h1

Mentoring International Success: A Mid-Size Midwestern Municipality’s Mission

February 27, 2019

Kevin D. Malecek is the Director of Economic Development and International Trade for the City of Mentor, Ohio

This post is part of SelectUSA’s EDO Spotlight series, highlighting the work of EDOs around the country recruiting foreign direct investment, how that work supports jobs and economic growth across the United States, and how SelectUSA partners with EDOs to support economic development.

Mentor, Ohio Means Business logoRecognizing the unique approach of a smaller municipality to engage in global trade and investment conversation, the City of Mentor has successfully conducted several trade-oriented seminars to inform area companies on the benefits of overseas business opportunities, pursued potential partners interested in FDI through annual trade missions to Germany and the United Kingdom, and marketed incentive programs essential to the success of those that would examine opportunities in Mentor. City officials regularly converse with companies, organizations, chambers of commerce, and overseas governments to explore mutually beneficial partnerships.

In particular, the conversations and visits to the United Kingdom resulted in the negotiation and signing of a partnership memorandum with Medilink Midlands, a trade organization supporting more than 300 life sciences companies in the Midlands region of the UK. The Midlands region shares many similarities with Northeast Ohio: the development of a strong life sciences cluster among them, with companies in Mentor like STERIS and SourceOne and medical facilities nearby like the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and LakeHealth.

The growing “special relationship” between Mentor and Medilink Midlands brought an inbound delegation of Medilink members and their Chairman, Keith Widdowson, to Mentor in October where potential FDI projects were considered. The City of Mentor arranged presentations by the Cleveland Clinic, STERIS, and other essential regional partners to tout the benefits of doing business in Mentor.  As a component of the ongoing relationship, a delegation from Mentor will return to the UK to Medilink’s Med-Tech Expo in May to advance discussions and negotiations. City officials continue to converse with local partners to find linkages with Medilink’s members and encourage local businesses to accompany the City on its trade mission so those companies can find new markets in the UK.

In Mentor’s case, it shows that the population size does not matter – with the right approach, personnel, resources, and initiative, a mid-sized municipality in the Midwest with a mighty economic engine can pursue FDI opportunities anywhere.

h1

International Trade Administration: Helping to Win the Fight Against Trade Barriers

February 14, 2019

Steven Presing is the Executive Director for Trade Agreements, Policy and Negotiations at the International Trade Administration (ITA)

Here at the ITA, one of our strategic objectives is to enforce the nation’s trade laws and ensure compliance with our trade agreements. This allows U.S. businesses to compete both domestically and internationally on a level playing field. ITA established its 2018 agency priority goal to reduce, remove, or prevent trade barriers.  Accordingly, two of Commerce’s strategic goals set for 2018 were focused on addressing foreign trade barriers.  I am happy to report that the ITA not only met but exceeded these goals in 2018! This is a huge success for ITA and thousands of American businesses.   ITA logo

In close coordination with U.S. manufacturers and exporters, ITA identified and initiated approximately 18 percent more compliance cases and successfully closed roughly 20 percent more cases than in the previous year.  Between the 39 agreements compliance successes and 99 market access problems resolved, ITA has ensured more than $6 billion in U.S. exports were granted continued access to overseas markets. This work is not only helping U.S. businesses to continue to export billions of dollars in goods and services worldwide, but also providing support for the U.S. economy and helping advance American job growth.

Check out some of our 2018 success stories below to see how ITA is helping to win the fight against trade barriers.

ITA agreements compliance efforts mean changes to Brazil’s medical device regulations
In 2009, the Advanced Medical Technology Association reported to ITA that Brazil required Brazilian regulator inspection of all medical device manufacturing plants before companies could register devices for sale in Brazil. This meant inspections and registrations were backlogged, sometimes for years, resulting in costly delays for U.S. medical device exports valued at $1 billion annually.  This cumbersome registration process raised concerns regarding compliance with WTO Technical Barriers to Trade obligations, which stipulate that technical regulations not be more trade-restrictive than necessary.  For more than six years, the U.S. government engaged Brazil through targeted meetings with both trade officials at the World Trade Organization and regulators in the International Medical Device Regulator Forum (IMDRF) with the goal of streamlining the registration process.  As a result, Brazil recognized the IMDRF Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) and now accepts certifications from U.S. certification bodies as an alternative means to register devices.  U.S. medical device manufacturers are no longer subject to delays, and U.S. government agencies continue to work with Brazil to identify potential improvements to the MDSAP, which will further increase U.S. export opportunities.

ITA leverages the U.S.-Colombia FTA to expedite flow of U.S.-built SUVs into Colombia

For several years, BMW North America was not receiving proper duty reimbursement for its U.S.-made vehicles imported into Colombia.  Under the Colombia FTA, firms who elect to pay duties up front to keep their exports moving are entitled to a refund once their U.S. origin (i.e. duty-free status) is established and found to be eligible for duty-free treatment. The refunds were taking years and Colombia did not provide BMW NA with a timeline for reimbursement.  Following outreach with Colombia’s Trade Attaché and pressing the Colombian Government about the significant delays in the reimbursements, noting its FTA obligations, the company received more than $3 million in refunds. Colombia also was put on notice that the United States expects all U.S. exports to receive the full benefits of our bilateral agreement.

ITA ensures fairness for Cisco Systems in a Bahrain telecommunications equipment procurement

Cisco Systems contacted ITA’s officers in the Middle East with concerns about a potentially unfair government tender process in Bahrain. The Ministry of Transportation appeared to be changing procurement technical requirements to push the prime contractor for the modernization of Bahrain’s international airport to select wireless telecommunications systems provided by a Chinese company rather than use Cisco’s solutions. The U.S.– Bahrain FTA’s Government Procurement chapter requires that governments do not use such technical specifications in a manner that would create unnecessary obstacles to trade. As the deadline to finalize the purchase of a wireless telecommunications system loomed, ITA (operating regionally in the Middle East) teamed up with the State Department (operating in Bahrain) to jointly press the Ministry of Transportation, including engaging the U.S. Ambassador and using ITA’s analysis, that Cisco be treated fairly and that Bahrain uphold its obligations under the FTA. After sustained ITA advocacy, Cisco finalized a contract with Bahrain this past June to provide its wireless telecommunications equipment as per the original contract award, preserving Cisco’s $1.8 million sales opportunity. Trade compliance means solving trade problems now and locking in fairness for the future. ITA makes U.S. trade agreements work for U.S. industry.

ITA holds a unique position as the U.S. Government‘s full-service trade agency with both the expertise and personnel to open markets and remove foreign trade barriers for U.S. industry and its workers.  This is made possible through our global presence. We have personnel throughout the United States and around the world dedicated to solving business problems; with focused daily commercial engagement with foreign governments, the negotiation of new trade agreements and the monitoring of compliance with existing agreements. This coupled with a deep industry sector and data knowledge allows us to ensure our trading partners fulfill their commitments under our trade agreements.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance specializes in working with U.S. businesses to remove unfair foreign government-imposed trade barriers.  If your business is facing such a barrier, please report it, and our team of experts will investigate.

h1

U.S. Commercial Service: Connecting Exporters with Resources Necessary for Global Success

February 13, 2019

Susan Crawford is part of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Integrated Strategic Communications Team focused on showcasing America’s Export Experts and bringing to light useful and publicly available export insights.

When doing business globally, it’s all about who you know:

  • Who can help determine the most promising markets for your product or service?
  • Who can introduce you to potential foreign buyers or distributors?
  • Who can answer a myriad of export-related questions ranging from financing options to shipping documentation?

If you were one of the more than 330 U.S. exporters from 36 states who attended the U.S. Commercial Service’s Discover Global Markets: Indo-Pacific business forum in Salt Lake City, Utah, you likely walked away with valuable connections to help you expand your exports into Indo-Pacific markets.

The U.S. Commercial Service, the export promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, recently hosted its 18th Discover Global Markets business forum to provide U.S. firms with access to the expert resources needed to identify and capitalize on growth opportunities in aerospace, defense and security sectors in the Indo-Pacific region.

Gil Kaplan

Under Secretary Gil Kaplan speaks to participants at the Discover Global Markets Forum

Indo-Pacific Market Opportunities

“There is great potential for U.S. companies to expand their presence in the Indo-Pacific and find ways to contribute their expertise, technical know-how and innovative technologies to help this region achieve its ambitious economic development goals,” Under Secretary of Commerce Gilbert Kaplan said in keynote remarks at the Discover Global Markets forum.

Markets in the Indo-Pacific region can present many exciting, new opportunities for U.S. firms. In 2017, the Indo-Pacific represented 33 percent of world GDP and the U.S. conducted more than $1.8 trillion in two-way trade with the region. The U.S. has an unmatched network in the region, as five of the United States’ seven treaty alliances are located there: Australia, Japan, Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, making it a potentially lucrative market for U.S. goods and services.

“Our U.S. commercial diplomats and U.S. Commercial Service international trade specialists are here to provide market intelligence on opportunities for your company; by introducing you to potential business partners and helping you develop strategies to conquer your next export market,” Kaplan said.

Making Valuable Global Connections

In fact, U.S. commercial diplomats based in 14 Indo-Pacific countries, including Australia, Burma, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the event.  The diplomats, together with our U.S.-based international trade specialists, shared their local business advice and industry expertise in one-on-one counseling sessions with American companies.

Meetings

Commercial Service International Trade Specialist meet with U.S. companies

Ron Gividen, of Selex Galileo, Inc., participated in the event and said, “It was timely to meet and receive ‘in-country’ connected key influencer help across all of Indo-Asia in a single location, and in literally just 2 ½ days of in-person, direct interviews.  The knowledge of each key person representing their respective country helped to make our time so much more valuable.  All combined to help create definite connected ‘next steps’ for increasing future opportunities.”

U.S. exporters also had the chance to meet with 22 foreign buyers from 7 countries who attended the conference to source American-made products and services including aircraft components, airport terminal equipment, advanced materials, border security equipment and cybersecurity solutions.

Additionally, the U.S. Commercial Service connected representatives from Boeing, GE Additive and Textron Systems with U.S. SMEs at the event who could support the OEMs’ global supply chains and major projects in the Indo-Pacific region.

During the 2 ½ day conference, attendees heard from more than 30 speakers including executives from The Boeing Company, FedEx Express, GE Additive, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Moog Inc. Aircraft Group, and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. There were also numerous opportunities for attendees to network with speakers, our commercial diplomats and international trade specialists, and fellow exporters.

Recognizing Successful U.S. Exporters

At a forum designed to provide companies with tools to expand exports, recognizing firms that are committed to exporting and have succeeded in growing their exports was a fitting addition. U.S. Commercial Service National Director of U.S. Operations Thomas McGinty presented an Export Achievement Certificate to the following two firms for significant and sustained export sales:

  • Palo Alto, California-based Space Systems Loral, a Maxar Technologies company, and provider of satellites and spacecraft systems; and
  • Boise, Idaho-based Black Sage Technologies, a counter-unmanned aircraft systems integrator.

McGinty also recognized the World Trade Center Utah for encouraging and supporting local exporters.

Next Steps

If you are interested in exploring opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region, I encourage you to consider joining us for Trade Winds 2019 which will take place on May 6-13, 2019 in New Delhi, India, with additional stops in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Trade Winds is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s largest trade mission of the year. Visit the Trade Winds website for more information.

For additional information about the Indo-Pacific and other markets, check out our series of Country Commercial Guides.

 

h1

The International Trade Administration is Open and Ready to Assist American Businesses

January 28, 2019

Please stay tuned for regular scheduled content. In the meantime, click here to learn about our programs. ITA is proud to connect U.S. companies to opportunities abroad. If you are interested in how ITA can help you access overseas markets, contact your local International Trade Specialist.

h1

NOTICE: Due to a lapse in appropriations…

December 26, 2018

NOTICE: Due to a lapse in appropriations, this account will not be updated until a new appropriations act is enacted. Learn more: https://www.commerce.gov/news/blog/2018/12/shutdown-due-lapse-congressional-appropriations

h1

ITA’s Enforcement and Compliance Unit

December 21, 2018

Candice Appiakorang, Public Affairs Specialist in our Office of Public Affairs sat down with ITA’s Enforcement and Compliance Communications Director, Brooke Kennedy, to get an in-depth look into the importance of enforcing trade laws and ensuring compliance with trade agreements. Keep reading to find out how this office promotes the creation and maintenance of U.S. jobs and economic growth.

Brooke, thanks for joining me for this important discussion on the Enforcement and Compliance business unit within the International Trade Administration (ITA). Here at ITA we are focused not only on the international competitiveness of U.S. industry, promoting trade and investment, but also ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. Your office leads this effort. Tell me about the Enforcement and Compliance (E&C) unit and your role?Legal signs

Thanks, Candice.  I am really excited to talk about the work of E&C, especially at a time when the importance of fair trade is covered in the media almost daily! 

First, let me say that, very simply, I see the role of ITA as helping U.S. companies participate effectively in the global trading system. In E&C, we carry out this mission by providing a suite of services that enhance the strength of U.S. industries and ensure fair competition both at home and abroad. 

To do this, our E&C team has four primary responsibilities:  enforcing the laws on dumped (sold at less-than-fair value) or unfairly subsidized imports, preventing unfair foreign trade barriers, ensuring compliance with trade agreements by our trading partners, and aiding U.S. manufacturers access the benefits of foreign-trade zones.  In short, E&C has the critical responsibility of making sure that international trade works for American manufacturers and workers. 

Let’s touch on each of E&C’s responsibilities a little bit more. What types of services does each team provide to U.S firms and exporters?

One of E&C’s core responsibilities, our bread and butter, is to examine allegations of sales at less-than-fair value and unfair subsidization, which we refer to as antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) investigations.  That means that when a foreign company dumps a product into the U.S. market at an unfair price or when a foreign government unfairly subsidizes a particular product, E&C investigates those practices and, when warranted, provides relief to a domestic industry by imposing a duty on imports.  Currently, we have 51 active investigations into allegations of dumping or unfair subsidization from countries such as China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam.  E&C is also currently enforcing over 460 border measures on products ranging from steel and aluminum to olives and pasta.

E&C also provides advocacy and support for U.S. companies subject to foreign trade remedy actions like AD and safeguard proceedings, and we monitor foreign government compliance with international obligations.  Our E&C team works directly with U.S. companies to help ensure they are well-positioned to defend their interests and our team can even intervene with foreign authorities to protect the interests of U.S. exporters.  In 2016, our advocacy efforts helped lead to the termination of 27 foreign trade remedy actions, affecting approximately $374 million in U.S. exports. 

In addition, E&C makes sure foreign governments comply with the terms of our trade agreements.  Non-compliance often manifests itself as non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports and investment; E&C works with experts across ITA, both at headquarters and in the field, to end these barriers now and secure lasting changes to the offending laws, procedures, or practices so these barriers hopefully don’t occur again in the future.  Trade compliance means making trade agreements work for U.S. industry.

Last, but not least, E&C plays a key role in helping U.S. manufacturers access the benefits of the Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) program.  A FTZ is a special economic area in which manufacturers can operate with delayed or reduced duty payments on imports.  Our FTZs program helps level the playing field by reducing the costs of U.S. operations.  One of our best-known FTZs, for example, is BMW’s factory in South Carolina, which supports $5+ billion in exports annually – over half its production – and 10,000+ jobs.

If a business is interested in learning more, where would you suggest they go? 

If you believe your firm is facing dumping our unfair foreign competition, please contact E&C’s Petition Counseling and Analysis Unit at 202-482-1255.

If your firm or industry is facing a foreign antidumping or countervailing duty investigation, please contact E&C’s Trade Remedy and Compliance Staff at 202-482-3415.

If you need assistance with a foreign trade barrier or would like to report a foreign trade barrier, please contact the Trade Agreement Negotiation and Compliance Office’s hotline at 202-482- 1191.

For matters related to Foreign Trade Zones, please contact 202-482-2862.

For general matters, please contact our experts at the E&C Communication Office at 202-482-0063.

 

 

h1

Faribault: The Most Global Small City in Minnesota

December 19, 2018

Elise Buchen, Deanna Kuennen, Samantha Markman, and Laurence Reszetar promote the State of Minnesota to international business investors at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Trade Office.

This post is part of SelectUSA’s EDO Spotlight series, highlighting the work of EDOs around the country recruiting foreign direct investment, how that work supports jobs and economic growth across the United States, and how SelectUSA partners with EDOs to support economic development.

Standing on Park Avenue in Faribault, Minnesota is just like standing on Park Avenue in New York: everywhere you turn you see successful global businesses.

If you face east, you see the U.S. headquarters of a multi-generational Mexico-based company. Turn west, and you see the U.S. headquarters of a world-leading, high-tech French company. Look slightly northwest and there is a large warehouse teeming with traffic, which is owned by a German company. Just up Park Avenue, a large Japanese firm is building a state-of-the-art facility.Faribault Banner Picture

Faribault is just like New York City… if New York City had a population of 24,000, was located an hour south of Minneapolis, and had a median house price of $182,400.

In truth, Faribault might be the most global small city in Minnesota, if not the world. Its motto is Small Town Pride, Big City Opportunity, and it has the data to back both of those up. Faribault proudly features the following countries and businesses:

  • The global headquarters of Sage Electrochromic Glass, a division of Saint-Gobain (France), is located in Faribault. Sage manufactures specialized glass that remains transparent even as it uses electrochromic technology to block out the solar radiation. Glass is expensive and difficult to ship, so you know it must be the high-quality if it’s being manufactured in Faribault and shipped around the world, from Dubai to Dallas.
  • Faribault Foods, owned by La Costeña (Mexico), just completed its $150 million dollar investment in a first-of-its-kind, vertically-integrated food manufacturing plant in Faribault. When La Costeña made the decision to expand its facility, the opportunities in Faribault caught the company’s attention.
  • Daikin Applied (Japan) just announced its $40 million expansion to build some of the most energy-efficient cooling HVAC units in the U.S. At the heart of the expansion was an unprecedented effort where the county, city, and local economic development authority jointly conducted hearings where the permits and incentives for the project were approved simultaneously by all three bodies. This gave the green light for the company to convert a vacant 300,000 square foot warehouse to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.
  • A German-owned powerhouse in food distribution located on the banks of Interstate 35, Aldi Distribution provides a high-class warehouse and distribution facility for the multinational Aldi food stores. This was one of the first Aldi Distribution facilities in Minnesota. The company recently completed a 60,000 square foot expansion, further proving that Faribault can support the growth and expansion of global industries.

Faribault’s small town pride shows in that nearly 1,350 Faribaultians work for these foreign-owned enterprises. They have titles like mechanical and quality engineers, production control analysts, and manufacturing services liaisons. It’s because of their commitment and the leadership of these global corporations that Faribault’s Small Town Pride creates Big City Opportunities that meet the world’s demands and continue to grow the world’s economy.