Posts Tagged ‘Commercial Service’


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.


A Century-Old Company’s Global Manufacturing Success: Story of a Harbor Tug

October 23, 2015

Melissa Blackledge is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Export Assistance Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

We’ve all heard sad stories like this: an American manufacturing company that has been around for decades closes because it can’t compete in today’s complex, global marketplace. It’s an unfortunate reality experienced by many local communities. However, a recent announcement from Cleveland-based Great Lakes Towing Company suggests its fate will be more favorable.


Great Lakes Towing Company will deliver a tugboat like this in early 2016 to the Port of Quetzal in Guatemala, marking the 116 year-old company’s latest expansion into Central America. The sale was supported by U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service staff in Cleveland and at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.

Recently, the 116-year-old company began construction on a tugboat destined for delivery in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, marking the company’s latest expansion into a Central American market. At the tugboat’s ceremonial “*keel laying”, local leaders gathered to celebrate Great Lakes’ ability to compete globally and highlighted the company’s role as a creator of highly paid manufacturing jobs in Northern Ohio.

*In ship-building, the keel laying marks the first stage of the joining together of a boat to officially mark its construction.

Once completed, this tugboat will have quite the story to tell. The deal between Great Lakes Towing Company and Regimen de Pensiones y Jubilaciones del Personal de la Empresa Portuaria took several years to complete and saw contributions from U.S. Commercial Service trade experts in the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, as well as within the United States.

Here are a few other tales this little tugboat could share:

  • Many manufacturing industries, competition in the ship-building business is fierce. Great Lakes Towing’s success in Guatemala is another sign that demonstrates that American workers and products are desirable – and that American companies can win in today’s worldwide, economic stage.
  • It can take a team for small- or medium-sized businesses to successfully export – Businesses with Made-in-America products or services have this team readily available within the U.S. Commercial Service. In the case of Great Lakes Towing, they worked with trade specialists at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala to better understand the market and ensure a transparent negotiations process.

    Ron Rasmus, President and Director of Great Lakes Towing’s parent company, summarized the support from the U.S. Commercial Service by saying, “Working through the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala gave us legitimacy. There was a language barrier, there was a cultural barrier, so the company could have not done this without their help.”


Upon starting the tugboat’s construction, the buyers welded their signature to pieces that will be attached to the hull of the new boat.

The feel good story of the Great Lakes Towing company doesn’t have to end once they deliver the new tugboat. Companies who manufacture Made-in-America products can model their own success after Great Lakes’. The first step is to reach out to the team that’s ready to help American businesses compete in today’s global marketplace at the U.S. Commercial Service. With offices in U.S. Embassies around the globe, and 109 cities across the U.S., the U.S. Commercial Service can craft an export strategy tailored to your industry.

If your business is thinking about expanding into international markets, or if you’re looking to elevate your current export strategy to the next level, contact the U.S. Commercial Service trade experts in your state.

They are happy to help your team create its own exporting success story.


Trade Winds—Africa: Taking the Next Step in U.S.-Africa Business Relations

September 14, 2015

Tanya Cole is the Senior U.S. Commercial Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Today in Ethiopia and in four other growing African markets, 10 U.S. companies are exploring opportunities to do business in Africa. These five simultaneous trade missions are all part of Trade Winds—Africa, the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to the continent, ultimately bringing more than 100 U.S. companies to eight growing African markets.

Ambassador to Ethiopia

Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach says Ethiopia is a leader in economic development in Africa

For the ten companies that came to Ethiopia as part of Trade Winds, we were able to connect them directly to business development opportunities here on the ground. These are promising opportunities in sectors ranging from IT security to health and beauty products.

As a commercial officer in Ethiopia, it’s easy to see why U.S. companies consider Africa a promising market. Sub-Saharan Africa is the second-fastest growing region in the world. Ethiopia’s average GDP growth during the last five years has been higher than 7 percent, and the country’s strategic location, stable security, and low corruption make it stand out. The country has shown its commitment to economic growth, and the United States is showing its commitment to support that growth.

What also makes Ethiopia an attractive market is that companies doing business here have the opportunity to make an important impact on a developing country. As H.E. Ambassador to the United States Girma Birru said in February, African leaders and consumers are ready to do business with the United States. They recognize the quality of American goods and services, and they know that American companies help develop infrastructure, create trained workforces, and focus on corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Our Commercial Service team here in Addis Ababa is excited to see how our ten attending companies will build on this mission. We are grateful for the support we received from our partners at the State Department and the Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center in making this mission a success — especially the support of Ambassador Haslach, who is welcoming the first certified Commerce trade mission since opening the new U.S. Commercial Service office in the Embassy to Ethiopia.

I am confident that all 100-plus companies attending Trade Winds—Africa will find learn some great market intelligence, make important business connections, and find the kind of inroads that can help them succeed in Africa. I look forward to the next steps in growing the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship, and to continuing to work with U.S. companies and the country of Ethiopia to develop mutual benefit.

You can follow updates about Trade Winds on Twitter using #TradeWinds15, and you can learn more about doing business in Africa at


Virginia’s Engagement in the Global Marketplace

September 2, 2015

This is a guest blog by Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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

Virginia’s International Trade Success

The Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL)

Members of the The Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL)

The Commonwealth of Virginia was founded as a business venture more than 400 years ago by the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock company formed both to bring profits to its shareholders and establish an English colony in the New World.  Since its founding, the Commonwealth has remained a journey of economic opportunity, a great place to launch new businesses and grow existing ones.

About 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power resides outside of America.  Thus, helping Virginia businesses sell their goods and services abroad is one of Virginia’s most effective business expansion strategies.

In 2014, Virginia exported goods and services valued at more than $36 billion, including $15.1 billion in manufactured goods, $16.9 billion in services, $3 billion in agriculture products, and more than $1 billion in mineral fuels.   These exports went to 212 destinations throughout the world. Virginia company exports support over 250,000 jobs in Virginia.

Ten years ago, in the mountains of Rocky Gap, Virginia, American Mine Research (AMR) decided it was time to reinvigorate its international sales efforts. AMR provides monitoring and control products for the mining industry, and the company recognized the opportunity for its products to be sold around the world.

AMR contacted the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), which provides export assistance to companies across Virginia. With VEDP’s assistance, AMR established distributorships in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. Thanks to AMR’s commitment to growing international sales and Virginia’s export assistance programs, the company is growing from every angle.

New Trade Alliance Helps Virginia Companies Expand International Sales

Building on the success stories of hundreds of Virginia exporters like AMR, Governor McAuliffe announced in July 2015 the creation of a new initiative to increase international trade in Virginia. The Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL) expands Virginia’s nationally recognized international trade program through formal partnerships with Virginia’s industry associations and public universities to serve their member companies as they expand international sales. During its first five years, VITAL seeks to grow Virginia exports by $1.6 billion and create 14,000 trade-supported jobs. By exponentially accelerating Virginia companies’ engagement with the global economy, VITAL will create stronger, more resilient businesses and more jobs for Virginians.

The VITAL initiative demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to helping existing Virginia businesses succeed in the international marketplace, which makes our economy even stronger. The Governor has made the program a priority and reallocated $1 million toward the initiative through flexibility granted to him in the state budget.

VITAL is managed by VEDP and comprised of 13 partner organizations, including industry associations and public universities.  VITAL will build upon Virginia’s proven export assistance programs, including tailored market research, face-to-face meetings with qualified partners overseas, and VEDP’s award-winning Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program.

For more information, visit


Commercial Service Philippines Completes Renewable Fuels Association Trade Mission

July 28, 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.

Glacial Lakes Energy in B2B meeting

Glacial Lakes Energy in B2B meeting

As part of my summer 2015 Asia Team outreach, I went to Manila, where the U.S. Renewable Fuels Association, along with six U.S. ethanol companies, met as part of a U.S. Commercial Service-organized trade mission. The objective of the mission was for U.S companies to gain a deeper understanding of the ethanol market and business potential in the Philippines. The U.S. Embassy Commerce, Economic and Agriculture officers and local government agencies provided in-depth presentations on the renewable fuel environment, rules and regulations, and business opportunities.

As part of the trade mission, the Commercial Service Manila office arranged more than 50 B2B meetings between the U.S. delegates and local Philippine companies to discuss industry trends and potential opportunities for partnership.

On the evening of the first day, a reception was held gathering the mission delegates to mingle with local businesses, organizations, and industry practitioners.  Day two included a tour of the International Container Terminal Services at the Manila port, followed by an up-close and personal meeting with the President of the San Miguel Corporation, one of the Philippines’ most diversified conglomerates in beverages, food, packaging, fuel, oil, power, mining and infrastructure.

The six mission participants represented some of the U.S.’s leaders in ethanol production, namely: Buffalo Lake Advanced Biofuels; Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company; CHS, Inc.; Glacial Lakes Energy, LLC; Lakeview Energy LLC; and Renewable Products Marketing Group.

Commercial Attaché Totayo introduces U.S. companies at reception

Commercial Attaché Totayo introduces U.S. companies at reception

Commercial Attaché Aliza Totayo and the Commercial Service Manila staff worked diligently for several months to organize this important trade mission. As a result, the delegates expressed praise for the quality and value of the trade mission and referred to the excellent business potential and insights provided into the Philippine ethanol market.

Find out about upcoming trade missions.


Secretary Pritzker Swears in New Commercial Service Officers

June 20, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Secretary Penny Pritzker swears in new commercial officers.

Secretary Penny Pritzker swears in new commercial officers.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today swore in 24 new Foreign Commercial Service Officers and one Intellectual Property Attachè at the Commerce Department. The ceremony marked an exciting beginning to these officers’ careers in overseas and domestic markets where they will work to strengthen the American economy by supporting U.S. businesses in the global marketplace.

The administration is committed to increasing U.S. exports, which support millions of jobs.  U.S. exports have set records for four consecutive years, reaching $2.3 trillion in 2013. These exports now support 11.3 million jobs in the United States. The recent launch of the NEI/NEXT campaign by Secretary Pritzker has built on the momentum of the recent growth to encourage American companies to take their business to overseas markets.

Expanding trade and investment is a central part of the Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda’ and having an overseas presence is one critical way to support U.S. businesses seeking to grow in foreign markets.

During a recent trip to Burma, Secretary Pritzker announced the Department of Commerce will expand its overseas resources to help U.S. businesses navigate additional global markets and sell their goods and services to customers all over the world. The Department’s International Trade Administration will add a total of 68 new positions and open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma. The expansion is largely focused on fast-growing markets in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  The Department of Commerce will soon add new offices in Africa and Asia in order to facilitate exports in these critical markets.

The new officers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from their prior private or public sector service. Of the more than 3,800 candidates, these 25 men and women were chosen because of their constant resourcefulness, tenacity, and of course, diplomacy.

These new Commercial Service Officers play a vital role in the enhancement of American businesses. They support U.S. businesses in overcoming trade barriers, finding global business opportunities and partners, and attracting investment to U.S. shores. These officers will be the boots on the ground, leading the charge to open new markets and helping companies compete in the global marketplace.


SelectUSA: Enhanced, Engaged… and in Japan!

March 20, 2014

Andrew Wylegala is the Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of the United States in Japan.

From left: SelectUSA Executive Director Vinai Thummalapally, Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari, and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy at the Investment Showcase in Tokyo. View more photos from the event on the ITA Facebook page.

From left: SelectUSA Executive Director Vinai Thummalapally, Japan Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari, and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy at the Investment Showcase in Tokyo. View more photos on the ITA Facebook page.

Japan is the second largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United States, with a total stock valued at $309.4 billion as of the end of 2012. According to our partners at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan registered its second-highest ever outbound investment level in 2012 at $122 billion, and Japanese investors chose to send 26 percent of that to American shores.

FDI isn’t just about capital: In 2011 more than 686,600 U.S. workers were employed by the U.S. subsidiaries of Japanese companies with an average wage of $78,356.

It’s clear that our investment relationship with Japan is a key contributor to the U.S. economy. That’s why our SelectUSA team and Commercial Service personnel in Japan joined U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to host an investment showcase in Tokyo.

Japan’s Minister of State for Economic & Fiscal Policy Akira Amari and Ambassador Kennedy stressed at the investment showcase that few aspects of the broad United States-Japan partnership are more mutually beneficial than investment.

Dynamism was the first key concept. Japan has resumed its role as a powerhouse in cross-border direct investment. Japanese investors also continue to believe in the opportunities offered by the U.S. market.

For example, in 2012-13, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda expanded already sizable U.S. manufacturing footprints, contributing to the renaissance in American manufacturing.

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So what’s new? A wave of investment is under way, embracing sectors from cellular communications to carbon fiber; improved tomato seeds to Kentucky bourbon; economy hotels to the limits of the Japanese and American imagination!

A testament to the success of this investment showcase is Leslie Ken Yamada, president of Japan’s Sanikleen. He spoke about his company bringing its business model to Hawaii, having made important connections in the Hawaiian market with the help of the SelectUSA team.

Osaka-based Daiwa House and Dallas-headquartered Lincoln Property Company signed a memorandum of understanding to develop $1.5 billion worth of multi-family homes during the next three years, beginning with a joint project in Ft. Worth.

Mutuality was the second theme as Minister Amari and others stressed that the benefits of cross-border direct investment are multi-directional, flowing well beyond the country of investment, in the form of access to new markets and the generation of ideas that bubble up when individuals from diverse backgrounds work side-by-side.

Ambassador Kennedy observed: “Not only do investments create growth and jobs; they create advances that benefit society as a whole.”

For example, Olympus Surgical Technologies broke ground in December for a $37 million facility in Brooklyn Park, Minn. As an R&D, design, and manufacturing operation, the improvements in non-invasive surgery that engineers from both countries will develop in Minnesota will benefit patients worldwide.

We’ll continue to work closely with our friends in Japan to promote and facilitate investment. Thanks to the Association of American State Offices, JETRO, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and the Japanese government for contributing so much to our continued partnership.

If you’re a U.S. economic development organization aiming to attract increased FDI from Japan, please contact SelectUSA. We’re organizing a Road Show, May 19-23, in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, and we’d love to have you join! Last year it sold out, so get in touch soon!


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