Posts Tagged ‘CS’

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More from the Libya and Algeria Trade Mission

February 24, 2010

Nicole Lamb-Hale is Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services.

Saturday, Feb. 20th

After a string of successful meetings in Algeria, I traveled with the companies to Libya, where I was again humbled and inspired by the very warm welcome I received.  This is the first trade mission to Libya since our countries resumed diplomatic relations, and you can sense its historic nature everywhere we go.  All around us, we sense the opportunities for U.S. companies to extend their products and services here.  This emerging market has huge potential and the government has tremendous liquid capital to fund and support programs and partnerships with U.S. businesses.  The Libyan Economic Development Board offered us an overview of the commercial climate and of their interest in infrastructure programs focusing on transportation, communications, housing, utilities, health-care, education and energy/power services.  In Libya, foreign direct investment can be wholly foreign-owned or part of a shared partnership.  However, it is clear the government will support joint partnerships as well as businesses that want to create long-term investments in the country.  I am excited to dig into the details in the days ahead…

Sunday, Feb. 21st

We scheduled over 150 meetings between our companies and various public and private sector partners in the days ahead.  Kudos to the excellent local Commercial Service staff who organized so busy, useful and, ultimately, productive schedule for our trade mission participants!  Most of our meetings are “small group forums,” during which companies from a particular sector meet with local high-level decision makers and government officials who oversee the local development of that sector.  For example, we brought in our companies that build hospitals and create high-tech health-care technologies to meet with the Minister of Health and his team who are modernizing the Libyan health-care industry.   We brought in our military and defense contractors to meet with the Minister of Public Security (sort of a mix of our Interior and Homeland Security Departments) to discuss procurement processes and what our companies could offer in terms of products and training.  Our construction companies met with the Ministry of Housing and Utility Projects…I think you get the idea here, and it is inspiring to see the happy faces on our companies after we facilitate these connections!

Monday, Feb. 22nd

This is my last full day on this trade mission.  While I am excited to return to the United States, I will be missing my new Algerian and Libyan friends, as well as the wonderful people I have met from the U.S. private sector.  I look forward to follow the progress of the new partnerships and new investments we helped jumpstart in North Africa.  While formal meetings can generate many successes, the less formal dinners and receptions at times make for better networking opportunities.  Let me just share one such instance.  At a dinner sponsored by the Libyan Businessmen’s Council, I sat next to the Under Secretary for Economy and Trade, the charming Mr. Sarkez, and we were joined by the CEO of Libyan Airlines.  While discussing Boeing, one of our companies on this mission, my Libyan colleagues became so eager to learn more that they secured new meetings for Boeing with the Minister of Transportation for the following day.  The company’s representatives extended their stay!  Other companies had the same experience.  These fantastic connections that came out of this historic trade mission make me want to stay and do more to promote the development of trade and business…but tomorrow it is back to the USA for me!

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Strategic Partnerships and the National Export Initiative

February 22, 2010

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Adam Wilczewski is the Director of Strategic Partnerships in the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Friday afternoon I got a heads-up from one of our Strategic Partnership managers, Bob McEntire, about a news report on an Atlanta television station about Secretary Locke’s visit to the UPS operations center in Doraville, Georgia.  In addition to a synopsis of the visit, the report embodies the Administration’s push to promote its National Export Initiative and the benefits of the work we can do with our public-private partners.  It’s good to see the private sector working progressively with the Department of Commerce to help increase exports and to create more jobs.

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Duluth Export Summit

January 22, 2010

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Amelia Goeppinger is an International Trade Specialist serving in the Minneapolis U.S. Export Assistance Center with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a significant export summit led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar in Duluth, Minnesota  – the fourth summit she has held to promote the importance of exporting in her state.  Sen. Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion, is working with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to encourage the expansion of trade among businesses in her state through summits that can inform the private sector about economic opportunities through international trade.  Minnesota manufacturers and service providers play a major role in trade around the globe, and their participation is expected to increase as the world’s economy grows.

The senator kicked off the Duluth Export Summit by championing the relationship between exports and job creation, and during the summit she facilitated and led a panel discussion on the opportunities of exporting with local experts from the Minnesota office of ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service and representatives from the Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Trade Office.  Thirty representatives from local businesses and other interested parties listened to the presentations, which were followed by a spirited question-and-answer session.

My client, Epicurean Cutting Surfaces, was the highlighted company.  The local Fox News channel interviewed Dave Benson, Epicurean’s chief financial officer, and I was asked to highlight and elaborate on the successes of the Featured U.S. Exporter (FUSE) service – which Epicurean is using effectively.  FUSE successfully identified qualified distribution partners for the company.

The success of the export summit is hopefully going to be replicated as an example of how the International Trade Administration, through its U.S. Commercial Service offices, collaborate with state congressional offices, exporting companies and local export resources to educate firms on the link between export growth and job creation.

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U.S. Firms Shining Bright (Green) in Copenhagen

December 14, 2009

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Frank Carrico is the Regional Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also served the U.S. Commercial Service in Iraq, Brazil, Ukraine, Japan, and Germany.

Following Secretary Gary Locke’s whirlwind schedule on December 11th – featuring a breakfast for Bright Green companies hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Denmark; a bilat with Sweden’s Trade Minister Ewa Björling to discuss the EU Presidency and cleantech cooperation; and a long evening with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – the “Bright Green” program began very early Saturday morning long before the trade show doors opened.  The Commercial Service’s (CS) Bright Green team helped the Secretary meet U.S. exhibitors, give remarks at a morning reception hosted by GE, visit with CS staff at the “Commerce/FedEx Meeting Place”, and formally open Bright Green with remarks focused squarely on the value of U.S. technology for mitigating climate change and for increasing jobs in the cleantech sector.

After the morning departure of the Secretary and his team, CS personnel turned full attention to the business of helping U.S. firms make the most of their time in Copenhagen, spending two hectic days coordinating matchmaking for our 40 U.S participants and partner companies with visiting Governors, foreign companies, officials, and royalty.  CS staff based in Copenhagen and colleagues from Stockholm, San Francisco, Lisbon, Oslo, the Hague, Helsinki, and Washington, DC, worked together to provide dynamic networking for all participants.  A detailed Cleantech Program Guide was widely circulated to COP15 delegates and the press to highlight the many exciting U.S. companies offering cleantech solutions.  The Governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire, was introduced to her State’s companies and updated on a May 2010 Swedish trade mission which will visit her State.  U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, Laurie Fulton, followed with a reception on Saturday evening for U.S. firms participating in Bright Green and their special guests.  Networking continued in full force throughout Sunday on the event floor at Bright Green, featuring special visits by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco; Director of White House Science and Technology Office, John Holdren; and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.  Throughout the event, FedEx and CS personnel worked with U.S. companies and visitors to explore additional ways these companies could succeed in the European market, especially by participating in a planned April cleantech trade mission.  U.S. Ambassadors Matthew Barzun (Sweden) and Bruce Oreck (Finland) were also able to meet with the U.S. Green Building Council and GE executives to explore expanding cleantech programs for U.S. companies active in the European Union.

Finally, it was Sunday evening – at last the Bright Green team relaxed for a late meal together.  The mood was positive and the conversation still focused on how to help the companies who had participated at Bright Green; we all agreed to correspond at length on contacts and results.  Our hope is that many of these firms had concrete results, and we certainly intend to stay in touch and follow up.

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Green Building Takes Root in Copenhagen

December 14, 2009

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Keith Curtis is a senior Foreign Service Officer currently based in the U.S. Commercial Service’s Office of International Operations. He is the Commercial Service’s senior advisor on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The atmosphere in Copenhagen is charged with activity.  Nobody is saving on personal energy – and everyone seems to be filled with a passion to make their point and make things happen.  At the U.S. Presence Center at Bright Green, the International Trade Administration (ITA) was making its point bright and early at the 9:00 Green Building Seminar and the 10:15 Bright Green, “Solutions at Your Doorstep” panel discussion.  Bringing the momentum of the Green Build Road Show to Copenhagen, we laid out for the delegates, NGOs, and students the wide and deep variety of everything going on in the States on Green Buildings.  The audience seemed to especially like the story of the Greening of the Empire State Building as told first hand by Clay Nesler, VP of  Johnson Controls (did you know Johnson Controls produced the first commercial thermostat?).  He described how the tens of thousands of windows would be replaced and lighting and installation changed office by office in the ¼ mile high icon of the American Industrial Age so that when done, they would be using 37% less electricity.  Roger Platt, VP of the US Green Building Council talked about how Green Building was spreading around the world, and the Department of Energy talked about how it was creating the first net-zero (uses no electricity from the Grid overall) large scale commercial building for their National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colorado.

The Green Building panel was followed by a second discussion organized by ITA to explain the wide range of bio-fuels, energy efficient manufacturing, and renewable energy technologies that the U.S. is delivering to the world. Kirsty Mac Donald of Intel talked about the modernization of the grid and all the intelligent hardware that will go into homes and vehicles.  Did you know that every wind turbine has a half a dozen IT chips in it?  Honeywell told how their bio-fuels are now being tested in regular commercial airlines for trans-Atlantic flights.  The audience was curious and impressed, but the students, who sported T-shirts saying, “How old will you be in 2050?” added a special sense of urgency to the challenges we were all talking about, although the industry presentations pointed them to ways that U.S. technology is already creating real change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

And we heard our second Cabinet official, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, speak to a full house as we looked forward to hearing our own Secretary Gary Locke speak tomorrow.  There is certainly a lot going on already at the COP15 even before the 100 Heads of State arrive.

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Green Build Wrap: The Commercial Service Steps Up

November 16, 2009

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Daniel Harris has been a Foreign Service Officer for over 25 years serving at posts in Europe, South America, Africa, and Washington, DC, most recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Operations, U.S. Commercial Service.  He currently serves as the chief of the Commercial Section and the senior representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce in the U.S. Mission to France.

At the end of two weeks of living and breathing “Green,” our Commercial Service travelers feel exhausted but happy.  The adrenaline high that comes from pushing into new markets and meeting many innovative companies overcomes the fatigue.  We also feel proud of our organization.  This whole experiment – the Green Build Road Show, our partnerships with the private sector and our participation in the Green Build Show in Phoenix — was driven by the “field” – that is, the Commercial Service people overseas and in the national offices.  Several of us in Europe grasped that Green Build was a growth opportunity and started developing the notion of a Road Show.  Our colleagues in the United States jumped on board and our folks in Headquarters supported us.  Then we went to the private sector to find marketing partners and their positive response confirmed we were on to something.

What’s so cool is that we brought this together in a very 21st Century style – we coalesced around the power of an idea and we pieced the rest together as we went along.  Dozens, maybe hundreds, of people collaborated across nine time zones, with no guarantees of success or promises of particular reward.  The Commercial Service DNA seems to include genes for both entrepreneurship and altruism.

We’ve learned a lot from thinkers at Carnegie Mellon, the National Renewable Energy Lab, the Green Build Council – and of course from the companies we met.  Our challenge is helping them succeed in overseas markets, and for that we can draw on years of experience.  It feels really good when you offer  ideas and see lights flashing in an entrepreneur’s eyes.  On Wednesday, I told a start up that they were selling themselves short – that we could help them take a much more ambitious approach to the European market, despite their limited resources.  After talking to a couple of my colleagues, they circled back to tell me they wanted to go for it!

Al Gore and Sheryl Crowe energized several thousand Green Build participants on Wednesday night – giving us a sense that, through supporting American innovation, we’re making our own contribution to saving the planet.

All of us sense that the Road Show is just the beginning. This sector is still ramping up – and we want to be players.  So, where do we go from here?  Already we have a couple of big events on the horizon – the Bright Green Pavilion at the COP 15 in Copenhagen and the Green Industries Trade Mission we’re doing with FedEx in April.  Beyond that, we want to expand and deepen our partnerships with top research institutions, with our private sector partners and with associations.  For the rest, we’ll move with the needs of American companies as this exciting sector continues to unfold.

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The Green Wave Reaches Phoenix, as the Greenbuild Expo Opens

November 16, 2009

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Keith Curtis is a senior Foreign Service Officer currently based in the U.S. Commercial Service’s Office of International Operations.  He is the Commercial Service’s senior advisor on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Reaching the Green Goal, the Commercial Service’s Greenbuild Road Show has arrived at its final destination:  the Greenbuild Conference and Expo, the country’s largest sustainable building event based in Phoenix this year.  This wildly popular event is hosting 1,800 exhibitors and expected to attract upwards of 25,000 of visitors over the next three days.  At its pre-show program, delegations from 90 countries came to International Day, creating the “buzz heard ‘round the world” about Green Buildings.  CS Abu Dhabi Senior Commercial Officer Laurie Farris brought a delegation of 95 buyers and planners ready to build green in the Middle East, which was the largest group among the dozens of countries present.

As part of the educational program designed for the hundreds of international buyers, Paris SCO Dan Harris moderated a panel on retrofitting buildings to lower their carbon footprint and enhance their green credentials.  Here we are now down to the core of the core of the immediate problem.  From the speakers on this panel we learned an incredible amount:  40 per cent of Green House Gas (GHG) comes from buildings; 70% of our electricity is used in buildings; and, the low hanging fruit of GHG mitigation can come from increasing efficiency in buildings –the kicker is that these reductions come at cost savings, so whether you believe in climate change or not, it makes sense.  Dan’s panel pointed out the next step; this problem is not going to be solved by new buildings because the turnover takes too long.  Most of our buildings are “old” and will remain that way for a while.  But we can put new “skins“ on buildings, and we can “green” existing buildings, like the Clinton Climate Initiative is doing with the Empire State Building.  And, the most important thing we learned – the final point beyond the point – is that in the end it comes around to the people in the buildings, because green buildings have to be used right or they are no good.  Green buildings are performing way below expectations, it turns out, because of improper use.  So monitoring becomes key, as are systems that tell you how the building is performing in actual use, and what you need to correct.  Now, here at the Greenbuild Expo, it seems we are arriving at the set of solutions needed to really address climate change.

And the buzz is building and building.  We started the day at the office of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Scottsdale which has a growing set of export-ready clients – our European SCOs reached out to these Phoenix-area companies from a wide range industries who are interested in the European markets;  some of these folks later joined us at the Greenbuild show to check out the excitement.  As the International Day seminars came to a close and the Show officially opened in the evening, gleaming with beautiful carpets and a feast of food and drink, we started meeting a host of U.S. firms who hold the solutions to mitigating climate change and enhancing energy efficiency.  These are the companies we want to help introduce to international markets.  Now we look forward to a whirlwind of buzz as we head toward the penultimate events of the tour.

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