Posts Tagged ‘USEAC’

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Green Build Road Show – Moving on to Denver

November 5, 2009

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Thomas Moore is Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy. Mr. Moore has previously served as the U.S. Commercial Service’s Deputy Director General, overseeing 2,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

After two successful days in Pittsburgh, the U.S. Commercial Service’s Green Build Road Show landed in an unseasonably sunny and warm Denver, Colorado, for another two-day program touting the unparalleled export opportunities in Europe’s green build and renewable energy sectors.

During the morning program, an audience member posed an interesting question:  Did we have any optimism that the United States would follow and match Europe’s current lead in the domestic deployment of these technologies?  As it turned out, the questioner had arrived late and missed most of the morning presentations.  Otherwise, he would have known that he was addressing a roomful of green entrepreneurs with strong confidence in an inevitable low-carbon future.

The Road Show had touched down in exactly the right place:  Denver is a hotbed of green technology development.  While the Road Show was conceived to educate U.S. companies on the European green build market, it has also been an eye-opening learning experience for the U.S. Commercial Service’s European officers and industry specialists.  We have found exactly what we were looking for:  A rich vein of new and innovative products and specialized expertise that should find an attentive market in Europe.

Pam Reichert, the State of Colorado’s Director of International Trade, opened the program with a description of Colorado’s strong commitment to what they have creatively coined the “New Energy Economy.”   “We’ve become a template for the rest of the nation for creating jobs, diversifying our energy portfolio, increasing energy security, and reducing our carbon footprint,” she said, citing the State’s success in attracting European investment in green technologies and in exporting nearly $2 billion last year to Europe.

The morning program featured presentations by two Colorado entrepreneurs who epitomize this success and should serve as encouraging role models – and mentors – for others to follow.

Dan Kigar, CEO of The Colorado Yurt Company, described his experiences in exporting 25 tent-like yurts for a major cultural exhibition in Paris.  Dan plans to conquer the world with his tent structures based upon the famous design of Genghis Khan, updated to the 21st century and pushing the envelope in use of sustainable technologies and recycled products.  He also cautioned exporters to beware of “bumps in the road” such as EU standards conformity issues, and he thanked the Commercial Service in France for helping him overcome these obstacles when they arose.

Mark Chen, Marketing Director for Abound Solar, discussed his company’s success selling thin-film solar photovoltaic modules in Germany, the world’s largest solar market with 50 percent annual growth in recent years.  Mark elicited laughs from the audience when he compared the bureaucratic paperwork required by Germany for a solar installation – two pages – versus the tabletop full of paper required by California.  But he did caution companies that they would face difficulties, albeit surmountable, in dealing with the European Union’s regulatory regimes for chemicals and electronic products.  (FYI:  The Commercial Service can help!)

The keynote speaker at lunch was David Hiller, Executive Director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, a joint venture of four premier public research universities in partnership with the private sector, and an important element in the infrastructure that has attracted foreign investment to Colorado.  David highlighted the strong public support and commitment among Coloradans for clean energy solutions.

Will this public commitment be replicated nationally, as one audience member wondered?  We had a room full of people betting their sweat and financial equity that it would!  On a personal note, it was wonderful to renew acquaintances with our top-notch U.S. Commercial Service colleagues in the Denver Export Assistance Center.  Kudos for a fantastic job organizing this event!

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Big Business at Big Iron

November 2, 2009

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Heather Ranck is Director of the Fargo, North Dakota US Export Assistance Center. She is also active on the Agribusiness Team, and in that capacity she promotes the export of US-made agricultural machinery throughout the world.

So Much to Do, So Little Time

I keep telling myself: sleep is overrated! Somewhere between the 1 a.m. airport pickup for my colleague arriving from China; and the 7:30 a.m. Ex-Im Bank finance meeting sleep tends to take a back seat to all the organizing, facilitating, entertaining and crisis management that is inherent in putting on any large event. The Big Iron Farm Machinery Show is the biggest agricultural machinery show in the Upper Midwest, and in 2007 we decided to make it a global event when the former Soviet countries began showing very high interest in our large scale farm machinery built in North Dakota. This, our third year, is once again packed with activity and opportunities for the 150+ foreign buyers who are descending on Fargo to learn about American large scale crop farming.

This year I focused my recruiting efforts on Africa, a new frontier for large scale farm equipment. Having lived in Mozambique and Congo, I wanted to scope out the prospects, so in May 2009 I took a 3-week trip to South Africa, Angola and Mozambique. After 144 meetings I learned a lot about the needs and opportunities for farm equipment in Africa. We had a delegation of 25 Africans at Big Iron this year, and I would like to see American technology helping increase food production in Africa.

The Big Iron International Visitors Program is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Commercial Service (the primary federal government export assistance agency) and the North Dakota Trade Office (a state of North Dakota trade promotion organization); and our combined team of 10 people coordinates very closely on all recruiting, events planning, logistics, interpreting, transportation and programming.

During the show, the hub of all the activity is the International Visitors Pavilion, for which the International Trade Administration’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) provided substantial funding for the meeting rooms this year. This is Grand Central Station for buyers and sellers, with meeting rooms, food and COFFEE!

We are always coming up with new elements to the program, and one of my new ideas this year was to hold an international soccer match. We had a beautiful, sunny day in Fargo and Fargo Parks let us use the best fields in Fargo. The game ended in a 4-4 tie, further ensuring international harmony.

I also have taken on the activity of ensuring adequate language assistance for buyers and sellers. I speak Portuguese, and therefore did quite a bit of interpreting for the Angolan delegation this year. We are fortunate to have 3 universities in the Fargo-Moorhead area, so we recruit student volunteers to facilitate business meetings throughout the week.

Big Iron 2009 was as exciting as ever this year with representation from 12 different countries, many of them new to Big Iron. It is thrilling to watch the years of effort leading to deals being negotiated before our eyes; and millions of dollars of US agricultural machinery being shipped all over the world.

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infoComm09, an IBP Event has its Biggest East Coast Show in History

July 27, 2009

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Graylin Presbury has been with the International Trade Administration for 30 years. He has spent the last five years in the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) as a Project Officer in the Global Trade Programs unit.

I had the privilege of being the project officer for InfoComm09, the world’s premier annual B2B conference and exposition for the professional audiovisual information communications industry.  It alternates annually between the east and west coasts of the United States.

Both the weather and the technology were hot last month in Orlando at InfoComm09. The conference, held June 14-19, had more than 300 educational workshops and seminars, and the exhibition, held June 17-19, had roughly 850 exhibitors and more than 28,000 attendees, making this the biggest east cost show in its history.

ITA Global ICT Team in cooperation with the International Buyer Program at InfoComm09

ITA Global ICT Team in cooperation with the International Buyer Program at InfoComm09 (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

The International Business Center (IBC) provided a one-stop shop for U.S. Government assistance at the show.  The IBC featured International Trade Administration (ITA) export and industry experts as well as representatives from the Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Administration.

As a project officer, I particularly appreciated having the support of ITA’s Global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Team. Through the ICT Team and the USFCS International Buyer Program, we brought in nearly 500 delegates from 27 countries, including delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Mexico, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Additional ICT Team support came from trade staff in our U.S. Export Assistance Centers in Austin, TX; New York; Clearwater, FL; and Portland, OR, which included outreach and export counseling to exhibitors from their states and regions.

The ICT Team was instrumental to our success and the quality of services we delivered.  Aside from the 20 or so U.S. exhibitors and attendees who visited the IBC, there were about 35 U.S. exhibitors that scheduled 130 appointments as part of the ICT Team’s Showtime program. In addition to the market counseling provided by USFCS overseas staff, ITA industry experts informed participants about market trends, trade policy and regulatory issues.  Representatives from the Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Administration counseled exhibitors about loan guarantee programs, business development assistance and export credit insurance.

To read more about the International Buyer Program, please visit http://www.export.gov/IBP.

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Sustainable Manufacturing Tour

July 15, 2009

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Acting U.S. Commerce Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Mary Saunders is leading a tour of four Seattle-area manufacturing facilities as part of the department’s Sustainability 360 initiative. The tour, Sustainability 360: An Aerospace Supply Chain Event, is designed to showcase the benefits of sustainable manufacturing throughout an aerospace manufacturing supply chain.

Sustainability 360

We just concluded our first Sustainability 360 event here in Seattle and the experience was outstanding – lots of good practical examples of how implementing sustainable manufacturing practices can reduce environmental impact and improve the bottom line for businesses.  Sustainability 360 is what we are calling our regional tours of manufacturing facilities operating at various points in the supply chain, in this case the aerospace supply chain.  Our sustainable manufacturing and aerospace teams in Manufacturing and Services worked with the U.S.  Export Assistance Center and Washington Manufacturing Services, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center in the area, to put together a tour of four companies who are at various stages in their sustainability journey, to share their lessons learned and best practices with other local companies.

Participants visiting the new facility of Tyee Aircraft, a producer of aerospace components.  Tyee has incorporated sustainable principles into its lean manufacturing practices with zero waste water release, energy efficient lighting, and recycling programs.

Participants visiting the new facility of Tyee Aircraft, a producer of aerospace components. Tyee has incorporated sustainable principles into its lean manufacturing practices with zero waste water release, energy efficient lighting, and recycling programs. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo.)

We toured Puget Sound Energy, Tyee Aircraft, Goodrich Aerostructures and The Boeing Company, along with 24 local company representatives.  And we learned a tremendous amount.  For instances, successful companies are those that are “purpose driven”, with management and employees working toward a common goal.  Sustainability takes into account the interest of the company itself in becoming more competitive; as well as the interests of investors, suppliers, customers and the community in which it operates.  Ideas for improving sustainability can come from anyone in the company and even from suppliers and customers.  There are no bad ideas.  Sustainable Manufacturing practices save money and help grow business.

I have toured factory floors before, but I have never seen this much energy and enthusiasm, in companies ranging in size from a little more than a 100 employees to several thousand.  Today’s program reinforced the practical value of the departments’ Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative and the value of public-private partnership in advancing the competitiveness of U. S. industry.  What a hands on- way to spread the message to U.S. manufactures nationwide that sustainable manufacturing practices can deliver triple-win solutions that benefit U. S. firms, the communities in which they operate and the environment.

Mary Saunders giving her opening remarks for the Sustainability 360 event at utility Puget Sound Energy. PSE's 2008 energy efficiency work will result in annual savings for its customers of $30 million a year.

Mary Saunders giving her opening remarks for the Sustainability 360 event at utility Puget Sound Energy. PSE’s 2008 energy efficiency work will result in annual savings for its customers of $30 million a year. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo.)

Sustainable manufacturing is an area where the U.S. maintains a global competitive advantage.  Not only are we the largest producer of clean technologies globally, we are also a leader in creating cutting edge, lean and clean manufacturing practices throughout industry  supply chains.  I am looking forward to our continued work in helping to spread the sustainable manufacturing message nationwide.  For information on this initiative and its three components, take a look at http://www.manufacturing.gov/sustainability.  Let us know what you think.

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Honoring a Man and his Legacy as a Presidential Management Fellow

July 8, 2009

David Kincaid is a first year Timothy J. Hauser Presidential Management Fellow who obtained his Masters degree from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.  In addition to his coursework in international affairs and economics, David has experience in business and non-profit program management.  During the first year of his PMF program, David has had the opportunity to work with Invest in America, the Corporate Partners Program, Advocacy Center, the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries, and is currently working with the Foreign-Trade Zones Board located in Import Administration.

 Living up to expectations

Last August, when I joined ITA, I arrived on the scene bearing, in addition to the title Presidential Management Fellow or PMF, the name of a man I had never known—Timothy J. Hauser.  Many told his story, each expression unique, yet the message was the same—Tim had been a pillar of the ITA family and had left an indelible mark on the soul of this organization.  But for me, one piece of his story resonated with clarity.  As someone close to Hauser said, “Tim advocated that all ITA personnel should seek a variety of experiences in the organization.  Only in this way can they see how it all works together and get beyond the weeds.”  I took Timothy Hauser’s inspiration to heart and embarked on my journey as a PMF.

During my Masters program I learned a great deal about the work of ITA, I learned about trade law, antidumping and countervailing duties, I learned there are four business units within ITA and that Census and BEA are not part of ITA but rather are part of Commerce, I even learned that certain offices conduct trade policy analysis and others support the efforts of the U.S. Trade Representative.  But who knew there are USEACs and political appointees and taskers and that hundreds of people work to foster exports of everything from chemicals to cars and from tourism to pension funds?  There was no course on TMs and IBPs, FSNs and SCOs, or how OSP works on PIPs for MAS, CS, MAC, ODUS, OCFO, and IA through WBTs developed by folks in OCIO!  It’s true; the alphabet soup was at best daunting to learn.  But, beyond the intellectualist brain-tickling, far more valuable lessons have come of my PMF journey.

Working through others to achieve a common goal

On the first day of my new position, a respected voice said to me, “the greatest skill you can learn here at Commerce is working through others to achieve a common goal.”  And oi!, how true it is—even beyond the walls of this building—because this is, in fact, what we do here. The International Trade Administration is made up of thousands of people who work tirelessly through others to achieve a goal on behalf of the American people.  They work to ensure opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses overseas, they work to create jobs for Americans, they work to level the playing field in the global marketplace for U.S. companies, they work to foster innovative and cutting-edge strategies for American competitiveness, they work to serve the American people.  Whether it be promoting foreign direct investments that create job opportunities for American workers, or engaging corporate partners who may facilitate U.S. exports, or advocating on behalf of American companies for foreign contracts, or opening foreign markets for civil nuclear reactor builders, utilities and wastewater technology industries, or programs that reduce duties on value added imports so American manufacturers can remain competitive and keep jobs at home.  I have worked in all these areas and have met people working through others to serve the American people.

And so it is that I am now armed with many rewarding experiences, a renewed understanding of people and the inspiration of Timothy Hauser.  Having now gained a 30,000 foot view of the organization and having built an abundance of rewarding relationships, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate as a PMF and honored to be of service as part of the ITA family.

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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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