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Application Process Opens for U.S. Industry Groups Seeking Awards for Projects that Address Barriers to U.S. Exporters

February 11, 2020

By Brad Hess, Director, Market Development Cooperator Program, Office of Industry Engagement

The International Trade Administration (ITA) invites U.S. trade associations, professional societies, standards developing organizations, and other non-profit industry groups to apply for financial and technical assistance for projects that remove trade barriers to U.S. exporters. Applications for the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) awards are due April 27, 2020.

ITA is conducting a series of conference calls to provide further information on how to compete successfully for a 2020 MDCP award. Potential applicants can check the requirements to determine their eligibility to apply for the program.

Pitch Ideas Now to ITA Officials
Prior to the February 27 MDCP notice being published on grants.gov, applicants will have the chance to brainstorm project ideas with ITA officials.

Interested industry groups should contact Jessica.Dulkadir@trade.gov to discuss their ideas. ITA will also include trade professionals in this initial phase that can give potential applicants useful feedback.

2020 Funding Focus is Removing Trade Barriers
Historically, 30-40 percent of MDCP projects have included a strong focus on removing trade barriers. For the 2020 competition, ITA wants all projects it funds to have such a focus.

An MDCP applicant must propose a project that creates or sustains U.S. jobs by increasing or maintaining exports (priority 1 listed below). In addition, a successful applicant must show how its proposed project will address any two of priorities 2-6 below.

  1. Create or sustain U.S. jobs by increasing or maintaining exports.
  2. Address non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports such as discriminatory regulations, local content requirements, onerous standards or conformity assessment procedures, and other measures that may be unreasonably trade restrictive.
  3. Secure strong intellectual property rights protection and combat counterfeiting and piracy.
  4. Counter discriminatory trade policies such as “indigenous innovation” or “localization.”
  5. Participate in the formulation and encourage the adoption of standards that are industry-developed, market-driven, science-based, and internationally recognized.
  6. When appropriate, encourage the development of aligned regulatory requirements that avoid unnecessary costs on businesses.

Examples of Successful Trade Barrier Removal Projects
It takes time to address and remove trade barriers. This is why MDCP projects must last a minimum of three years. Realistically, most projects need even more time to remove trade barriers like discriminatory standards or regulations. The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) was able to help Indonesia establish a new plumbing code and implement a conformity assessment regime in just three years.

IAPMO advised Indonesia officials on establishing a national plumbing code then openedPhoto and Caption for MDCP Blog 020920 a lab to certify compliance of products with the new code. Indonesia’s newly adopted national plumbing standard, SNI 8153:2015, requires a lab certification of plumbing products. This allows architects, planners, builders, and building owners the certainty they need to choose the right products for the right applications.

Prior to the MDCP project and the adoption of the plumbing code, low quality plumbing products not up to standard were prevalent throughout the country. The shoddy products made urban living miserable for most residents. Their widespread use also made it hard for high quality U.S.-made products to compete. Now all plumbing products must conform to the same high standards.

A more detailed description of the IAPMO project is available at trade.gov/mdcp on the Addressing Trade Barriers page. Highlights of several other current and past MDCP trade barrier projects are available on this page as well.