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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.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and East African Leaders Agree to Business Commitments in New York

September 21, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker hosted the East African Heads of State roundtable in New York City. Held alongside the United Nations General Assembly meeting and the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, the roundtable brought together East African leaders to discuss business development, investment opportunities, and economic growth in their respective countries. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya participated, along with multiple U.S. and African CEOs from companies doing business in the region.


U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum’s East Africa Heads of State Roundtable

The roundtable built on the achievements from the CEO regional integration roundtable Secretary Pritzker co-chaired with President Kagame in January 2016 during her trip to Africa with members of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA). Secretary Pritzker facilitated yesterday’s discussion aimed at accelerating regional integration through practical and actionable private sector driven proposals in the areas of travel and tourism, agribusiness technology, and infrastructure. The East African leaders agreed to support these proposals, which are critical steps to expanding the bilateral trade and investment relationships between their respective countries and with the United States.

The impact of the travel and tourism sector on the economic and social development of a country can be enormous. Given this, Secretary Pritzker facilitated an agreement among the East African leaders and the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State to launch an annual rotating U.S.-East Africa Travel and Tourism Dialogue to promote East Africa as a top global travel and tourism destination and support the growth of new partnership opportunities for U.S. and East African companies in this sector.

While East African countries are exploring many exciting travel and tourism initiatives, agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies, and the sector has not reached its full potential During today’s roundtable, the East African leaders agreed to launch the pilot in Kenya and scale it across the other East African countries.  At the same time, they recognized that a more holistic approach to agribusiness development is necessary. As a result, Secretary Pritzker tasked the U.S. Department of Commerce to work with partner agencies to develop a comprehensive and data driven approach to address production, productivity and value added challenges.

Similarly, interconnected infrastructure is essential to realizing East Africa’s economic potential, and would significantly improve regional integration and the growth of intra-regional and global trade. East African leaders and Secretary Pritzker agreed to work together to address challenges in building large-scale infrastructure, with the goal of convening an Infrastructure Summit with U.S. investors and companies across the infrastructure value chain focused on specific projects in the critical areas of electricity, transport and water infrastructure.

For more information on the three proposals, please see our fact sheet.


Recommendations from President’s Export Council Stress Passing of TPP

September 19, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker attended the final meeting of the Obama Administration’s President’s Export Council. Bringing together leaders in government, business, labor, and agriculture, the PEC has served as the principal national advisory committee on international trade and meets regularly to discuss new recommendations for resolving trade-related challenges among the business, industrial, agricultural, labor and government sectors.

Penny Pritzker

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Opening Remarks at the Final Obama Administration Meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC) at the White House.

In its final meeting with Secretary Pritzker, the PEC adopted key recommendations that emphasize the immediate need to work with Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and secure a quorum on the board of the Export-Import Bank.

In a letter to President Obama on behalf of the Council, PEC Chair and Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns stated that the private sector members of the PEC believe that the “single most important step the United States Government can take to promote increased U.S. exports and the continued recovery and growth of the U.S. economy is to secure passage of TPP this year.”

Citing increased market access abroad, comprehensive tariff elimination, enhanced IP protections, and strengthened labor and environmental protections, the PEC noted that TPP represents an important symbol of American commitment and leadership in the Asia Pacific, promoting geopolitical stability and offering positive direction for international relations.

In her remarks to the Council, Secretary Pritzker affirmed the Department of Commerce’s commitment to securing approval of the TPP, noting that it provides an opportunity to secure America’s influence in the Asia-Pacific, the fastest growing region in the world, and ensure U.S. businesses can compete on a level playing field.

In praising PEC members for their vocal support for TPP as it nears the finish line, Secretary Pritzker noted that with their help, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be the crowning achievement of this Administration’s trade agenda.

Secretary Pritzker closed by thanking Council members for their work to strengthen the American economy and their pivotal role in supporting the Obama administration’s accomplishments in international trade including the passage of Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance, creating a more transparent and efficient export control system, finalizing a new trade agreement with Korea, Colombia and Panama, and creating the 2016 National Export Strategy, which is set to publish later this month.


U.S. Businesses in Metro Areas are Tapping into Markets Abroad

September 14, 2016

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

Now more than ever, U.S. businesses know how important it is to take advantage of export opportunities around the world. From coast to coast, businesses are selling their world-class goods to the more than 95 percent of potential customers who live outside our borders. The 2015 Metropolitan Area Export Overview  is a clear indicator of this movement, as many cities have increased exports or even set records. And along with the nation’s largest metropolitan areas sending out more American goods, many smaller areas have also set trade records.


2015 Metro Exports

Now to the numbers: U.S. metropolitan area goods exports exceeded 1.3 trillion in 2015, and accounted for 89 percent of goods exported from the United States. There were 156 metro areas that exported more than $1 billion of goods to consumers around the world. There were 14 metro areas that exported more than $20 billion of goods in 2015.

Let’s look at a couple examples: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington; and El Paso Texas, both of which set records in 2015, have experienced impressive growth from 2009 to 2015. The Seattle area was ranked in the top five for 2015, while El Paso, Texas ranked in the top 20.

El Paso registered double-digit export growth in 2015, shipping $24 billion in goods abroad. El Paso has made impressive increases since 2009; this year representing a 22 percent increase from 2014, and a 217 percent increase from 2009. The city’s largest export goods categories included computers and electronic products; electrical equipment, appliances; and transportation equipment. Exceptionally, El Paso area sent 93.5 percent of its goods exported to markets where the United States has trade agreements enforced.

The Seattle area sent more than 25 percent of its goods exports to markets where the United States has trade agreements. Their exporting categories ranged from transportation equipment to computer & electronic products to fishing, hunting, and trapping goods.

It’s clear that both Seattle and El Paso, among the nation’s many metro areas, large and small, are making developments towards a more globalized market.

The Department of Commerce and the Obama Administration continue to focus on supporting U.S. jobs and raising wages. This includes efforts to sign high-standard agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Accessibility for U.S. exporters to the largest and most competitive markets has become top priority over the duration of the Administration. In fact, markets with Free Trade Agreements in force accounted for more than half of the total goods exports for 195 metropolitan areas.

For more information on the contributions of metro areas to U.S. exports, download your free copy of fact sheets for the top 50 exporting metro areas.


New Commerce Department Report Shows 63 U.S. Metropolitan Areas Set Goods Export Records in 2015

September 8, 2016

MalThe U.S. Department of Commerce today released a new report that shows U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1.3 trillion in merchandise exports in 2015, accounting for 89 percent of all goods exported from the United States. The 2015 Metropolitan Area Export Overview states that 156 metro areas exported more than $1 billion of goods to consumers around the globe.

“In metropolitan areas from Abilene, Texas, to York, Pa., exports continue to be a source of growth for the local economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Exports from 119 metropolitan areas increased last year, leading to new records for places like Cincinnati, Las Vegas, and Sacramento. The Department of Commerce continues to focus its services on helping firms sell ‘Made in America’ products to global consumers, which will support additional growth and good-paying jobs.”

The report includes the following highlights:

· The Houston-Woodland Hills-Sugarland metropolitan area was ranked No. 1 for the fourth consecutive year with total goods exports exceeding $97 billion.

· New York-Newark-Jersey City; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim; and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin round out the top five metropolitan areas for goods exports.

· The Houston, New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles metro areas each exceeded $50 billion of goods exports in 2015 for a fourth consecutive year.

· El Paso, Texas, was the largest metro area to register double-digit export growth both in 2015 and from 2009-2015, shipping $24.6 billion in goods abroad in 2015. This represented a 22 percent increase from 2014, and a 217 percent increase from 2009.

· Houston was the largest metropolitan area exporter of goods to potential Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) markets with goods exports totaling $36.2 billion in 2015.

· There were 14 metro areas that exported more than $20 billion of goods in 2015.

Increasing exports has been a top priority of the Obama administration, and the Commerce Department has been a consistent partner in trying to keep businesses competitive by promoting the benefits of free trade agreements (FTAs). The agreements are a critical tool in helping U.S. exporters access the more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States. Markets with FTAs in force accounted for more than half of total goods exports for 195 metropolitan areas.

Potential new trade agreement partners among the TPP markets were top destinations for 21 out of the top 50 metropolitan areas in 2015. TPP will level the playing field for American workers and U.S. businesses, by cutting more than 18,000 tariffs on Made-In-America products and instituting high standards in areas like labor and the environment that will make it easier for U.S. companies to sell their goods and services abroad.

For more information on the contributions of metro areas to U.S. exports, including fact sheets for the top 50 exporting metro areas, visit:


The GlobalTarget Program: The Proof is in the Partnerships

September 6, 2016

Susan Whitney is Director of the U.S. Commercial Service Office in Cleveland, Ohio.This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy

If you often have the feeling that you or your company is figuring out exporting entirely on your own, I’m going to let you in on a little-known fact: a collection of partners are waiting to help your business succeed overseas. You just have to find them.

In Northeast Ohio, we have gathered this group of peers, experts, and service providers together in a nine-month export training program called GlobalTarget. The program is for companies between $2 million and $50 million in sales who are poised to take the next step of growing their business internationally.

GlobalTarget is different from most other export training programs because of how it capitalizes on each partner’s strength so they can delivery value to the participant. The program unleashes a network of the region’s best and most experienced international business professionals so each GlobalTarget participant can grow overseas – that’s what makes partnerships so powerful.

Over ten years ago, I helped form Global Target around the idea that one company, stakeholder group, or service provider doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to international growth. Therefore, GlobalTarget strives to focus these partners toward a singular goal: help Northeast Ohio companies grow in international markets.

Here’s a look at how the partners come together to make GlobalTarget a success:

  • Federal (U.S. Commercial Service) – By offering participants export counseling and their Gold Key matchmaking service, GlobalTarget companies can connect to a worldwide network of trade professionals in over 70 countries.  The Gold Key matchmaking service allows the participants to implement what they have learned and to turn training into sales.
  • State (Ohio Development Services Agency) – By offering export counseling and grant funds to help cover a participating company’s cost, more firms are able to participate in GlobalTarget.
  • Academia (Cleveland State University) – Through presentations from industry experts and faculty, participants learn the ins and outs of exporting from every angle. Cleveland State students also research international markets and create a report for each participant.
  • Private sector (FedEx) – By covering the cost of several international offerings from the U.S. Commercial Service, GlobalTarget participants are able to customize the program’s services to fit their needs.
  • Ohio’s exporting community – By matching up each GlobalTarget participant with an experienced exporter, each company learns from their mentor’s experience to shorten their learning curve.

One alumnus of GlobalTarget said the most valuable part of the program is being matched up with an “exporting mentor”. Mentors are another Ohio company with deep experience taking their business global. Here’s what Jeff Sponseller, VP of Sales for Miller Weldmaster, said about their mentorship experience:

“When you to go through the day to day of figuring out exporting on your own, at times you catch yourself saying ‘this is a lot harder than it should be’. Through GlobalTarget, we realized exporters around the region have many of the same questions – regardless of their industry.

“We got to ask other exporters ‘How to you do handle this or that situation?’, which positioned our company to benefit from our mentor’s experience.”

The mentorship aspect of the GlobalTarget adds value for two reasons. First, mentoring builds a sense of community among the region’s exporters – it allows for positive experiences like Miller Weldmaster’s. Second, engaging experienced exporters as mentors builds on the central idea of what makes GlobalTarget so successful – capitalizing on each partner’s strength to deliver maximum value to Ohio companies.

Finally, what happens to companies that go through GlobalTarget? What are the results?

On average, over 70 percent of GlobalTarget alumni that have used the Commercial Service Gold Key matchmaking service have success in a foreign market within their first year of completing the program. In the case of Miller Weldmaster, they expanded into several new markets through the Commercial Service Gold Key matchmaking service including Chile, Russia, and Korea, with plans to use the Gold Key Matchmaking service in other countries in the coming months.

If you are a Northeast Ohio company weighing whether you should join this year’s GlobalTarget group, the proof of the program’s success is in the partnerships. GlobalTarget utilizes the unique strengths of our area’s exporting experts who have a vested interest in your success.

Visit the GlobalTarget website to learn more about the program.


Brazil: A Brilliant Opportunity for U.S. Exporters

August 31, 2016

Judy Lao is a Trade Facilitation Officer for Argentina, Brazil & Central America in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Western Hemisphere. This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy

Brazil implements ATA Carnet, allowing duty-free imports of certain goods for temporary entry

Recently showcased on the international stage, Brazil is not only a worldwide cultural champion, but it’s also a gold-medal trading partner for the United States. U.S. goods exported to Brazil totaled $31.2 billion in 2015, and U.S. services exported totaled $28 billion in 2014 – making Brazil the United States’ tenth-largest global trading partner last year.


Corcovado mountains in Brazil

Working with the private sector and the Brazilian government through the U.S.-Brazil Commercial Dialogue, the International Trade Administration (ITA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce has encouraged Brazil to adopt and implement the temporary entry program known as ATA Carnet.

ATA Carnets are international customs documents that allow certain goods to temporarily enter signatory countries tax- and duty-free. Also known as “Merchandise Passports,” Carnets allow for temporary duty-free imports of goods generally qualified for use in trade shows or as commercial samples and professional equipment. After ten years of advocating for U.S. industry, the U.S. Department Commerce welcomed the news that on June 28 of this year that Brazil began accepting ATA Carnets for professional equipment and items used at trade shows.

Prior to Brazil’s acceptance of ATA Carnet, the goods and supplies that U.S. companies needed to promote products or carry out services in Brazil in these circumstances could have been subject to customs duties and relevant taxes despite their eventual return to the United States. Brazil’s acceptance of the ATA Carnet eliminates the customs duty and relevant taxes, saving U.S. companies money and increasing business potential.

The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) administers the ATA Carnet system in the United States, serving as the national guaranteeing association, issuing nearly 20,000 Carnets per year.  The National Confederation of Industry (CNI) serves the same function in Brazil. U.S. and Brazilian customs authorities process the Carnets in their respective countries.

“This is fantastic news,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Brazil is one of America’s largest trade partners, and we are delighted to welcome Brazil as the newest member of the ATA Carnet family. We look forward to working with CNI as our counterpart national guaranteeing association in Brazil to further expand trade between our countries.”

To learn more about the ATA Carnet and its potential business benefits visit the trade services section of USCIB’s website at The ITA works to strengthen the international competitiveness of U.S. industry, promoting trade and investment, and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. To learn more about how the International Trade Administration’s services can support U.S. exports visit our website at