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A Mission to Explore Southeast Asia’s Hot Healthcare Market

September 28, 2022

Arun Venkataraman is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Assistant Secretary Venkataraman speaks while seated between two other panel members.
Assistant Secretary Venkataraman speaks during a panel discussion at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

Last week, ITA wrapped a trade mission covering two of the hottest topics in trade: healthcare and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). As a leader in healthcare innovation, the United States has much to offer consumers across Southeast Asia—a region of almost 700 billion people! With President Biden’s focus to increase our competitive edge in Asia, the timing couldn’t be better for a trade mission to explore new market opportunities on the other side of the Pacific.

To that end, last week I led 12 U.S. companies on a Healthcare Trade Mission to Southeast Asia, namely Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam, which are all upgrading their healthcare regulations and infrastructure, making them ideally suited to benefit from high-quality U.S. products and services.

Thailand, which has a robust medical travel market, has recently passed extensive medical device regulations that U.S. companies in the healthcare space need to know about. Since U.S. healthcare firms and manufacturers have a strong reputation for quality, after-sales service, and training support, they are well positioned to assist Thailand in fulfilling its needs. Our trip was a fruitful one, with U.S. businesses engaging in one-on-one meetings with potential buyers and partners, which will foster growth in both countries.

Malaysia was one of the first Southeast Asian economies to upgrade their medical device regulations. In 2021, the United States, thanks to our high-quality equipment industries, has maintained our position as the top exporting country of medical devices to Malaysia. Malaysia is now expanding its infrastructure, and because of the inroads we’ve made, we are well-positioned to offer innovative solutions such as digital health, telemedicine, imaging equipment, in-vitro diagnostics, cardiology, and genomics sequencing for precision medicine.

Also, U.S. health care trade in Vietnam has perhaps the greatest potential for development, as Vietnam’s growing middle class is driving increasing demand for high-quality healthcare infrastructure and services, and in recent years the country has also enacted decrees to increase oversight over the medical device sector. The high quality that U.S. companies provide, as well as the innovative healthcare solutions that U.S. companies have available, position the United States as a top choice for Vietnam. Through trade with Vietnam, U.S. companies can reduce the length of hospital stays while facilitating outpatient care and treatment, thereby contributing to lower health care costs while saving and extending countless lives.

People sitting across from each other at tables engage in discussions.
Healthcare Trade Mission participants engage in one-on-one meetings with ITA experts.

Another major purpose of my trip was to promote U.S. trade in this strategic and growing region, which is why I made an important stop before the mission to Singapore, a country viewed by many companies as a trade gateway to Asia. Last year we launched the U.S.-Singapore Partnership for Growth and Innovation (PGI), an initiative designed to significantly expand our economic partnership with Singapore and the ASEAN region, beginning in four areas: digital economy, energy and environmental technologies, advanced manufacturing, and health care. I had the opportunity to meet with Singaporean officials and U.S. and Singaporean businesses to not only hear about the progress we’ve made in these areas, but also how we can further expand bilateral commercial collaboration and build on nearly two decades of growth bolstered by our historic free trade agreement!

While the healthcare sector is not an explicit IPEF focus area, my travel to these countries also allowed me to underscore that the pursuit of IPEF commitments among Indo-Pacific partners has strong potential to deepen commercial ties and increase benefits across the economy, including for health care companies, workers, and consumers. This includes, among other areas: goals of building an environment of trust and confidence in the digital economy and advancing resilient and secure digital infrastructure and platforms; minimizing disruptions and vulnerabilities in the supply chain; and promoting transparency and integrity in government procurement practices. 

Given IPEF as well as our bilateral initiatives, Southeast Asia will continue to be an important region of the world to watch in weeks and months ahead. Next month we’ll be leading an Advanced Manufacturing Trade Mission to Indonesia, Singapore, and Japan. In November, we will lead an Aerospace and Defense Trade Mission to Indonesia. And we’ll be returning to the region in March 2023 when Trade Winds, the largest U.S. government annual trade mission, heads to Bangkok with mission stops to five other countries in the region. Visit the Trade Winds ASEAN web page to learn more!

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From Vaccines to Ice Cream: How Cold Chain Services Support the U.S. Economy

August 24, 2022

Francys Veras is an International Trade Specialist and Thibault Denamiel is an intern in the Office of Supply Chain, Professional and Business Services.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Gloved hands of a research scientist removes a cryotube from a liquid nitrogen cell bank. The vial contains samples of mouse stem cells that have been frozen in the cell bank.

Do you know how your fruits, meats, and vaccines are transported? The perishables in your local grocery store and the vaccines at the pharmacy all rely on cold chain services to get to you. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the services provided by the cold chain logistics sector became particularly vital, as constant and verifiable temperature control during transportation and storage is required to maintain the potency and guarantee the efficacy of vaccines. In the United States alone, the cold chain sector has delivered over 750 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Beyond vaccines, the cold chain sector has become increasingly vital to the global supply chain as a whole: it provides significant economic growth opportunities in both developed and developing nations. In the Commerce Department’s recently published Cold Chain Services Report, we provide an overview of the sector, present an update on the most prevalent cold chain challenges and developments, and highlight cold chain opportunities for U.S. businesses as they strive to refine their supply chain practices.

From Manufacturer to Consumer: The Cookies N’ Cream Journey

Before diving into the key findings of the report, let us first define cold chain logistics. The cold chain can be divided into three main categories: temperature-controlled storage, refrigerated transportation, and cold packaging methods. Let’s paint a picture: imagine a hot summer day – no AC and humidity is high. Buying an ice cream to cool down sounds like a good idea, but how did your favorite cookies n’ cream ice cream get to you? In order to maintain ice cream quality from the manufacturing plant to the consumer, the ice cream must be transported in a refrigerated truck – reefers – from the manufacturer to a refrigerated warehouse. From there, the ice cream will be delivered in reefers to retailers and finally stored in walk-in freezers before making it to the frozen aisle. Ice cream is but one product category that requires cold chain logistics. Now imagine all the other perishables and medicines that necessitate temperature-controlled services to move from start to finish – chilly!

Cold, Hard Facts: Recent Challenges and Developments

The report identifies several challenges facing the cold chain sector. Environmental sustainability issues, warehouse and labor shortages, and public health concerns all figure prominently. Despite technological advances, over 1 billion metric tons of global food waste are created per year, due primarily to a lack of proper facilities, inadequate food handling processes, and improper personnel training. In fact, it is estimated that each year the United States produces 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a result of food loss and waste. Increased investment in the cold chain industry, alongside more rigorous standards emphasized by the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act, would help alleviate these losses and improve health and environmental outcomes.

Another significant sustainability issue concerning cold chain is the level of fossil fuels and refrigerant gases needed for cooling systems, which regulators in the United States and globally have been trying to address. For example, refrigerant gases are being phased down through international commitments like the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and the recent passing of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM), while the industry itself is updating outdated refrigeration equipment in order to become more energy efficient.

The strong growth of the cold chain has created challenges.  An increase in demand for cold chain services since the pandemic’s start, spurred by the growth of e-commerce, coupled with shipping delays throughout the supply chain, has pushed warehouses to capacity. In addition, the shortage of labor has led to an increased shift to automation. The dry container market has seen highly profitable rates during the pandemic, with refrigerated containers at times used to ship dry cargo, causing a shortage of reefer containers.

Keeping it Cool: Looking Beyond the Pandemic

Growth opportunities for U.S. cold chain businesses exist, ranging from adopting sustainable supply chain practices to exporting cutting edge services that will strengthen international cold chain systems. As a fundamental component of a sustainable and economically viable global supply chain, the cold chain sector must work to reduce its carbon footprint. The industry can accomplish this by updating refrigeration systems, utilizing state-of-the-art technologies to improve transparency, and producing reusable packaging solutions. The pandemic highlighted the need for reliable cold chain networks internationally. U.S. cold chain services providers can explore top markets and prepare competitive market entry strategies with help from ITA trade and commercial specialists.

To learn more about the recent challenges and developments facing the U.S. cold chain sector and how we can help you export your cold chain services abroad, contact our team.  

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Attention International Business Owners: Get Noticed and Create Your U.S. Presence

August 9, 2022

Active participation in the SelectUSA Investment Summit helps international investors see success in the U.S.
Jasjit Singh is the Executive Director of SelectUSA

Are you interested in U.S. investment and looking to attract international investors, collaborate with U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs), or receive guidance on which state you should move your business to in the United States? If so, mark your calendars for the next SelectUSA Investment Summit, which returns May 1-4, 2023, to the Washington, D.C. area. The Investment Summit is the United States’ premier platform to bring attention to your organization and find out about investment opportunities within the United States.

A text graphic image with a variation of the SelectUSA star logo which contains the wording "2023 May 1-4 SelectUSA Investment Summit" as well as "SelectUSA Investment Summit CALL FOR SPEAKERS" and the "SelectUSASummit" hashtag.

Speaking at SelectUSA’s Investment Summit is a particularly good way to garner attention for your organization and provide expert assistance to those interested in U.S. investment. SelectUSA’s application for 2023 Investment Summit speakers is now open for you to submit speaker suggestions or apply to speak yourself. Speaker applications close on September 2.

The 2022 SelectUSA Investment Summit in June was the largest ever, with more than 3,600 attendees. This includes 2,000 international delegates from more than 70 global markets, about 650 economic development representatives from 51 states and territories, more than 300 speakers from around the world, and nearly 300 service providers from various companies.

If you want a taste of what of what happens at the Investment Summit, here are highlights from our 2022 program:

  • Topics from breakout sessions were many and varied and included: tips on pitching your product to different regions in the world; shipping and logistics; federal tax credits and incentives; resources for inventors; opportunities in various industries; and much more.
  • Topics from the plenary sessions provided guidance and insight for all attendees and included: advantages of investing in the United States and particular states/regions; secrets of successful investment in the United States; partnering with the USA in areas such clean energy and the food industry, including funding available; what underserved communities offer investors; apprenticeships and where to find them; what the United States is doing to fix supply chain issues; and more.
  • Participation in SelectUSA Investment Summits creates success stories! At the 2021 Summit, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo met with the CEO of Saitex, a sustainable denim manufacturer. Since then, Saitex opened a $17 million factory in Los Angeles and plans to hire more than 200 employees. And at the 2021 Summit’s Select Global Women in Tech program, TurtleTree CEO Fengru Lin participated in the Success Stories panel. Since then, the Singapore-based biotech startup invested $800,000 to launch its R&D headquarters in California.

View the full 2022 agenda to see the full scale of SelectUSA’s Investment Summit programming. Don’t wait for 2023 to get involved! The time is now to plan your attendance, exhibit, or pursue a speaking opportunity for next year’s Investment Summit! Agenda items will include plenary programming, SelectUSA Tech pitching sessions, and timely themes reflecting the U.S. investment environment and industry trends. SelectUSA also invites members of the foreign direct investment (FDI) community to propose qualified speakers the 2023 Investment Summit. Remember, the deadline for speakers is September 2. Apply now!

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Complying with Sanctions and Export Controls in Russia and Belarus

August 3, 2022

Agnes Pawelkowska is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration’s Office of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

This blog is part of an ongoing series designed to provide U.S. exporters with information and resources on developments pertaining to U.S. sanctions and export controls in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Regulations and market conditions can change with little notice. Companies are encouraged to reach out to the Points of Contact listed at the end of this article for latest information.

Page of paper with words Due Diligence and glasses.

As discussed in our previous blog, Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine and the subsequent Western sanctions and export controls imposed have forced U.S. exporters to rethink the way they perceive the Russian market and conduct business in the country. It has also prompted all of us at the International Trade Administration (ITA) to consider how best we can support U.S. exporters as they seek to ensure their businesses are in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. As such, ITA’s Office of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia has compiled and centralized a series of resources that may be of assistance to U.S. exporters. Please see the complete document on the ITA Russia web page for additional details and read on for a high-level overview of the resources that the document contains.

U.S. Government Information & Resources

  • While the United States government has imposed significant sanctions and export controls on Russia in response to its unlawful aggression against Ukraine, some U.S. companies can still do business in Russia.
  • In addition to sanctions and export controls on Russia, the U.S. government has also imposed stringent restrictions on Belarus, including new export controls, in response to its substantial enabling of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is the lead agency for implementing and enforcing sanctions. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and its Export Administration Regulations (EAR) are the lead agents for implementing and enforcing export controls.

Export Controls

  • Humanitarian aid, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, and telecommunication devices which support the free flow of information are generally exempt from export controls.
  • Apart from the above, to see if your transaction is affected, check out end users on the Consolidated Screening List (CSL) on ITA’s website. A search tool and a downloadable list are available.
  • Make sure your product is properly classified and does not require a BIS license due to expanded export controls against Russia and Belarus. To find out more, call an export counselor at (202) 482-4811 (Washington D.C. outreach office), or at (949) 660-0144 (Western regional office), or e-mail EXDOEXS@bis.doc.gov.

Sanctions

  • To see lists of sanctioned persons and sanctions programs, check out the OFAC website.
  • Check with your financial institution before contracting for payment from Russia. More than 80% of Russia’s financial sector is currently sanctioned by the United States.

General Recommendations for U.S. Exporters Considering Russia or Belarus

  • Sign up for automatic e-mail notifications from OFAC.
  • Check the Federal Register for BIS, OFAC, and other USG actions and set up an account that will allow you to receive automatic e-mail notification of U.S. government actions regarding Russia.

ITA Points of Contact

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Supply Chain Sustainability: An Opportunity for U.S. Businesses

July 29, 2022

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Caroline Kaufman and Francys Veras are International Trade Specialists in the Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of global supply chains, making them a household matter for everyday Americans. Across the country, Americans have experienced shortages of essential products, such as toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, and bottled water, as well as long delays to receive products ranging from household furniture to exercise bikes. As images of empty store shelves and backlogged cargo ships in ports became commonplace, so did the call for stronger, more resilient U.S. supply chains.

For U.S. supply chains to be strong and resilient, they must also be sustainable. Each process in the supply chain, from procurement of sustainable raw materials to low-emission delivery of the product, can be assessed to mitigate its environmental impacts. Sustainable supply chains not only protect global value chains in periods of crisis like a pandemic, but they can also improve overall productivity and help businesses reduce waste. In addressing the climate crisis, stakeholders across the supply chain must recognize that dependence on fossil fuels for the majority of supply chain activity is not a long-term solution.

A pie chart depicting U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by economic sector in 2020 with the transportation sector accounting for 27 percent of total emissions. The next source of GHG emissions is the electricity sector with 25 percent, followed by industry with 24 percent, commercial and residential with 13 percent, and agriculture with 11 percent. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Since 1990-2020.
Figure 1: The pie chart depicts U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by economic sector in 2020, with the transportation sector accounting for 27 percent of total emissions. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Since 1990-2020. Most recent data was released in April 2022.

In 2020, the U.S. transportation sector accounted for the largest portion (27 percent) of total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Freight transportation accounted for over one third of those emissions. With transportation services responsible for the movement of global trade, these supply chain services industries are increasingly critical to addressing not only the supply chain crisis, but also the climate crisis.

Moving the Needle Forward: Public and Private Sector Must Work Together

The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized strengthening U.S. supply chains, as well as creating sustainable U.S. supply chains. In November 2021, Congress passed the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, or the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA), which invests $17 billion in modernizing infrastructure at coastal ports, inland ports, waterways, and land ports of entry.  

A graphic showing a cardboard airplane trailed by green leaves on a blue background.

The Administration has also worked closely with the private sector to set ambitious goals across the freight logistics industries, for example by announcing the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Grand Challenge in September 2021. The SAF Grand Challenge seeks to inspire the domestic production of at least three billion gallons per year of SAF by 2030 and 35 billion gallons of SAF by 2050, enough to supply 100 percent of projected U.S. aviation fuel demand in 2050.

While government initiatives are part of the solution, supply chain sustainability initiatives must also be led by the private sector. Across the different freight transportation industries – including aviation, maritime, rail and truck – U.S. businesses have committed to creating both a more resilient and more sustainable domestic supply chain.

ITA’s Supply Chain Sustainability Efforts and New Report

To help identify where opportunities and challenges exist for U.S. supply chain businesses, ITA’s Office of Supply Chain, Professional and Business Services (OSCPBS) works to address policy and regulatory issues to ensure that the U.S. supply chain system will be among the world’s greenest and most sustainable in facilitating the movement of goods across the nation and abroad. We identify the latest U.S. industry developments in supply chain sustainability. Using that information, we support industry in reducing their carbon footprint and work to enhance the competitiveness of sustainable U.S. transportation and logistics services.

ITA’s OSCPBS recently published a Supply Chain Sustainability Report that examines related key trends, public and private sector initiatives for a more sustainable future across the major modes of freight transportation, and describes how the Biden-Harris Administration and industry have worked together to set ambitious goals to reduce emissions, an important groundwork for progress. It notes that fuel technologies are a key area for research and investment for U.S. freight companies, and it offers examples of ongoing developments. It also notes that while the private sector has been increasingly innovating to address climate change, there continues to be a great need for strong regulatory and market incentives to accelerate decarbonization in the freight sector.

Check out ITA’s Supply Chain Sustainability Report to learn more.

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Turn Export Opportunities into Sales: New Online Trade Finance Guide Makes it Easier than Ever

July 27, 2022

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Yuki Fujiyama is a trade finance specialist in the Office of Finance and Insurance Industries and the author of the Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters.

Many U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) struggle to find ways to expand their sales, unaware of the economic potential that lies in diverse global markets. And, with 95% of the world’s consumers residing outside of the United States, it can be daunting to consider how to reach them and navigate global trade.

Front cover image of ITA's Trade Finance Guide, A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) is dedicated to helping U.S. businesses reach success through exports. One of the ways we do this is through ITA’s free online resource, our Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters.

This concise, easy-to-understand and use tool was first published in 2007 and specifically developed as a how-to guide for U.S. SMEs seeking to enter and expand their businesses in global markets, while also overcoming common challenges to leverage export opportunities into actual sales. Whether you’ve been in business for years or are just starting out in the export market, we have the information and resources you need to make well-informed decisions and get your business on the map.

Let me walk you through our guide.

What is the Trade Finance Guide?

The Trade Finance Guide covers the most commonly used trade finance techniques and U.S. government export finance programs written in plain, easy-to-understand language. The Guide is:

  • A “60-minute” self-learning tool for America’s new-to-export SMEs that wish to learn about their financing options and how to ensure getting paid from export sales.
  • A user-friendly counseling tool for international credit, banking, and trade finance professionals and export counselors for client assistance and business development.
  • A flexible educational tool for academic institutions teaching international business subjects.

Our guide uses a no-nonsense approach to make it easier for new-to-export SMEs to learn the basics of trade finance and to understand how to mitigate the risk of non-payment while winning new cross-border sales opportunities and assuring the delivery of goods and services to importers.

What’s New 2022?

The Guide is now an online-based publication! ITA will continuously update the new online edition of the Guide, including making available a downloadable version with revisions annually.

The modernizedGuide has been refined to provide better clarity, and adds two new chapters targeting SMEs in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to explore financial innovation through digitalization:

  • Chapter 1:   Access to Capital for Startups in Global Markets
  • Chapter 16: Emerging Trends: The Digitalization of Trade Finance

Finally, the Trade Finance Guide website will post short resource videos in the following chapters:

We hope that you’ll use this information to think globally when planning business strategy. Remember that ITA has dedicated staff to assist you, regardless of what step in the process you’re in.

The 2022 online edition of the Trade Finance Guide was developed in collaboration with the following private-sector organizations and U.S. government export finance agencies.

Private Sector Organizations:

  • BAFT:  Bankers Association for Finance and Trade
  • FCIB:  Finance, Credit, and International Business Association
  • ICTF:  Association of International Credit & Trade Finance Professionals
  • IFA:  International Factoring Association
  • ITFA:  International Trade and Forfaiting Association – Americas Regional Chapter
  • NASBITE:  NASBITE International
  • Thunderbird: Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University

U.S. Government Export Finance Agencies:

For more information about the Trade Finance Guide, contact Yuki Fujiyama, the author and project manager of the Guide, in ITA’s Office of Finance and Insurance Industries via email at yuki.fujiyama@trade.gov .

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Exporting across the Globe: Spotlight on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

July 18, 2022

Janelle Santerre Weyek is a senior commercial officer in the Foreign Commercial Service at the International Trade Administration.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Plants grow from soil with a light bulb at the right end, with an upward trending graph line above the plants and lightbulb.

You have probably heard of the World Bank and the IMF (also known as the International Monetary Fund). You also may have heard of some others, e.g., the Inter-American Development Bank, the African Development Bank, or the Asian Development Bank. These institutions are also known as multilateral development banks (MDBs). Although you may not have heard of is the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), now is a great time to learn.

Put simply, MDBs provide financial and technical support to developing countries seeking to strengthen their economic management and reduce poverty. Across the globe every year, these banks lend billions of dollars to countries seeking to improve their economies and the lives of their citizens. They also offer numerous business opportunities for U.S. companies to expand their international footprint while simultaneously supporting global economic development.

For the past 3 years, I have served as the International Trade Administration’s liaison to the EBRD in London. Established in 1991, the EBRD has invested over 160 billion euros in more than 6,000 projects. In particular, the EBRD is a leader in climate finance and has launched extensive programming that dovetails with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment and clean technology priorities, making EBRD an ideal partner for ITA in collaborating on targeted outreach to U.S. industry.

During my time at the EBRD, I deepened the relationship between ITA and the EBRD to better support U.S. business interests and expand opportunities for U.S. companies interested in competing for tenders issued by the EBRD. This May, my EBRD colleagues and I finalized an unprecedented memorandum of understanding through the ITA Strategic Partnership Program. This memorandum will help us to better support U.S. businesses interested in working with the EBRD in specific priority sectors, namely the digital economy, the green economy and clean tech.

This first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding mean for ITA and U.S companies advances three key objectives:

  1. The memorandum will facilitate engagement between EBRD borrowers and U.S. industry decision-makers. That is, it will facilitate engagements that will put U.S. businesses in the room with clients of the EBRD, this will help to inform U.S. industry of the bank’s goals and objectives, as well as opportunities to get involved.
  2. The memorandum can provide immense opportunities for U.S. small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). This is because the memorandum focuses specifically on increasing engagement on the EBRD’s Green Cities Program, which is a strong match for U.S. industry and U.S. small, medium-sized, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses, as the program has municipal-level opportunities of the appropriate size and scale for diverse enterprises looking for new business.
  3. Enhanced public engagement and counseling with U.S. businesses that target projects with international development financing. As a result of this memorandum, ITA is organizing a series of best practices roundtables and webinars that will involve ITA and EBRD clients, EBRD decision-makers and program leads that will take place over the next several months and throughout the fall of 2022.

While we’re just getting started on this partnership, I am very excited about the increased programming and support to boost U.S. businesses access and exposure to opportunities through this new partnership between ITA and the EBRD.

Please visit trade.gov to learn more about ITA’s work with multilateral development banks or check out ITA’s Guide to Doing Business with the Multilateral Development Banks.

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Russia-Ukraine War: Perspectives U.S. Exporters Need to Know

June 22, 2022

Evan Johnson and Agnes Pawelkowska are international trade specialists at the International Trade Administration’s Office of Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Russia’s latest unprovoked attack on Ukraine, and the Western sanctions that have followed, have had profound impacts on the global economy and forced businesses operating in Russia to re-think their way forward. Although numerous U.S. companies have successfully operated in Russia for many years, many are deciding to either withdraw from the market or suspend their operations in Russia, regardless of the significant economic losses incurred.

In a series of market intelligence pieces, we’ll try to address some of the pressing questions, offer insights, and share updates on how the International Trade Administration and its U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service are working to support U.S. exporters as they navigate these complex considerations.

What is the current economic situation and is it sustainable to do business in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine?

The United States first levied sanctions after Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, seizing Crimea and supporting separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.  During the 2014-2021 period, most businesses outside of a few targeted sectors were able to adjust over time. However, the new international sanctions adopted beginning in February 2022 have been much more swift, severe, and comprehensive, forcing companies to reconsider their business operations in the Russian market. Payment transactions, letters-of-credit, insurance, foreign exchange operations, profit repatriation, new investment, international travel and staffing, and logistics all have become much more complicated. In light of these developments, U.S. companies with regional headquarters in Moscow have had to consider alternative arrangements to sustain their presence in the broader Eurasia region. Although some companies have chosen to stay in Russia while temporarily suspending operations, others have found that the already challenging business environment in Russia has become increasingly unstable and unpredictable virtually overnight. Complicating matters further, Russia has threatened Western companies with retaliatory measures, including proposals to seize the assets of Western companies that decide to leave Russia.

Close up of Central Asia on a colorful world map.

What are U.S. companies doing?

As it becomes increasingly difficult to conduct and plan business in Russia, there are a number of relocation alternatives and alternative markets to consider for companies who would like to sustain their presence in the Eurasia region. Some Russian citizens and businesses have already started to move to Central Asia and the Caucasus. Multilateral development banking institutions have shown renewed interest in supporting regional renewable energy, infrastructure, and agricultural projects.

U.S. companies rethinking investment positions in Russia may want to consider industries ripe for growth in Central Asia. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are currently courting U.S. companies in the extractive industries, and firms able to supply the engineering, mining, oil and gas, construction, and infrastructure sectors have good opportunities to expand their presence in the region. These nations not only possess an abundance of natural resources, but both countries are touting their political and economic reforms as selling points that could appeal to U.S. companies looking to shore up footholds in a region made difficult by the sanctions and export controls imposed against Russia.

Opportunities are also ripe for U.S. exporters in agriculture/agribusiness, environmental technology and healthcare sectors.

How is the U.S. government able to help?

Whether U.S. companies are looking to understand the complexities of sanctions and export controls or considering reorienting their regional sales plans or operational footprints, the U.S. government has resources to assist companies conduct due diligence and to consult directly with the agencies responsible for developing and implementing these actions.

For example, the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Asset Control (OFAC) offers consultations on specific sanctions questions. Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) export counselors can also consult on specific questions regarding a business’ products and the export control lists that BIS administers. Furthermore, the Commerce Department’s Consolidated Screening List search tool is the most comprehensive due diligence tool for checking entities and individuals against the U.S. government’s sanctions and export control lists.

An upcoming segment will take a look at the current business environment in Ukraine. The U.S. government continues to coordinate humanitarian and other relief to Ukraine. To learn more or get involved, visit our Ukraine: Support and Engagement page.

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Indo-Pacific in the News: Tremendous Opportunity Awaits Exporters

June 17, 2022

Pamela Phan is ITA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia

Families who immigrate to America sometimes do so under the most dire of circumstances. I would consider my family’s journey to achieve the American Dream to fall into that category. More than 40 years ago, my family witnessed the ravages of war and had to make the difficult decision to leave behind a country that was in tatters, forced to rebuild from the ground up. I was very young – a mere child refugee fleeing Vietnam – when this happened, but my family’s heart-wrenching journey has inspired my career in international relations, and ultimately, to public service to help countries like Vietnam set sights on a brighter future.

Last week, I had the opportunity to return to Vietnam – this time, as head of a U.S. government-led trade mission aimed at building bridges between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments and businesses in the area of clean energy. Like many other countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Vietnam is looking ahead and embracing bold new initiatives to ready itself for the global economy of the future. Nowhere is this more apparent than in its plans for a clean energy transition and for smart, sustainable development.

ITA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia Pamela Phan sits at a conference tables alongside participants of the U.S. Clean EDGE Asia Trade Mission. On the table is a placard with her name, and she is speaking with members of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Pamela Phan, ITA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, speaks with the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, about collaboration opportunities with the U.S. public and private sector.

Southeast Asia’s energy challenges and ITA’s mission to help

Within the Indo-Pacific region, Southeast Asia is home to some of the fastest growth in the world, which drives increasing energy demands from active customers, as well as from 65 million people who are waiting for access to electricity. Over the next five years, electricity demand is expected to grow more than five percent annually. By 2040, the International Energy Agency estimates more than $2.7 trillion will be required for cumulative energy investment in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.

These are the drivers that led ITA to organize a trade mission under the banner of Clean EDGE Asia, a whole-of-government effort to advance U.S. clean energy interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Through Clean EDGE Asia, the U.S. government seeks to mobilize private sector investment in clean energy, accelerate regional decarbonization efforts, and support energy security and access through the adoption of clean energy solutions. This trade mission focused on three countries: Vietnam, one of Asia’s fastest growing energy markets; Indonesia, where plans are underway for the green, smart, and sustainable new capital city of Nusantara; and the Philippines, where an increasing population (currently 110 million), an infrastructure boom, and some of the highest electricity costs in Southeast Asia have all converged to present formidable energy challenges.

ITA brings U.S. companies to the table

Because of climate change, all three countries struggle with rising sea levels, soil salinization, and extreme weather, which profoundly affect their communities. To build the infrastructure necessary to maintain growth and assist with energy transition, while accounting for the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation, all three countries urgently need additional support and investment. Our trade mission was there at the right time, in all the right places, to offer cutting-edge U.S. solutions from 11 industry-leading organizations in the sectors of renewable energy and fuels, energy storage, hydrogen, smart grid, nuclear energy, and liquefied natural gas.

The companies that joined us on this trade mission met with foreign buyers, distributors, investors, industry organizations, and government leaders in the four booming cities of Jakarta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Manila. Industry and market specialists from ITA and our U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service arranged for customized business-to-business matchmaking meetings, individualized country briefings, market data presentations, and important dialogues with influential foreign government and policy leaders.

Skyline of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was the third city visited on the Clean EDGE Asia Business Development Mission.

More trade missions to come

This trade mission was the U.S. Government’s first to the region since last month’s launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). IPEF is designed to tackle 21st century economic challenges that include managing energy transition and investing in quality, modern infrastructure. Through IPEF, the United States is partnering with 13 economies that represent around 40 percent of world GDP, span two oceans from India to Fiji, and include advanced democracies, developing nations, and a diversity of history, culture, and opportunity — all with the shared goals of creating good-paying jobs, competing in the global economy, and being good stewards to our environment.

If you have a business invested or interested in trade with the Indo-Pacific region, now is an exciting and important time to follow the progress we are making through IPEF and our other regional initiatives. In September, we’ll be returning to the region for a Healthcare Sector Business Development Mission to Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. This will be followed one month later by our Advanced Manufacturing Trade Mission to Indonesia and Singapore, with an optional stop in Japan. Finally, please mark your calendars for March 2023 for Trade Winds ASEAN in Bangkok, Thailand, which is the U.S. government’s largest trade mission and business development forum. Businesses of all shapes and sizes in the United States and Asia will convene at Trade Winds ASEAN to explore new markets, build international networks, and achieve success while supporting businesses, communities, and nations.

There is much to look forward to in the months ahead, for communities and businesses on both sides the Pacific. We hope that your company’s journey with us will begin now.

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Trade Mission 101: Why Your Business Should Go

May 12, 2022

Gemal Brangman is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Trade Events Task Force

In a given year, the U.S. government leads or facilitates around 14 trade missions throughout the world—bringing U.S. businesses (quite literally) to the table with foreign governments and companies potentially interested in their products and solutions. Trade isn’t simply about exports and imports: transactions can’t happen without trust, and trade missions are an important conduit to build and facilitate relationships between individuals. But what exactly does a trade mission entail, who is involved, and where do they happen? The short answer: It varies, so let us break it down for you.

An image of business people engaged in a conversation
Participants of a trade mission consult with ITA’s commercial diplomats to gain insights and identify market opportunities.

Put simply, a trade mission is an opportunity for a company to join a group of other companies for a series of tailored on-the-ground meetings in foreign markets with prospective clients, buyers, distributors, foreign officials, and other significant organizations, all with the support of the U.S. Government. Through the International Trade Administration’s (ITA)’s Industry and Analysis business unit and the U.S. Commercial Service, we research markets and industries around the world to inform U.S. businesses of all sizes of potential export opportunities. Based on this information, we then begin the large logistical undertaking of planning out opportunities for U.S. companies to travel alongside our experts so companies can see with their own eyes what our market intelligence data reveals and so that actors in foreign markets can see what U.S. companies have to offer.

Relationships are the backbone of trade, and trade missions are among the best ways to help build them. Just last month, we concluded the second in-person trade mission that ITA has led since the onset of the pandemic. The Cybersecurity Trade Mission to South America brought 10 U.S. companies to Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay to introduce them to key players in rapidly expanding cybersecurity markets in those countries. Through the work of U.S. Commercial Service staff at U.S. embassies in the four countries, over 240 business-to-business matchmaking meetings took place, and now several companies are pursuing new trade leads thanks to their participation in the mission.

For example, ISG of Raleigh, North Carolina, is a minority-owned cyber solutions services provider that participated in the mission. On the value of the experience, ISG Company President and CEO Tony Marshall said, “Our meetings were all pre-arranged and we only met with companies that understand what we did, and know what we have to offer. We even found connections with some of the other businesses that were traveling with us.”

The Cybersecurity Trade Mission to South America was not the first trade mission that ITA led, nor will it be the last. Over the next two months, we will also lead our first Minority-Business Focused Trade Mission, a second trade mission to South America led by Deputy Secretary Don Graves, and the CleanEDGE Trade Mission to Southeast Asia. But you don’t have to travel internationally to start your export journey. Our U.S. Commercial Service has more than 100 offices across the 50 states and locations in more than 75 international markets to help you get started or expand into new territory.

While these missions are designed for U.S. companies exploring global markets, there are also opportunities for international companies looking to invest and create jobs in the United States through the SelectUSA Investment Summit, to be held June 26-29 just outside of Washington, DC at the National Harbor in Maryland. The Investment Summit is the highest-profile event in the United States dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment into the United States.

As such, whether you’re a U.S. company looking to expand or an international company seeking U.S. suppliers for your supply chain, the U.S. Commercial Service at the International Trade Administration is ready to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your nearest U.S. Commercial Service office if you’d like to learn more!