Posts Tagged ‘Trade’

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March Madness and ITA’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program

March 25, 2013

Steve Williams is the Operations Team Lead with the International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center 

So far in this year’s NCAA Tournament, we’ve International Trade Administration emblemseen several underdogs knock out the proverbial Goliath. As a small business owner, you might feel at times like an underdog. Just like Wichita State, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast, who have to compete against schools with bigger budgets and more highly touted recruits, small businesses can feel at a disadvantage when they compete overseas against companies who have a home-court advantage. It might seem intimidating, but just like these teams in the Sweet 16, you can come out on top with the right strategy.

If your company’s export goals are ever impeded by a foreign government-imposed trade barrier, you can call on the International Trade Administration’s Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC) Program to come into the game.  The TAC Program works to help remove the trade barriers you face. Since the inception of the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, the Program has initiated 735 market access and compliance cases in 104 countries, successfully removing 293 specific non-tariff barriers (in 80 countries) affecting a broad range of industries.

As a recent example, the International Trade Administration (ITA) helped Johnson Outdoors, a sporting goods manufacturer based in Wisconsin, regain ownership of its trademark in Russia. A Johnson Outdoors competitor registered the Johnson Outdoors’ trademark with Russia’s patent office and then attempted to sue Johnson Outdoors for alleged violation of the trademark. ITA spoke with Russian officials about proper protection of IPR. This resulted in the Russian company dropping its suit against Johnson Outdoors and relinquishing its trademark, allowing Johnson Outdoors to maintain $100 million in annual revenue.

Our program works by assembling a small team of experts from our 400 specialists, experts both in the country and the trade agreement relevant to your specific issue.  We can assist in helping to remove or reduce discriminatory or unnecessary trade restrictive barriers related to customs, rules of origin, government procurement, investment, services or standards testing, licensing, certification requirements, or even issues related to intellectual property rights. Best of all, our services are completely free of charge!

The next time you need some help with a foreign government trade barrier, contact us and we’ll be in your court.

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ITA: Helping Businesses of Any Sector Create Exports

March 5, 2013

Chris Higginbotham is a Communication Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

Deana Shick is an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration.

Deana Shick

Health care businesses in the Pittsburgh area go to Deana Shick if they have questions about exporting their products.

So do plastics companies. So do apparel companies. And so do chemical companies.

“We will help any American business in any sector – whether it’s veterinary equipment or ballistic glass or water sanitation,” Shick says.

The “we” she refers to is the International Trade Administration, or ITA. Shick is an international trade specialist in ITA’s Pittsburgh office, where she helps primarily small- and medium-sized businesses in the area learn how to compete on the global market. ITA supports the Obama administration’s mission to grow U.S. exports under the National Export Initiative.

“A lot of what we do is demystify exporting,” Shick says. “We hear a lot of businesses ask, ‘How can my small business compete globally?’ We help them do it.”

This help doesn’t just exist in Pittsburgh. ITA has more than 100 offices in the U.S. and in 70 countries around the world. Businesses can contact these offices to get help from experts in fields varying from aeronautics to agriculture, electronics to textiles.

Matt Hein is an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration

Matthew Hein

ITA’s help doesn’t just exist in these offices either. Shick teamed up with Matthew Hein, an international trade specialist at ITA’s headquarters in Washington, DC, to host a webinar for the Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Industry Group back in January (view a replay of the webinar ). The MEMS Industry Group (MIG) represents companies in the MEMS field and provides access and connections for member organizations to traditional and emerging markets.

“We used the webinar to inform these businesses about our capabilities,” Hein said. “We help businesses learn how to compete globally; we help them conduct research and develop strategy; we help them gain access to foreign markets. There are countless ways in which we can help and we love to do it.”

“The International Trade Administration’s webinar provided invaluable information on their products and services to MEMS Industry Group’s members,” said Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group.

“The small to medium-sized enterprises among our 140-plus member companies that have limited exporting experience will gain access to a ready and willing partner that can help them succeed at exporting,” Lightman continued.

No matter how small your business or obscure your product is, ITA is uniquely suited to help you create or increase exports. Whether it’s helping you make contacts in foreign markets, conducting research about potential buyers or helping you understand foreign shipping, ITA’s specialists are ready to assist.

“My favorite part of this job is seeing small- to medium-sized businesses make their first sale overseas and they’re able to add a couple of jobs down the line,” Shick says.

It’s a part of the job everyone at ITA enjoys. So how can we help your business or industry increase exports and create jobs? Contact one of our trade specialists in your area to find out how ITA can help your business succeed.

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U.S. Exporters Set to Reap Benefits of Russia’s Accession to the World Trade Organization

February 7, 2013

Matthew Edwards is Director, and Christine Lucyk is Senior Policy Advisor, in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

As 2012 drew to a close, Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank joined President Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, members of Congress, and representatives of the business community at the White House to mark a historic event in U.S.-Russia economic relations – the signing of legislation authorizing the President to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia. Calling the legislation a “win-win for American businesses and workers,” Blank hailed the legislation as a crucial step to ensure that U.S. businesses can compete on a level playing field and enjoy in full measure the increased access to Russia’s growing market which Russia extended through its agreement to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

These are benefits that the U.S. Government, in consultation with Congress and American manufacturers, farmers and service-providers as well as fellow with WTO members, worked hard to achieve, through intensive negotiations, and with bipartisan support by successive U.S. administrations, culminating in Russia’s accession to the WTO in August 2012.

What does this mean for the future? For context, as one of the world’s larger emerging markets, Russia has been playing a growing role in U.S. trade and investment, in particular as a market for U.S. goods. In 2012, American exports to Russia rose approximately 25 percent over 2011’s level, growing more than five times as fast as U.S. exports to the world as a whole. More exports means support for more American jobs.

U.S. exporters stand to benefit further from greater and more predictable market access, as tariffs fall in line with Russia’s commitments to reduce and bind tariffs on many industrial products. In the past, Russia was able to increase tariffs without limit. As a result of its WTO commitments, Russia’s tariffs will be bound at an average rate of about seven percent. U.S. exports in key sectors like information technology, civil aircraft, chemicals, agricultural products and many types of capital goods and equipment will see significant tariff benefits.

In the past, U.S. service providers were excluded from many sectors or faced barriers in those sectors where they were allowed to operate. Russia’s market access and national treatment commitments provide new opportunities in telecommunications, computer services, express delivery, distribution, financial services and audio-visual services.

Russia’s commitments on non-tariff measures, including obligations to abide by WTO rules on technical barriers to trade, subsidies, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, will limit Russia’s ability to take certain kinds of arbitrary actions, such as SPS and other measures that have restricted U.S. exports of meat and poultry, spirits, and dairy products.

Russia’s trade environment also should continue to benefit over time from commitments in the area of transparency. U.S. exporters have in the past come up against laws and regulations adopted without adequate opportunity for input from interested parties or without reliable information about regulations on trade in a given product or industry. Under the WTO, Russia is obligated to apply WTO rules on transparency, including formal establishment of notice and comment procedures for proposed measures affecting trade in goods, services and intellectual property and requirements to provide decisions in writing and new rights of appeal.

As the volume and breadth of U.S.-Russia trade grows, establishing PNTR has provided the U.S. with more tools and the leverage to hold Russia accountable for the obligations it has undertaken, and to defend U.S. economic interests in Russia’s market. In the coming months, the International Trade Administration plans to step up our outreach to advise U.S. industry of new opportunities in Russia’s market – as well as its remaining challenges. These challenges still can be considerable, as indicated in the World Bank’s most recent “Doing Business” rankings, where despite jumping eight places in the rankings, Russia placed 112th out of 185 economies surveyed.

The Commerce Department will be working under the U.S.-Russia Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group (part of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission) to continue to bring U.S. business interests to the fore in discussions with our Russian counterparts on ways to further expand this growing trade relationship in ways that benefit U.S. industry and U.S. workers.

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