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Put Your Company at the Export Starting Gate

December 5, 2016

Country Commercial Guides Cover 97 Percent of World Economy Outside of the United States

By Curt Cultic, Senior Communications Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, International Trade Administration

So what’s new on the export horizon for your company? Perhaps it’s narrowing down your choice of a new market in which to export, finding the latest market intelligence, or looking for the best way to pursue market entry strategies. Whatever your needs, when conducting research on foreign markets, do what thousands of U.S. businesses do each year: start by checking out the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Country Commercial Guides (CCGs). Altogether, the CCGs cover markets representing 97 percent of global GDP outside of the United States.CCG

Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the U.S. Commercial Service, Arun Kumar today unveiled an expanded portfolio of U.S. Country Commercial Guides, designed to help U.S. companies doing business overseas. This year, 16 new countries, and a World Bank Commercial Guide have been added to the current CCG portfolio. Altogether, the more than 140 countries covered by the CCGs now represent 97 percent of global GDP outside of the United States.

“Made in America has a worldwide reputation,” said Kumar. “Greater access to cutting edge market intelligence is key to helping more U.S. exporters leverage new and emerging international opportunities.”

With the recent addition of 16 new countries, the CCGs now serve as a window into more than 140 foreign markets. Businesses will be able to gain insight into the latest intelligence on high-demand industry sectors – and also receive market-by-market economic overviews, selling techniques, investment climate considerations, trade financing options, and business travel advice and resources.

Since the CCGs are written by “boots-on-the-ground” U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals and U.S. State Department economic officers—all living and working in the country—you can be confident on getting accurate and up-to-date information on your market of interest.

Among the new country additions are the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Fiji, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Oman, Namibia, Qatar, Suriname, and Sri Lanka; as well as a number of sub-Saharan Africa countries: Chad, Sao Tome and Principe, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In addition, the new CCG portfolio also includes a World Bank Group Commercial Guide that provides insights into how World Bank-funded projects work, and how American firms, from prime contractors to subcontractors and suppliers, can identify and access opportunities in them.

By doing your homework first, you can avoid costly mistakes that could set your company back and cost valuable time and money. That’s critical in today’s competitive global economy where more than 95 percent of world consumers reside outside of U.S. borders.

On the website, businesses can also find out more about the global U.S. Commercial Service export assistance network of 108 offices across the United States, and in U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 75 countries.


North American Integration and Partnership

December 2, 2016

Stephen Sullivan is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of North America. Gina Bento is a Commerical Specialist in the Office of North America

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In a climate where many believe that companies are leaving the U.S. to produce goods where labor is less expensive, one Canadian company has shown how much it values U.S. labor and its critical North American supply chain.  Gildan Activewear Inc. is a manufacturer of T-shirts, fleece, sports shirts, socks, and underwear that invested and continues to invest in production based in the United States.

Founded in 1984, Gildan is headquartered in Montreal, Canada. With a number of different acquisitions over the past few years, Gildan has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into U.S.-based facilities as it pursues a decentralized manufacturing strategy, taking advantage of supply chains that allow a smoother flow of goods between suppliers, producers, and retailers.

Many fashion and apparel companies moved production to China upon its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Instead of following the trend, Gildan utilized the strength of high-standard bilateral and regional trade agreements closer to home. Since Gildan’s largest market is the U.S., having factories close to and within the U.S. means that orders can be fulfilled quicker than those companies that have to ship products from locations like China.

Since 2000, Gildan has invested more than $400 million in yarn spinning facilities in North Carolina and Georgia. Currently, Gildan has 2,600 full-time employees in the U.S., who earn an average of $32,270 (plus benefits) annually. By being savvy about import and export tariffs, and investments, Gildan is able to compete with T-shirts made in China, even though Gildan is paying more for labor costs.

This year, Gildan is acquiring American Apparel as it files for bankruptcy. The acquisition will save U.S. jobs and create revenue growth opportunities by leveraging Gildan’s extensive distribution networks to increase the brand’s penetration in the growing fashion basics segments of global markets. A dominant supporter of U.S. cotton production, Gildan purchases 25 percent of U.S. cotton.  With the imminent procurement of American Apparel, it will soon be possible for Gildan to manufacture a cotton product that is made entirely within the United States.

By choosing to invest in facilities within the North American supply chain, Gildan has saved jobs that would have been lost to company bankruptcy, and added more U.S. jobs by opening new factories. Upon completion of this new acquisition, Gildan will gain licenses to manufacture Under Armour®, Mossy Oak®, and New Balance® brands; all of which are American companies, increasing job opportunities for Americans.

Talk to your local specialist and receive in-depth advice on exporting, international sales, logistics, finance, and trade dispute resolutions.




U.S.-China Tourism Year 2016

December 1, 2016

Kelly Craighead is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism and Executive Director for the National Travel and Tourism Office. 

Not only an important trading partner, China is a critically important travel and tourism market for the United States. It plays an enormous role in our ability to reach the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy’s goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors annually to the United States by 2021.


Secretary Penny Pritzker

Travel from China to the United States continues to show double-digit growth, with 2.6 million Chinese travelers visiting the United States in 2015 – an 18 percent growth over the previous year.  Last year, these visitors spent a record $30.1 billion experiencing the United States, positioning China as the United States’ top spending market abroad in terms of travel and tourism exports.

According to the October 2016 National Travel and Tourism Office Forecast for International Travelers, more than 5 million Chinese travelers are expected to visit the United States by 2021 – which would make China the top overseas visitation market.

Recognizing the importance of travel and tourism between the two nations, President Obama and President Xi proclaimed 2016 as the U.S.-China Tourism Year (Tourism Year). The Tourism Year was initiated as an opportunity for both countries to review policies, processes and product offerings to ensure that Chinese visitors to the United States are met with an enjoyable travel experience.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker gave remarks at the U.S.-China Tourism Year closing event. “The Tourism Year was initiated as an opportunity for our countries to take a look at our policies, processes and product offerings to ensure that we can provide Chinese visitors with an enjoyable travel experience,” Pritzker explained

To make the United States a more welcoming destination for Chinese visitors, U.S. Travel and Tourism industry leaders used the Tourism Year to encourage the industry to become “prepared for China.”.

The Department of Commerce had three overarching goals for the Tourism Year:

  • To provide outreach to the entire nation about the importance of being prepared for Chinese visitors in order to be a competitive destination;
  • To successfully execute a small number of “signature events;” and
  • To work closely with industry and across the federal government to encourage efforts to create an enjoyable experience for Chinese visitors from beginning to end.

Signature events completed during the year included the February opening event hosted by Brand USA in Beijing; the 1,000 U.S. visitors to the Great Wall event in March; the China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit in September, held in Ningxia; and the closing event held in Washington, D.C. in November.

Here are just a couple of the achievements during this year:

  • Federal agencies developed new travel itineraries for destinations and activities that speak directly to Chinese interests, including thematic itineraries such as national parks and the great outdoors.
  • Commercial Service produced a China Travel Resource Guide for use by the U.S. travel and tourism industry interested in Chinese visitation.
  • The National Park Service is ensuring that Chinese visitors have access to in-language materials and web information at the most visited National Parks.
  • The State Department maintained progress on visa processing and kept wait times down to less than five days, despite the more than 50 percent increase in applications since the extension of visa validity.

Commerce will continue to work with industry to determine how the government can assist with market access issues in China, and we will continue to push for policy issues to be resolved, including: 1) ensuring there are ample air services to cater to the increasing demand for Chinese travel to the United States; 2) working to open the sale of outbound travel in China to U.S. companies; and 3) ensuring the ability of foreign global distribution services platforms to operate in China.

As our two populations more clearly understand the ties that bind our nations, this will create a multiplier effect for governmental and business ties, and maximize the potential of the most consequential relationship in the world. Deepening those people-to-people ties fundamentally requires travel and tourism, which is why the Tourism Year was so critical.


The APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules: Advancing Privacy and Digital Trade in Asia

November 29, 2016

By Andrew Flavin, Policy Advisor, Office of Digital Services Industries
Over the last year, just about everyone in the trade community heard about Privacy Shield, a mechanism for transferring personal information between the United States and Europe. But you might ask, “what about the rest of the world?”

Part of the answer lies in the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules system (CBPRs), a mechanism to raise standards for the protection of personal information while ensuring that data can flow freely between the 21 members of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), which together represent 54 percent of the world economy.

Increasing the number of countries and companies that participate in the system has been a top priority for Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry & Analysis Ted Dean. “The APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules system builds consumer, business and regulator trust in the data flows that businesses in the United States and across the Asia-Pacific region rely on by providing voluntary but enforceable standards for privacy protection,” said Assistant Secretary Dean.

The CBPRs are based on a set of principles that certified companies in the APEC region apply when they collect, process and transfer personal data such as birthdates and Social Security Numbers. Participation in the CBPR system is voluntary, but once an organization joins and certifies that it is following the APEC principles, its commitments are legally enforceable. Consumers and businesses in participating countries doing business with certified companies can be assured that these organizations are handling their data in compliance with the Rules’ high standards for privacy and security. For example, all CBPR-certified companies agree to notify consumers when their personal information is being collected and how it is being used, and of the choices consumers have to limit the use and sharing of that information.

In 2016, industry support for CBPRs has grown as companies look for ways to build global compliance systems and meet increasing demands for high-standard privacy protections from consumers and business partners. A recent joint statement from eight major business and information technology associations in the United States, Japan, and Latin America highlighted the importance of the system for businesses:

“By creating a certification system that bridges the privacy regimes of each participating economy in a cost effective and scalable way, the CBPRs allow participating companies to focus their time and resources on innovating, serving customers, and pursuing their business objectives.”

Since APEC Leaders first endorsed CBPRs in 2011, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Japan have joined the system, representing over 460 million Internet users. Further signaling confidence in the system as a tool to promote consumer privacy while ensuring that the digital economy can continue to flourish, Japan’s Personal Information Protection Commission announced that CBPR-certified companies will be able to transfer data in and out of Japan under new regulations expected to enter into force next year.

Support for CBPRs continued to build in November, when Chinese Taipei announced that it intends to conclude an internal review process to join the system in 2017. At the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Lima on November 20, the Leaders of all 21 member countries recognized the importance of the CBPR system in the APEC Leaders Declaration, and in his press conference, President Obama highlighted this important accomplishment, saying, “With regard to the digital economy, we endorsed rules to protect the privacy of personal information as it crosses borders.”

Shannon Coe, Chair of the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group, which oversees CBPRs, committed to building on this year’s accomplishments in 2017 and beyond. “We are encouraged by the advances the system has made in 2016 and will continue to work with our APEC partners to build on this progress in the future by raising awareness of the system’s benefits for countries, businesses and consumers.”

To learn more about the system, please visit


Fueling the Future: Taking the U.S. – Japan Relationship to the Troposphere and Beyond

November 23, 2016

By Keida Ackerman, Senior Investment Specialist, SelectUSA

I recently had the honor and great pleasure of participating in the Washington, D.C. portion of the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (OCCI) Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) Mission – part of a week-long effort to inspire an HFC conversation around ideas that not only have a positive economic impact, but also hold broader implications for our communities and our planet.

This mission – another milestone in a vibrant commercial relationship – was the result of more than a year’s work between Japan and the United States.  Thanks to the combined efforts of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and OCCI, the delegation joined a robust, multi-city program during the week of November 14, 2016.


Representatives from the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; and Nikken Lath Industrial try out the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

In Washington, D.C., participants toured the DOE-funded Brentwood HFC Fueling Station – the first of its kind in the region.  The group also joined briefings and discussions with the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the DOC’s SelectUSA program, and attended informational meetings with DOE’s Loan Programs Office, and Clean Energy Investment Center. The Osaka Prefectural Government shared its “H2 Vision” as part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s national 2050 Hydrogen Society Plan, while participating Japanese companies introduced cutting-edge technologies and discussed ways to share and enhance these products with their American counterparts.  What was most striking, however, is that the events was not merely an informational seminar – but a meaningful conversation to build momentum in diversifying Japanese investment beyond traditional industries to include new growth sectors like renewable energy.

Both Japan and the United States share a strong commitment to developing and commercializing clean energy technologies.  HFC technology offers a broad range of benefits for the environment, our nation’s energy security, and both the U.S. and Japanese economies.   This challenge – and opportunity – is also inspiring initiatives for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and joint investment in innovative solutions to capture and convert the power of hydrogen as a source of clean, abundant, reliable, and affordable energy.

Take Japanese auto manufacturers Toyota and Honda, both of which have significant investments in the United States, and already offer fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).  Sales of these cars have grown exponentially over the last four years, and the U.S. and Japan are closely partnering on technology and safety data sharing.  This has significant potential for mutual commercial benefits in the next wave of future clean energy generation – and it can be no coincidence that Toyota’s FCEV model – the Mirai – is named after he Japanese word for “future.”

Today, Japan is a vital investment and trading partner of the United States.  As the second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI), Japan supports over 840,000 jobs in the United States.  Japanese-owned firms operating in the United States export nearly 80 billion dollars’ worth of goods from our shores, and contribute billions of dollars to innovative research and development.

As the group departed for the West Coast, their next stop, I could not help reflecting on the fact that we had done so much to make this mission a reality.  And this was just one of a wide range of collaborative endeavors between the United States and Japan in the areas of trade, investment and innovation.  We are all eager to see what the future – the mirai – of HFC technology holds.


A growing partnership: Michigan Aerospace Manufacturing Association

November 21, 2016

Jason Lindesmith is a Communications Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service’s Great Lakes Network

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Earlier this month, the Acting Director of ITA’s Office of Strategic Partnerships shared how partnerships at ITA ultimately help American businesses while broadening the base of exporters around the country. I would like to offer one example of a budding partnership the U.S. Commercial Service has within in the aerospace industry – our work with the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturing Association (MAMA).

The aerospace industry has been a cornerstone of the U.S. economy for decades. In 2015, the U.S. aerospace industry contributed $144.1 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy. When companies up and down the aerospace supply chain are involved in exporting, it creates well-paying jobs all across the country.

ITA recently entered the second consecutive year as a strategic partner with MAMA. As with any productive partnership, working closely with MAMA allows our organizations to accomplish our shared goals while focusing on each other’s core strengths.

Finding shared value

When MAMA presents resources, tools, and synergies that help its members, they are likely to stay within the association’s fold. On the other side of the coin, the U.S. Commercial Service exists to help American firms, like MAMA members, export their products to ultimately strengthen the U.S. economy. As more U.S. companies find out about the U.S. Commercial Service, more firms can take advantage of our services to help them grow overseas.

We’ve accomplished these shared goals through a few key initiatives:

  • Infusing export education into MAMA events – By collaborating with MAMA on their upcoming events schedule, we are able to ensure exporting remains top of mind for their members. We make our trade specialists available to speak, meet with MAMA members, or attend their events so the agency has an ongoing presence.
  • Tapping into MAMA’s industry expertise – MAMA’s access to in-depth knowledge about the aerospace industry helps the U.S. Commercial Service, too. MAMA leadership or members now present at export-related events they may not have traditionally attended before our strategic partnership. This not only provides MAMA with increased visibility, but also allows a broader spectrum of Michigan companies to learn from the exporting experience of MAMA members.
  • Connecting our initiatives to increase exports – The partnership with MAMA is presenting new ways to connect aerospace companies with exporting resources. We are collaborating on an ExporTech program in 2017 that will be tailored specifically for aerospace companies. ExporTech helps companies enter or expand in global markets, where participants report an average increase in their international sales of $500,000–$700,000 after completing the program.As one final example, when organizers from the Singapore Air Show came to the Detroit area, we helped organize a roundtable for MAMA members to meet with them. Now, MAMA is planning to take a delegation to the Singapore show so its members can better understand the market there. At the Paris Air Show coming up, we’re encouraging MAMA members to take part by joining the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s space for 15 companies. Attending international shows is what often leads companies to first-hand knowledge of an international market, new sales channels, and ultimately export growth opportunities.

Our partnership with MAMA, or other industry associations around the country, helps the U.S. Commercial Service further our mission of broadening and deepening the U.S. exporter base.  It is just one example the many non-governmental partners we work with around the world. I look forward to sharing more results with MAMA in the future as we build on this positive momentum.

For more about MAMA, visit For more about export opportunities within the aerospace industry, check out our latest export resources guide.


Smart Cities, Collaboration & the Chicago Cubs: Highlights from Discover Global Markets

November 18, 2016

By Vinay Vijay Singh, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Global Markets and Michael Marangell, International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service.  In addition to heading the Discover Global Markets Business Forum Series, Vinay heads the International Trade Administration’s Smart City Task Force and recently published Smart Cities, Regions & Communities: Export Opportunities.  Michael was part of the team that designed and executed the recent DGM forum in Chicago.

It took 108 years for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series.  It was a fitting time for nearly 300 U.S. exporters from 27 states, industry experts, and international dignitaries to convene in Chicago (November 1-3) for Discover Global Markets: Building Smart Cities (DGM), the latest in the U.S. Commercial Services’ DGM series.  The global urbanization trend will require rapid deployment of smart city solutions in much less time than a century for citizens to integrate into cities with a high quality of living.  It is estimated that the world will need to create a few cities the size of Chicago every year for the next 15 years to accommodate citizens seeking their path to prosperity.


Discover Global Markets Team

The three-day event, began with a formal welcome from invited speaker Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago. During his remarks, Mayor Emanuel highlighted the city’s data-driven planning methods and the recently deployed Array of Things, a sensor network designed in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory to monitor pedestrian and vehicular traffic, noise, air quality, and temperature.

Attendees had the chance to hear thoughts on market opportunities from more than 60 industry leaders ranging from the Chief Technology Officers of Motorola Solutions and Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector to the Chief Executive Officers, Partners, and Founders of such innovative small businesses as AECOM, InfoBright, Skipping Stone, and RWL Water. Key sectors of focus included transportation, energy, and water infrastructure, as well as cyber security, the Internet of Things, energy efficient building designs, and wireless connectivity.

In addition to industry thought leaders, DGM played host to high-level international delegations. Leading the luncheon discussion on November 2nd, for example, was Leocadia Zak, Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, who was joined by Pravin Kumar, District Collector and Magistrate for the City of Visakhapatnam, and Hari Narayanan, Commissioner of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Council. Later that afternoon, Nguyen Than Phong, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City and members of his 19-person delegation presented the city’s developing technology and infrastructure plans. And, to kick-off the program on November 3rd, Singaporean Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri joined Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Ken Hyatt for a discussion on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S.-Singapore collaboration.

Also present at the event were U.S. Commercial Service experts from more than 21 markets, each one available to meet with U.S. companies while sharing thoughts on emerging Smart City, Internet of Things, and infrastructure opportunities in their markets. In total, 397 pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings were held between U.S. Commercial Service staff and U.S. exporters.

While 55% of the world’s population already lives in cities, that percentage will only increase as urbanization continues to accelerate. With 70% of global GDP coming from cities, urban planners are being pressured to invest in new technologies and infrastructure to ensure that their cities continue to provide economic security to constituents. Doing so requires ensuring the delivery of power and water, providing for sanitation, and reliable transportation for goods and people.

U.S. companies are uniquely positioned to capture business from these investments. The U.S. Commercial Service, a part of the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has resources in more than 100 cities around the U.S. and in more than 75 markets around the world to help them do so. More information can be found at