Posts Tagged ‘CS’

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A Day in the Life of a First-Tour CS Officer

July 2, 2009

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Ricardo Pelaez is a first-tour Commercial Officer serving with the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service in Taipei.  He and his team of three Commercial Specialists covers a broad spectrum of industry sectors including consumer goods, education, architecture/construction/engineering, environmental technologies, and power generation. Before joining CS Taipei in August 2008, Ricardo served as a Senior International Trade Specialist in the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s Cleveland, OH and Akron, OH U.S. Export Assistance Centers for over 10 years.

Greetings from Taipei!

Today was a really busy day for me here, but I’m excited and satisfied with the day’s results. Following a typical morning of meeting with each member of my team and checking emails, I attended a fellow officer’s going away lunch.   After lunch I was headed for a public diplomacy speaking engagement at YuDa High School. This school has been selected to act as the host sponsor of the U.S. Deaflympic Team. Taipei will host the 2009 Deaflympics, an official event of the International Olympic Committee, this September. This school of 5,500 Taiwan students will cheer on over 300 athletes and coaches representing the United States and over 5,000 athletes and coaches representing 81 countries.  As part of the school’s preparations, they invited me to come and speak to them about “U.S. Culture and Values.”

Commercial Service Taipei Team Meeting

Commercial Service Taipei Team Meeting. Department of Commerce photo

The most exciting part of the day was the final event on my schedule. After several months of planning, long hours, and hard work, CS Taipei finally kicked off the first of three “America Month” retail events promoting several hundred U.S. brands to Taiwan consumers.  In recent years, CS Taipei has organized several America Month events with local retail partners, but this year we were looking to hit a homerun.  CS Taipei partnered with three of Taiwan’s largest retailers, including Miramar Entertainment Park and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store in Taipei, and Dream Mall down in Kaohsiung.

We, and the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) Agricultural Trade Office, have been collaborating with our retail partners to invite every single U.S. brand and franchise in their retail outlets to participate in this fantastic opportunity. We also helped each of our partners recruit special vendors, identify and invite entertainment performers, create a media exposure plan, and do whatever else we can do within our capacity to ensure the success of the America Month.

June 24 was the official opening of the America Month event at Miramar, a shopping mall that also boasts a Ferris wheel, a movie theater and an IMAX. Miramar’s theme is “American Beauty and Strength,” reflecting the American lifestyle, its free spirit, and multifaceted culture.

During the America Month, over 100 American brands at Miramar, including apparel, cosmetics, food and wine, and restaurants, are offering special activities and discounts to create a joyful and entertaining shopping experience.  Miramar’s two-week long event will culminate on the Fourth of July. They have planned several activities to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the U.S. Independence Day, including, a cheerleading performance, Hawaiian hula dance performance, and a grand finale 233-second fireworks display.

Mitsukoshi and Dream Mall have also launched their America Month campaigns as well.  Mitsukoshi, for instance, is featuring a theme on U.S. Route 66.  We have been helping them define the elements necessary to illustrate the Route 66 spirit.  It is really exciting to see our months of work finally coming to fruition.

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Paris Air Show

June 19, 2009

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Daniel Harris is Senior Commercial Officer, U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy, Paris.

If you enjoy the thrill of a heart-stopping experience, you should have been with me at the Paris Air Show this past week.  The jet fighter screamed past the spectators, then stood on its tail and then shot straight up, engines roaring as if it were a rocket rather than an airplane.  After gaining altitude, the fighter rolled over on its back in a long arc until the plane pointed straight down, accelerating rapidly towards the earth.  As my heart rate started rising, the pilot pulled the fighter onto a smooth, level course in front of the crowd, which included six United States Senators and a host of other dignitaries from around the world.

Welcome to the Paris Air Show!

A highlight for me was the opening of the U.S. Pavilion, where I had the honor to introduce several distinguished Americans, especially Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the President’s Representative to the Paris Air Show, holder of the Congressional Medal of Honor and a much respected figure in and out of the U.S. Senate.  Other speakers included the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Michael Donley and the U.S. Chargé d’Affairs, Mark Pekala.

Commercial Service Paris also escorted the members of the U.S. Congressional delegation from the Senate Appropriations Committee to their meetings at show. The delegation was led by its Chairman, Senator Inouye, accompanied by Senator Thad Cochran (Mississippi), Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa), Senator Richard Shelby (Alabama), Senator Byron Dorgan (North Dakota) and Senator Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma). The final highlight of the day was the opening night gala Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) reception for 1100 American exhibitors and guests at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador.

The Paris Air Show, Europe’s largest aerospace exhibition, takes place every two years at the Le Bourget exposition site and airport. Over 300 U.S. exhibitors, including 162 companies and American states exhibited inside the U.S. Pavilion (organized by Kallman Worldwide) – the largest national delegation at the show.  The Commerce Department’s acting Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services, Mary Saunders, was also on site to meet with her counterparts from governments around the world who send representatives to this huge biennial event.

The activity was non-stop as business deals were discussed in the corporate “chalets” that line the flight line at the airfield, while enjoying great views of the flight demos. The CS team at the U.S. Commercial Service Paris (CS Paris) office within the U.S. Embassy Paris, together with the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), jointly support the commercial and military aspects of the show, with assistance from several other U.S. government agencies, including the FAA and NASA.

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Waste Expo Highlight the Latest Waste Management and Recyling Technologies

June 18, 2009

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Vidya Kori has been with the International Trade Administration for 5 years.  She currently serves as a Project Officer in the United States and Foreign Commercial Service’s International Buyer Program.

I am writing from the bustling International Business Center located at Waste Expo 2009, North America’s largest trade show serving the solid waste and recycling industries.  Here in Las Vegas Nevada, over 500 exhibitors are showcasing the latest equipment and technologies the industry has to offer.  There are also 40 conference sessions and training workshops led by industry experts on current topics such as Green Management and Technology, Recycling, Energy, and Landfill Operations.  The International Trade Administration’s (ITA) own Marc Lemmond (a trade specialist from ITA’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries, a part of the Manufacturing and Services unit) was one of the speakers at a seminar titled E-Waste:  New Laws, New Programs.  Although this seminar took place on the pre-exhibition day, well over 100 people were in attendance at this seminar, even with 3 other concurrent sessions going on!  Marc enlightened the audience on the international drivers for electronics recycling.  The seminar focused on the fact that discarded electronics should be considered a recyclable commodity, not waste – for this reason, the recycling community prefers the term “e-scrap” to e-waste.  The falling cost of electronics, transition to digital TV, and new technologies such as LED are making discarded electronics the fastest growing segment of the municipal waste stream.  U.S. and international regulations are reinforcing market opportunities for shredding, sorting, and treatment technologies for electronics recycling.  The session was very popular and well-received!

As a participant in the International Buyer Program (IBP), Waste Expo was promoted by United States and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) around the world resulting in USFCS Specialists recruiting and leading buyer delegations here to meet U.S. exhibitors from Vietnam, Romania, Japan, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.  It’s been great to see so many international buyer delegates meeting with U.S. companies here in the International Business Center!  The show also features a U.S. Export Pavilion with representatives from within the Department of Commerce (Census and Commercial Service) and Export Import Bank.  “I’ve been to several trade shows over the past few years and there seems to be a higher percentage of U.S. manufactured goods and services in this industry than in the other shows,” stated Kelly Kemp from Export Import Bank.

It is only the first day of the 2.5 half day exhibition and so many important introductions and meetings have taken place.  I’m excited to see what the next two days have to offer and commend all the Commerce and government representatives at the show for all their hard work on making this show a great success!  For other shows participating in the IBP, you should check out www.export.gov/IBP.

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Pow Wow Kicks Off in Miami

June 2, 2009

Helen Marano is the Director of the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries which serves as the National Tourism Office for the United States.  She has worked in the travel and tourism industry for 18 years.

I am writing you from Pow Wow in sunny Miami. Pow Wow is the travel and tourism industry’s premier international sales and marketing event. It’s great to be here with a strong federal presence from the Departments of State and Homeland Security, as well as our Travel & Tourism Team from the U.S. Commercial Service. Part of our mission at Pow Wow is to educate international travel leaders about new entry and exit programs and provide the latest information about U.S. travel destinations programs, and inbound visitation statistics.

International Trade Administration Travel and Tourism Team

International Trade Administration Travel and Tourism Team. Department of Commerce photo.

It’s exciting to see over 4,000 attendees here from all over the world. They’re folks from State Tourism offices, cities, attractions, hotels, travel journalists and foreign buyers of U.S. travel and tourism products and services. It is great to see commerce at work with more than 50,000 appointments between buyers and sellers taking place this week. These negotiations typically generate over $3 billion in future travel to the United States.

Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke at Pow Wow’s closing luncheon.  He said, “I am especially pleased to note that travel and tourism is responsible for over one-fourth of all services exports for the United States. And for the 20th consecutive year, travel and tourism produced a travel trade surplus for the U.S. – a record $29.7 billion.” He went on to say, “What is impossible to count are the friendships that were formed, the perspectives that were broadened, or the discoveries that were made about a new culture and country as a result of traveling to the United States.”

Events like Pow Wow are an excellent opportunity for individual destinations like Miami to showcase their attractions and venues to international buyers. Pow Wow shows how resilient the travel and tourism industry is and what an engine it is for economic growth. Events such as Pow Wow help generate more visitors to the U.S., more dollars spent, and more jobs created.

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How Commercial Service Helps Exporters

May 6, 2009

Patrick McRae is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service. He is currently assigned to the Grand Rapids,Michigan Export Assistance Center.

My colleagues and I assist Michigan-based firms access and develop foreign markets. Truth be told though, many small or medium-sized firms were quite reluctant to consider international sales, especially when things were going so well domestically…

Economic downturn, however, has greatly enhanced our business community’s interest in international markets. In fact, I just had a conversation with a potential new-to-export firm that went something like this:

Me: “So, you have a good product here…you really should think about selling overseas.”

Potential Exporter: “Sell internationally? Don’t you have to be a major player to go international? I really need to increase sales! How do we go about it?”

At which point I assured him that almost any product is exportable, regardless of the size of the firm, and the Commercial Service can help make it happen!

Another counseling session successfully underway….

I went on to explain that the export process usually begins with an assessment of a firm’s “export readiness” where an international trade specialist sits down with the client to review the firm’s readiness to explore and implement export related activities.

Next comes the market research phase, where we identify “best prospect” markets. Commercial Service trade specialists carry out basic research, using an extensive array of trade data bases compiled and maintained by the ITA. These services are typically offered free of charge. Once basic research indicates potential export markets, our clients may choose to pursue specialized market research in order to gain more detailed market insight such as competitive presence, pricing, nature of relevant supply chains, etc. These services are typically provided for a small fee.

With this enhanced understanding of the target market, a client may wish to meet with key in-country contacts such as potential distributors, sales agents, strategic allies or joint venture partners. Through our Gold Key Service, we will identify, screen, select and set up meetings so that in a matter of days, clients may begin to forge the relationships that will be critical to future export success!

At this point, having gone through the pre-export research and planning process, you will design and implement a well thought-out international business plan and begin the cycle of planning-implementation-assessment-adjustment.

I wrapped up the conversation with an assurance that trade professionals throughout the ITA will be there to assist in the transition from export-novice to export-expert!

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The Greatest Shows on Earth

May 1, 2009

Doug Barry is a trade specialist with the Trade Information Center. You can talk to him and his colleagues by calling 1-800-USA-TRADE.

Trade shows are one of the best ways to generate international sales, and some of the world’s largest are found in Germany. Why there? Two reasons: Germans have been organizing shows since the Middle Ages, and Germany is a relatively easy flight for business folks from elsewhere on the continent, the Middle East, Africa and the United States.

So, Germany plays host to all kinds of industry shows including pet products, books, musical instruments, medical equipment, IT and more. Americans go there to meet buyers from everywhere—without having to spend a small fortune flying everywhere.

Filling the Order Books

I recently attended CeBIT, the world’s largest IT show held each year in Hannover. I went to make a video on what U.S. companies need to know to make sales there, beyond having a good product. What I found at CeBIT were many small U.S. companies, which were filling their order books for the next year by engaging in best practices including trolling the show website for prospects before arrival; signage tricks to attract traffic; ploys for generating industry press; and book-length strategies for finding and scoring points at parties that start at 5pm everyday with German precision.

Horns of a Dilemma

Now, with world trade in the doldrums, you might reasonably ask, “Why bother?” One answer is that trade is showing signs of life—U.S. exports were up 1.6 percent in February and are likely to return to their record pace. Second, the chance to get in front of eager buyers from countries your frequent flyer miles won’t reach is too good to ignore. Third, the International Trade Administration, through the U.S. Commercial Service, can help you before, during and after the show—generating prospects, finding low cost space, tutoring on business culture and protocol.

Last point: see for yourself. Here are five videos covering the show; what the Commercial Service can do for you; best practices for making sales; protecting your intellectual property; and mixing business with pleasure.

Been to or want to go to an international trade show? Share your best practices and ask your questions in this space.

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80 U.S. Companies Test the European Market in Poland

April 23, 2009

Rochelle J. Lipsitz is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and the Director General of the U. S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

I am writing to you live from Warsaw, Poland, here with 80 U.S. companies at our third Annual Trade Winds Forum.

Did you know this year is the U.S.’s 90th year of diplomatic relations with Poland? It’s amazing to consider how far Poland has come since the years of Woodrow Wilson. Today, Poland’s economy is one of the best performers in Europe and, despite the global economic crisis, it is still growing at about 1% per annum, while many countries are still struggling. In addition to having a stable government and about $15 billion of U.S. investment, it serves as an anchor market for U.S. companies trying to sell to Central and Eastern Europe – which is why the U.S. Commercial Service and our clients are here.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Rochelle J. Lipsitz (left) with representatives from U.S. company Taking the Waters, a spa treatment company, at the Trade Winds Forum in Warsaw, Poland.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Rochelle J. Lipsitz (left) with representatives from U.S. company Taking the Waters, a spa treatment company, at the Trade Winds Forum in Warsaw, Poland. (U.S. Department of Commerce Photo)

Eighty U.S. companies have joined us to participate in more than 800 individual meetings with our Senior Commercial Officers from 28 U.S. Embassies across Europe who are giving them an individual assessment of sales opportunities in countries from Portugal to Kazakhstan. During the three meetings I have been able to observe so far, clients and Officers discussed market potential and how to find business partners. They compared notes on trade shows and discussed logistics. And, a lot of discussion focused on how to get paid – especially in our current credit crunch. Throughout these back-to-back, 20-minute counseling sessions – which looked a lot like speed dating – the company representatives were able to learn how their products would fare in various countries and the steps they should take to successfully enter the market. The room was just buzzing with energy! The goal is that the U.S. companies will walk away from these two days with a strategy for selling throughout Europe.

We don’t only want them to take home a strategy though, but business too. So we’ve also arranged nearly 400 meetings for the U.S. companies with Polish buyers and potential partners. Nearly 40% of the companies attending the Trade Winds Forum are repeat attendees who were at last year’s program in Istanbul, Turkey. Firms from that event reported dozens of export sales as a result of their meetings, and we look forward to the same great results this year.

When the event is done, the U.S. Commercial Service will have arranged nearly 1,200 meetings for these U.S. companies to help them increase their international sales! Why do we do this, you ask? Because increasing international sales stimulates our economy by creating higher-paying jobs at home.

I look forward to writing again about how the U.S. Commercial Service is helping U.S. companies sell overseas…. Maybe next time you’ll be here too!

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