Author Archive


Spotlight on Commerce: Karen Garcia, Special Advisor to the Executive Director of SelectUSA

October 4, 2016

Karen Garcia, Special Advisor to the Executive Director of SelectUSA

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

As Special Advisor to the Executive Director of SelectUSA, I advise the Executive Director on a range of policy and operational processes that allow us to use the convening power of the U.S. government to showcase this nation as the prime location for investment and ultimately job creation.

I was born and raised in Colorado to parents who arrived from Mexico in search of their very own American dream. Inspired by my parents, one thing was engrained in me, dedicate completely to education – as it is the only way to achieve not only a better life, but also a gratifying career. After a few years, I became the first person in my family to graduate from high school and go to college. Once at the University of Colorado in Boulder I decided to major in International Affairs and Italian, where I submerged myself in international issues I observed while in Mexico. I subsequently obtained my Master’s Degree in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs at American University, where my desire to work in the public sector only strengthened.

Through my educational and professional career, I’ve received immense support from a number of successful Hispanic Americans and organizations such as the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities who have all contributed to who and where I am now. As I meet younger generations of Hispanic Americans interested in my field, I encourage them to be active and grow their social capital by: engaging in the issues important to them and their communities; seek out the volunteer and professional opportunities available throughout the country and abroad; and more importantly to work hard and zealously at everything they do.

As the Hispanic Heritage Month continues, I cannot help but think of a quote by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, my favorite author: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” As a Mexican American connected to her roots, I see and hear the hundreds of thousands of dreams alive in the Hispanic American community and I hope I can assist in keep the dreams alive and the dreamers young.


Our Partnership with Canada – Beyond the Border

September 29, 2016

Kyle Wells is the Canada Desk Officer at the International Trade Administration

Today, the Obama administration and the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released the annual “Beyond the Border” (BTB) Implementation Report. The joint document highlights key accomplishments under the BTB Action Plan launched in 2011 by President Obama and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The vision of BTB is to enhance perimeter security and economic competitiveness while facilitating legitimate trade and travel across our shared border.

The BTB Action Plan describes four key areas of cooperation between the United States and Canada:

• Addressing threats early
• Trade facilitation, economic growth, and jobs
• Integrated cross-border law enforcement
• Critical infrastructure and cybersecurity

The United States and Canada have made tremendous progress since launching the BTB. Major accomplishments include:

• Signed an historic Preclearance Agreement that will, once in force, enable new preclearance operations on both sides of the border in all modes of transportation (land, rail, marine, and air), facilitating trade and travel for Americans and Canadians.
• Reached 1.3 million Nexus members, as of December 2015 – representing an increase of nearly 17 percent over 2014 and over 110 percent since 2011. Data from fall 2015 show that the majority of NEXUS members using the dedicated commuter lanes were processed within 25 seconds.
• Worked with Mexico to expand eligibility across North America in our respective trusted traveler programs that speed the entry of pre-screened travelers.
• Issued the second annual Border Infrastructure Investment Plan, conducted consultations with stakeholders, and held a series of regional webinar roundtables to help harmonize efforts to move forward with deploying wait time solutions at crossings.
Next week, government officials from the United States and Canada will convene the annual Executive Steering Committee via video conference to discuss ongoing and future work under the BTB Action Plan. For more information on BTB, please visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website:


Help us Celebrate Manufacturing Day!

September 29, 2016

 Laura Taylor-Kale is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing 

Next Friday, October 7, manufacturers from across the country will open their doors to showcase exciting careers possibilities as part of this year’s Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY). The Department of Commerce and our partners at the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, the Manufacturing Institute, and the National Association of Manufacturers have seen tremendous excitement and growth since the first celebration in 2012. Last year, more than 400,000 people attended 2,400 events nationwide.  Many of these events give students an opportunity to take a practical (and fun!) first step toward manufacturing careers and to see what modern manufacturing looks like.

As ITA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, I know that U.S. manufacturers are key contributors to the U.S. economy at home and abroad. A recent ITA report showed that total U.S. exports support more than a quarter of U.S. manufacturing industry employment and that the industries with the highest share of employment supported by exports are all manufacturing industries.  The International Trade Administration helps U.S. companies take advantage of export opportunities by providing timely market intelligence, such as our Top Markets Report Series, and access to a broad spectrum of federal programs that can help manufacturers succeed in the international marketplace. Information on these programs can be found on our websites and

So join me, my ITA colleagues, and our industry partners on October 7 to celebrate American manufacturing and its impact on our local communities and the global economy.  We encourage you to spread the message about Manufacturing Day and join the conversation on social media using #MFGDay16.  We hope you will join us in this effort!



U.S. Companies Explore Opportunities in the Brazilian Healthcare Sector

September 28, 2016

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration

Brazil has always represented a major part of my policy portfolio at the Department of Commerce. I am now particularly honored to be here to participate in the Department of Commerce’s third annual Health IT Trade Mission.


Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary for ITA

Eight innovative U.S. health IT companies (including UnitedHealth, 3M, and Oracle), as well as Keck School of Medicine of USC, are participating in this trade mission, which runs from September 26 to 30. They are learning firsthand about opportunities in the Brazilian healthcare sector, while showcasing innovative technologies with Brazilian government policymakers, regulators, and hospital CEO’s and CIO’s, as well as other industry leaders.

The major focus of this trade mission was the Hospital Innovation Show, the preeminent health technology innovation show in Latin America. The show provided an opportunity to share the most advanced health technology solutions and practices, including value-based care, precision medicine, population health management, patient engagement, health data interoperability, analytics, and mobile health. I had the honor of both delivering the keynote address as well as participating in the signature symposium, “Building a 21st Century Healthcare System.”

The trade mission also provided an opportunity to understand and explain why the U.S. and Brazil should deepen its healthcare partnership. One reason is the incredible opportunities in the global healthcare market, driven by the fact that the global middle class will more than double by 2030, which will increase demand for quality healthcare products and services. Another reason is our shared healthcare challenges. Both the U.S. and Brazil will have to contend with a future defined by higher healthcare costs, while dependency ratios will continue to rise in both countries as our populations live longer.

We also have to take on complex global health challenges, namely the Zika virus as the most pressing challenge. Over the past year, the U.S. and Brazil have held high-level discussions to cooperate on the fight against Zika, and recently the U.S. Government announced it would contribute US$3 million to expand Brazil’s vaccine production capability.

All of this means that our public sectors need to create the environment where our health innovator communities can continue to exchange ideas and collaborate; where participants in our integrated supply chains can continue to work effectively and efficiently; and where our healthcare goods and services can continue flow freely in both directions. Because of the work we have achieved under the U.S.-Brazil Commercial Dialogue, we have already taken steps to create that environment.

The United States is committed to a strong and dynamic relationship with Brazil, and I believe we can continue to strengthen this relationship through greater trade and investment. I would encourage all companies that are interested in doing business in Brazil to reach out to the U.S. Commercial Service in Brazil to find out how they can help you capitalize on commercial opportunities in the healthcare space in market. You can find out more information here.


Strengthening the U.S.- Canada Commercial Relationship

September 28, 2016

Shawn M. Ricks is Senior Policy Advisor for Special Projects & Outreach in the Office of North America, Western Hemisphere at the International Trade Administration

Yesterday, Deputy Director General Judy Reinke was in Toronto, Ontario to address a high-level delegation of 50 representatives from 27 countries, as part of the Sixth Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE VI). Reinke underscored the importance of the U.S.– Canada commercial relationship, outlined ITA’s priorities in the Western Hemisphere, and highlighted the benefits of innovation and regional integration to achieving our shared economic objectives.


Deputy Director General Reinke with the Toronto Commercial Service team.

As part of her trip, she toured the University of Toronto, where she witnessed a demonstration of applications for unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and robots, as well as participated in several panels on the advancement of big data, artificial intelligence, and robotics, and the impact they have on innovation and the economy. She also toured one of Canada’s largest incubators for emerging tech startups at Ryerson University, the top-ranked university incubator in North America, and third in the world.

During her visit to Toronto, she also met with Commercial Service Principal Commercial Officer (PCO) Eric Crowley, Deputy PCO Shakir Farsakh, and their entire team, where she spoke on the importance of the trip to develop bilateral tech industries, and also commended the team on their efforts to assist U.S. small- and medium-sized companies and to strengthen the U.S. trade and investment with Canada.

Ms. Reinke’s trip comes on the heels of Director General Arun Kumar’s visit in April 2016.

For more information on our Commercial Service team in Toronto, visit us on the web.


U.S. Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center Assists General Electric in Providing World-Class Healthcare Technology to Hospitals in Greece

September 26, 2016

By Bryan Larson, Senior Commercial Officer in Athens, with editorial assistance by Monika Krol, Commercial Officer, Advocacy Center

The International Trade Administration (ITA) works on behalf of U.S. companies both at home and abroad. The ITA’s Advocacy Center, in coordination with the Senior Commercial Officer in Greece, and the Greek Country Desk Officer, were instrumental in securing a win in the healthcare sector in Greece for an American company.

The Greek market has been tough for U.S. companies to compete in due to the country’s seven- year recession, a byzantine bureaucracy, and a public procurement system that historically lacked transparency.  However, GE Healthcare has generated a record of success in the Greek market by working closely with both the ITA and the Greek Government to improve public procurement of some of the world’s best medical technology.        doctors

The case involved exclusive advocacy by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who emphasized to the Greek Prime Minister the need for modern and transparent processes in the Public Procurement System, leveling the playing field for not only GE Healthcare, but all U.S. companies selling medical device and diagnostic equipment in Greece.

This advocacy yielded solutions that benefited Greek patients and ensured that Greek hospitals received the best equipment at the best price.

GE Healthcare competed for a large contract to provide medical technology (PET/CT equipment) to Greece’s Agia Sofia Children’s Hospital.  The sale – which is 100 percent U.S. export content and supports American jobs – followed a concerted multi-year effort by the U.S. Commerce Department to work with the Greek Government to reduce discrimination in their public healthcare procurement system against U.S. companies for the benefit of European competitors.  ITA’s team coordinated with the State Department, including the U.S. Ambassador, to ensure that GE Healthcare and the Healthcare Working Group’s agenda remained a top priority for the Greek Government. When the European company that was originally awarded the contract couldn’t deliver the goods, the Greek hospital relied on GE Healthcare to provide the life-saving equipment for its child patients.

This hard-fought advocacy campaign resulted in an agreement to create an authoritative Central Committee of Objections to fairly arbitrate appeals on public tenders.  Additionally, the Greek Government passed and enacted a new Public Procurement Law on August 3, 2016.  In partnering with the private sector, this model of Commercial Diplomacy not only resulted in bottom-line results for U.S. companies, but also led to long-term systemic change that will benefit American businesses, U.S. jobs, and the Greek people for years to come.

To learn more about our Advocacy Center and services to U.S. companies, visit us on the web. To learn more about medical device markets abroad, download our 2016 Top Markets Report.



How Opportunity Impacts Economic Success in Africa

September 21, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blogGuest blog post by Bloomberg Philanthropies

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


Meet Asterie Mukangango. A couple of years ago, she was one of the many women farming small plots of coffee trees in Rwanda. Even though she was part of the global coffee market, she wasn’t aware of the complex web of relationships and elements that make up the value chain for a commodity as universal as coffee.


Photo of Asterie Mukangango, a Coffee Farmer in Rwanda: Women are the Economic Engine of Africa, Providing about 70% of Labor and 90% of Food Across the Continent.

Today, Asterie is an experienced farmer who deeply understands the process, challenges and barriers of exporting coffee. She’s the president of the Nyampinga women’s coffee cooperative in Southern Rwanda and a trainee of Bloomberg Philanthropies partner, the Relationship Coffee Institute — Sustainable Harvest Rwanda. Not only does Asterie understand the ins and outs of the coffee value chain but she also empowers other women in her community to become independent businesswomen who can provide for their families. Women like her are helping lead Africa towards a stronger economy.

What set Asterie apart? Opportunity. Without the opportunities afforded by programs such as Sustainable Harvest Rwanda, women smallholder farmers like Asterie would be unlikely to cultivate the entrepreneurial and business skills needed to grow their operations in the marketplace.

Opportunity can take many forms, from new partnerships and access to markets to vocational training programs and support for wealth-building. These elements are all important to ensuring that women are at the center of broader economic success in Africa.

That’s why at Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’re constantly working to unlock opportunities that help facilitate growth and progress in Africa, from our Women’s Economic Development program to our Maternal and Reproductive Health initiative.

And that’s why we’re deepening our investment with the Relationship Coffee Institute with a renewed $10 million gift. The Relationship Coffee Institute connects women farmers to resources and global markets so they can meet the international demand for specialty coffee. This new round of funding will allow the institute to reach an additional 20,000 women.

Join the conversation using #USAfricaBizForum and follow our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see updates from the U.S.-Africa Business Forum.