrastructure projects as part of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED). So far, in addition to the West Rail, we have seen some progress. For example, we have reduced wait times from 3 hours to roughly 30 minutes at the port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana, the busiest land crossing in the world. And we more than doubled the capacity at the Nogales-Mariposa port of entry; now, that facility can handle trucks as many as 4,000 a day – up from about 1,600 – and process up to $35 billion in goods each year.

This is only the beginning. Our focus on infrastructure will continue long into the future, as we seek to advance the vision of the HLED: to support a vibrant, competitive North American economy, and to make it easier for U.S. and Mexican companies to do business together.

Before the West Rail event, Secretary Pritzker met with a delegation of business leaders from Brownsville to discuss how the city can capitalize on its strategic location and leverage Department of Commerce resources to spur new economic growth and opportunities for local workers and families.


Six Reasons to Look South to Mexico and Central America’s Infrastructure Build-Out

August 21, 2015

Erin Aucar recently completed an internship with the International Trade Administration’s Office of the Western Hemisphere

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

Infrastructure is the buzzword for companies looking for new business opportunities in Latin America.  The region is undergoing a major infrastructure build-out as economies and populations grow.  Large scale public-private partnership projects in the transportation sector abound, particularly in roadways, airports, and ports.  Numerous opportunities exist in related industries as well, such as renewable energy, water resources, environmental technologies, rural development, aircraft parts, building parts, and more.  If your company works in or supplies the infrastructure sector and its many related industries, this is an opportunity not to be missed!

This September 9th ITA’s Commercial Service Office in Denver is hosting an event to introduce your company to the latest infrastructure opportunities in Mexico and Central America as part of ITA’s Look South initiative. Here’s why you should attend:

  1. Mexico is committed to investing in infrastructure. The Government of Mexico has initiated a series of major reforms known as the National Infrastructure Program (PNI) which includes major projects intended for execution through 2018. For example, the PNI identifies 84 discrete projects in the water sector and 118 electricity sector projects. They are also in the midst of mega transportation projects such as expanding the Metrorail systems and the Mexico City airport. Read more in the U.S. Trade and Development Agency’s Mexico Project Resource Guide.
  2. El Salvador is modernizing its infrastructure with help from multilateral development banks. El Salvador has numerous ports, roads, and airports under expansion, upgrade, or development. Most projects are financed by multilateral development banks such as Inter-American Development Bank, Central American Bank for Economic Integration, as well as foreign development agencies or assistance programs including Millennium Challenge Corporation. Representatives from the Inter-American Development bank will be on hand at the event to discuss the $2.4 billion in approved projects the Bank is financing in El Salvador.
  3. Honduras is a renewable energy star! Honduras is ranked 20th worldwide in ITA’s Top Markets Report for renewable energy exports, and 7th for wind energy exports. The Honduran government is promoting renewable energy projects and offering various incentives for its development.
  4. Guatemala is a team player, working with other Central American nations to advance regional infrastructure. In April 2014, Guatemala signed an agreement with Mexico to build a natural gas pipeline linking both nations and enabling distribution of fuel throughout Central America. Honduras has also signed on to help develop the project which is valued at approximately $1billion and will be bid on in 2016.
  5. Our Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with each of these markets give your company a leg-up. FTAs offer benefits, like zero tariffs, to exporters and protections for investors in partner countries. Our FTAs have transformed Mexico and the group of six Central American countries that form CAFTA-DR into some of our principal trading partners. Together CAFTA-DR ranked 13th largest among U.S. export markets in the world in 2014, and the 3rd largest in Latin America behind Mexico and Brazil.

CS Denver’s September 9th event will introduce your company to the latest projects in each of these markets.  Experts will discuss procurement opportunities, bidding requirements, how to qualify, sources of financing, and more!  Participants will have the chance to meet one-on-one with representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, Minority Business Development Agency, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and Commercial Service in Mexico and Central America to discuss opportunities for their company and get their questions answered.  Sign up today!


Business Opportunities in West Africa: Attend the Trade Mission to the Canary Islands & Africagua

August 20, 2015

John Saylor is the Chair of the District Export Council of Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The Canary Islands may not be huge in geography, but they are becoming an economic force in West Africa.

Located just 62 miles off the coast of West Africa while providing all the infrastructures, services, and advantages that Europe has to offer, the Canaries are an ideal location for operational centers:

  • Top logistic services and maritime connectivity with more than 40 ports in Africa
  • A competitive local labor market
  • Maximum guarantee of legal security and transparent fiscal regulations from a fully integrated EU legal system
  • A 4 percent corporate tax regime and multiple tax exemptions in indirect taxation

Why should your business export to West Africa?

At more than 5 percent GDP, West Africa had the strongest economic growth of the continent in 2014. This rapid growth is generating opportunities and prosperity in all industry sectors.

The Trade Mission to the Canary Islands & Africagua will help your firm access West African markets, find regional business partners, and highlight the advantages of setting up an operation in this booming hub.

The mission will include:

  • Expert briefings by U.S. Commercial Service and regional government officials about the opportunities and challenges of the region and advantages of setting up an operation in the Canary Islands
  • B2B business appointments with pre‐screened potential partners
  • Technical site visits in the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife
  • Exclusive networking receptions with local industry and government leaders
  • Optional participation in the Africagua Conference (island of Fuerteventura) for renewable energy and water sector firms to meet with Ministers and other government decision‐makers from 6 West African countries

To find your next customers and grow your business, join the Trade Mission to the Canary Islands & Africagua on November 16 – 20, 2015. I hope you’ll join us on this mission.


Commercial Service Taiwan Completes U.S. Trade Day and Select USA Roadshow

August 19, 2015

Andrew Edlefsen is the Director of the Las Vegas U.S. Export Assistance Center and currently serves as Global Asia Team Leader.  He has been with ITA for eight years.

CS Taipei Senior Commercial Officer, Ireas Cook (second from right) with state representatives at the U.S. Trade Day opening ceremony.

CS Taipei Senior Commercial Officer, Ireas Cook (second from right) with state representatives at the U.S. Trade Day opening ceremony.

Earlier this month, I participated in the U.S. Trade Day and Select USA Roadshow in Taipei, Taiwan. The Commercial Service Taipei office, part of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), co-organized U.S. Trade Day, currently in its 4th year, in conjunction with the Taiwan Bureau of Foreign Trade’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

U.S. Trade Day has served as an effective platform for U.S. companies to understand the Taiwan business environment and meet with potential buyers and partners.  During the opening ceremony, AIT Director Kin Moy highlighted the burgeoning trade relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, noting that Taiwan was the U.S.’s 10th largest trading partner in 2014 with total bilateral trade in goods exceeding $67 billion. Among the driving forces for trade growth between Taiwan and the U.S. is foreign direct investment.  The U.S. is currently Taiwan’s largest foreign direct investor, and Taiwan is taking significant steps to reciprocate, as indicated by their strong presence at the 2013 and 2015 Select USA Investment Summits in Washington, DC.

U.S. Trade Day also served as the venue for the first day of the Select USA Taiwan Roadshow, the first event of its kind ever in Taiwan.  With stops in Taipei and Kaohsiung, this roadshow featured five states and one city.  Idaho, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, McKinney (Texas), and Virginia – participated to introduce their respective investment destinations to potential Taiwan investors.  CS Taiwan staff also arranged networking events and B2B meetings between representatives of the participating U.S. states and Taiwan businesses.

The U.S. delegates expressed praise for the quality and value of these events and appreciated the chance to promote their investment opportunities to such a large Taiwan audience.


The International Trade Administration Signs New Partnership Agreement with FirstMerit

August 18, 2015

Cody Dietrich works in the Strategic Partnerships Office at the International Trade Administration

FirstMerit & ITA celebrate new partnership agreement.

FirstMerit & ITA celebrate new partnership agreement.

The International Trade Administration (ITA)  recently signed a Strategic Partnership agreement with FirstMerit Bank at FirstMerit’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio .

This agreement was made possible through ITA’s Strategic Partnership Program, designed to collaborate with private corporations, trade associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and educational institutions to create a force multiplier effect—increasing our marketing channels, industry expertise, logistical capabilities, and, ultimately, our value in bringing more U.S. companies the assistance they need to grow their exports. Working cooperatively, ITA and partners conduct outreach activities to the U.S. small to medium sized business community and international buyers about ITA programs and services to help them grow international sales.

Here at ITA, we knew FirstMerit’s programs and services could be a crucial resource for businesses looking to go global. FirstMerit’s International Banking Division helps U.S. businesses compete in global markets by providing export financing services. These services include letters of credit, documentary collections, foreign exchange advisory and payments services and U.S. government-guaranteed working capital loan programs.

FirstMerit will work with ITA on programs covering exporting trends, geographic information and industry-specific intelligence.

FirstMerit will work with ITA on programs covering exporting trends, geographic information and industry-specific intelligence.

The Strategic Partnership was signed at FirstMerit’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio. “We are pleased to be recognized by the Department of Commerce as a financial resource partner for Midwest businesses currently exporting or looking to export their goods around the world,” Paul G. Greig, chairman, president and CEO of FirstMerit.  FirstMerit’s expertise in helping small businesses tap into export potential will further ITA’s goals of strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry and expand access to export financing.


Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Promotes Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Pittsburgh

August 14, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews traveled to Pittsburgh to engage with the city’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs and see how the Steel City has become an innovation hub by bringing together its research institutions, incubator and accelerator partners, and technology associations.

To begin the day, Deputy Secretary Andrews joined leaders from Pittsburgh’s innovation sector in launching the next installment of Startup Global, an initiative designed to help more startup firms think global from the earliest stages of a company’s growth. The event was hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, Idea Foundry, Innovation Works, Pittsburgh Technology Council, and Thrill Mill and attracted dozens of early-stage companies looking to gain technical assistance on selling their goods and services worldwide.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews stressed that 96 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders and that early-stage companies should plan for international success from the start. The Startup Global pilot initiative aims to help more American startups scale their businesses quickly and internationally by collaborating with local partners. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced Startup Global in February, and Pittsburgh is the third in the pilot program’s series of educational events.

Deputy Secretary Andrews then met with leadership from Innovation Works, the single largest investor in seed-stage companies in the region. In addition to being a member of the Pittsburgh Startup Global Steering Committee, Innovation Works was also a recipient of a Commerce Department’s Economic Adjustment Assistance grant and an i6 Challenge winner. During the discussion, he stressed the vast resources the Commerce Department can offer and how Commerce can work alongside new businesses to shape the next great era of American entrepreneurship and innovation.

Later in the day, Andrews joined Congressman Mike Doyle on a tour of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute highlighting the technical leadership role the Robotics Institute has had in fostering innovation and incubating entrepreneurs in the robotics industry.

Andrews and Congressman Doyle then met the CEOs of 4Moms, Blue Belt Technologies, and Astrobotics,  companies who developed their company from technology shared at CMU, and are now promoting business and job growth not only in the Pittsburgh area, but across the nation and around the world. During a roundtable discussion with the three companies, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted ways in which the Commerce Department can continue to support the development of an advanced manufacturing sector in Pittsburgh.

As “America’s Innovation Agency,” the Department of Commerce prioritizes its support of startups, entrepreneurship and business incubators through intellectual property protection, collection and dissemination of data that helps build businesses, and investments in local economic development. We are constantly evolving to operate at the speed of business, and providing resources at each step of the business lifecycle to ensure our nation’s entrepreneurs succeed.


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