Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category


The Untold Story About the U.S.-Mexico Border

September 28, 2012

Michael Camuñez is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Violence. Narco-trafficking. Illegal Immigration. A place of great insecurity. Listen to the national media and these are the images they would have you believe define and characterize the U.S.-Mexico Border. It’s true, Mexico is confronting serious security challenges and is working hard to tackle them, making progress each day in part with the assistance of the United States. But the benefits derived from scale and magnitude of our economic partnership with Mexico—still one of the best performing and fastest growing economies in the G20 and OECD—literally dwarf those challenges. And that’s a story that’s well worth remembering.

Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance Michael Camuñez delivers remarks during "Realizing the Economic Strength of Our 21st Century Border: Trade, Education, and Jobs"

Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance Michael Camuñez delivers remarks during “Realizing the Economic Strength of Our 21st Century Border: Trade, Education, and Jobs” (Photo Tim Trumble)

That’s why earlier this week in Tempe, Arizona, I convened and, together with Arizona State University’s Center for Trans-border Studies, co-hosted a bi-national conference focused on the commercial importance of the border region. The conference, entitled “Realizing the Economic Strength of Our 21st Century Border: Trade, Education, and Jobs,” brought together a diverse and distinguished group of leaders from academia, the private and public sector leaders, and members of civil society from throughout the border region. Our goal was two-fold: to identify and share strategies that will promote economic growth and job creation through increased trade; and to raise awareness and build consensus concerning the economic contribution of the border region to the U.S. and Mexican economies. In short, the conference was about changing the narrative about the U.S.-Mexico border by telling the full story about how and why the border region is a key driver of our global competitiveness and shared prosperity. As evidenced in a recent Arizona Republic editorial highlighting the conference, our efforts are already paying off.

I’ve previously written extensively about how the border region is vital to the U.S.-Mexico commercial relationship, which is one of the most dynamic economic partnerships in the world. In 2011, two way trade in goods and services between the U.S. and Mexico exceeded a staggering half trillion dollars. U.S. exports to Mexico totaled close to $200 billion, exceeding our exports to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined! According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, approximately 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with our southern neighbor. Six million jobs!

And what happens on the border doesn’t solely affect border towns and border states. More than 20 U.S. states count Mexico as their first or second largest export market, and 28 states did more than $1 billion in trade with Mexico in 2011.

Manufacturers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and throughout America depend on integrated U.S.-Mexico supply chains to bring components, supplies and finished goods back and forth across the border every day, sustaining millions of jobs in factories around the country. And this doesn’t even get to the nearly 13.5 million Mexican tourists who traveled to the U.S. in 2011 and spent $9.2 billion supporting the U.S. economy.

Given the importance of this powerful relationship, the Obama Administration launched the Border Export Strategy to highlight the significance of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship and, more specifically, the vibrant, diverse, and talented communities that make up the border region. This week’s conference, which was attended by more than 250 leaders from both countries, is a key element of that strategy, which in turn supports the President’s National Export Initiative, the aim of which is to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

The conference also advanced the 2010 joint declaration by Presidents Obama and Calderon on 21st Century Border Management, which is designed to enhance economic competitiveness while augmenting our nation’s security and public safety by supporting a bilateral border master plan process for infrastructure projects in order to increase capacity; expand trusted traveler and shipper programs; and explore opportunities for pre-clearance, pre-inspection, and pre-screening processes for commercial goods and travelers.

The conference agenda was packed with substantive discussions and industry-focused breakout panels; it also included important fora where U.S. and Mexican border mayors, members of congress, governors and industry leaders came together to talk about how the border economy is driving growth throughout the region. As co-host, I delivered a keynote address and helped facilitate a discussion concerning the Obama Administration’s 21st Century Border Management Initiative with counterparts from Mexico, Customs and Border Patrol, and the State Department. We also had a chance to hear from representatives of Mexican President-Elect Peña-Nieto, who shared the incoming administration’s vision for the region.

My primary message at the conference was to convey that President Obama and his administration understand the value of border trade and the contributions that border communities make each and every day to our national wellbeing. I also emphasized that the United States and Mexico, together with Canada to the north, comprise one of the most competitive regional platforms in the world. With our open borders, low tariffs, strong protections for intellectual property, low energy costs, integrated supply chains, and, most importantly, our skilled work force, our nations are working cooperatively to bring jobs back from remote shores, which is one reason why, for the first time in a decade, U.S. manufacturing job growth is again on the rise. The border truly is a source of strength for both countries, and it is a region that merits investment, support and serious attention from Washington. I’m proud that the Obama Administration is telling that story.


Promoting the RV Lifestyle in China: Recreation Vehicle Industry Association Receives Cooperator Award

September 12, 2012

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

Charlie Rast is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Consumer Goods Industries within the Manufacturing and Services division of the International Trade Administration.

Returning from a recent trip to Shanghai and Beijing, representatives of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) had great things to say about the potential for U.S. RV manufacturers in the growth and development in the Chinese RV industry. RVIA’s trip to China June 19 to July 1 was the association’s fourth trade mission to the country.

The U.S. RV industry believes there is great potential for RVs in China. RVs and RV camping are becoming increasingly popular in the country, and U.S. exports of RVs to China are growing. In 2011, U.S. RV exports to China exceeded $24 million, an increase of 78 percent since 2009. China is the third largest market of U.S. RV exports, following Canada and Mexico.

An important issue towards advancing the growth of the RV industry in China is the development of Chinese standards that are compatible with U.S. standards. Among the key achievements during its recent trip was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between RVIA and the China Automotive Technology and Resource Center (CATARC) to work together on RV standards issues.

RVIA President Richard Coon signs CATARC agreement. (Photo RVIA)

RVIA President Richard Coon signs CATARC agreement. (Photo RVIA)

“This Memorandum of Understanding with CATARC is a significant step toward developing a more formal RV standard for China that is harmonized with our North American standards, which would be a boost to U.S. RV manufacturers and suppliers interested in doing business in the Chinese RV market” RVIA President Richard Coon said in a recent press release.

Among the other organizations and agencies RVIA met with during the trip included the China Ministry of Transportation, to discuss road use regulations affecting RVs, and the Shanghai Tourism Administration to talk about RV and campground projects.

RVIA also met with officials from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers to discuss the association’s role on a new RV committee formed by the organization, as well as China Travel Services to talk about how the company can work with RVIA and its members.

RVIA also met with officials and staff from the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, who are assisting U.S. industry’s efforts in the country.

In addition to RVIA’s achievements during the recent trip, ITA recently announced that the association has been selected to receive a Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) award from ITA for its programs and initiatives in China, as well as Japan. The RVIA initiative financial award is $300,000 over a three year period.

Under the award, RVIA will work with ITA to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Establish an office in Beijing;
  • Pursue adoption of RV and campground industry standards compatible with U.S. standards;
  • Pursue the inclusion of RV definitions in the China motor vehicle code and removal of regulatory obstacles;
  • Pursue adoption of China Compulsory Certification (CCC) requirements that take into account the unique issues faced by RV manufacturers;
  • Pursue reduction of RV import duties and tariffs;
    Establish a website in Chinese and use social media and trade shows to promote RVing in China with an emphasis on U. S. products;
  • Serve as a resource for growing the RV market and campground development in China;
  • Demonstrate how to operate an RV and tow a trailer; and
  • Pursue opportunities to provide Japan with RVs for the country’s post-disaster assistance efforts.

Through this collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the RVIA, more U.S. made recreation vehicles will find their way to the highways and byways of China.

(This article was edited on May 8, 2013 to correct the title of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.)


Doing Our Part to Help Strengthen the U.S.-Poland Relationship

June 7, 2012

Adam S. Wilczewski serves as the Chief of Staff of the International Trade Administration.

In May 2011, President Obama called for a U.S.-Poland Economic Summit to bolster a stronger economic relationship with one of Europe’s fastest growing economies…Poland.

This Central European country— an important commercial partner for the United States—was the only one to grow economically during the Great Recession. And, this has benefited the United States. In 2011, U.S.-Poland bilateral trade was $7.5 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion (or 25 percent) from the previous year; in addition, U.S. exports in 2011 accounted for $3.1 billion, and it’s an important partner for U.S. investment.

Jay Burgess (second from right) recieves the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland with Adam Wilczewski (left), Vice Minister of State for the Ministry of the Economy Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik, and Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez.

Jay Burgess (second from right) recieves the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland with Adam Wilczewski (left), Vice Minister of State for the Ministry of the Economy Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik, and Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez.

While this economic activity provides for a strong foundation for continued growth, more must be done. This is why in June 2012, the Department of Commerce will answer the President’s call for action, and host the first-ever U.S.-Poland Business Summit. Over the last year, the International Trade Administration (ITA)  has been hard at work to prepare for this historic summit.

Specifically, this work would not have come so far without the efforts of Jay Burgess, Director for the Central & Eastern Europe Division in the Market Access & Compliance division of ITA. In fact, Jay actively has worked to develop and strengthen U.S.–Polish economic and commercial ties for the past 30 years. He’s worked on significant Departmental programs that helped Poland emerge as a European economic power in the post-Communist era. In particular, Jay’s efforts included helping to create, establish, and implement the U.S.-Poland Economic and Commercial Dialogue (ECD) in 2002. Both governments regard the ECD as central to the close bilateral relationship between our two countries, and it will be continued at the Summit in June.

Personally, I want to thank Jay for his service. This year, he was particularly helpful to me in my endeavors to help increase exports to and investment from Poland. As a lead-up to the Summit this summer, ITA led the first-ever Education Trade Mission to Poland to promote increased collaboration and student exchange among U.S. and Polish universities. In addition, I attended an event in Chicago in May focused on enhancing U.S.-Polish collaboration in small business initiatives with Polish-American Chambers of Commerce from across the country. Jay’s guidance was critical, and he has become someone I am proud to call a colleague and friend.

The growing relationship between the U.S. and Poland can be exemplified by the honor that was given to Jay Burgess last night. Because of his years of support and leadership, the Polish Government elected to award Jay Burgess the prestigious Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. The order, which comes with the rank of Officer’s Cross, is awarded to foreigners or Polish residents abroad who have rendered great service to relations between Poland and other countries and who have made outstanding contributions to international cooperation.

Poland’s Ambassador to the United States, Robert Kupiecki, and the Polish Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of the Economy, Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik, presented the award to Mr. Burgess at an event held in his honor at the Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. Our boss, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco Sánchez, was present and praised Jay for his service and his leadership at the Department of Commerce.

Jay’s work has certainly strengthened economic and commercial ties between the two nations, and I think I speak for all us here at ITA when I say ‘thank you – and keep up the great work!’


The Asia-Pacific: Important for America’s Economic Future

April 3, 2012

Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

I’ve spent a lot of time as Under Secretary for International Trade focused on the Asia-Pacific region — and for good reason.

As President Barack Obama has said, “no market is more important to our economic future than the Asia-Pacific.”

He’s right.

The market represents 55 percent of global GDP and 44 percent of world trade.  It’s also the fastest-growing region in the world, presenting incredible opportunities for U.S. businesses to sell more products that are “Made in America.”

Case in point: the recent deal in which Lion Air, an Indonesian airline, ordered 230 Boeing airplanes valued at more than $22 billion.  It’s the largest commercial aircraft order in the history of the company, and its impact goes way beyond the numbers.

Under Secretary Sanchez in Tokyo, Japan March 2 as a keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) U.S.-Asia Business Summit.

Under Secretary Sanchez in Tokyo, Japan March 2 as a keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) U.S.-Asia Business Summit.

This deal benefits all those who make and transport the parts that make up these aircraft. It helps the workers who assemble the planes.  In short, it supports good-paying American jobs and benefits entire communities.

There is great potential for more U.S. businesses — both large and small — to have a similar impact, and I am determined to help fulfill this promise.  During my tenure, I’ve probably spent more of my time abroad in the Asia-Pacific than any other area of the world.

For example, last year, I led the largest-ever higher-education mission to Indonesia.  I also visited Hong Kong with 19 American businesses on a biotech mission.  Our work in this region is a priority for us, and good things are happening.

U.S. goods exports to the broader Asia-Pacific totaled nearly $900 billion in 2011, a 15 percent increase from 2010.  This is equal to 60 percent of total U.S. goods exports to the world.

These are positive signs, and as you’ll read in this International Trade Update, the Obama Administration is committed to building on this progress by opening new doors of opportunity for U.S. businesses.

One way is through policy.  We are working to advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the most ambitious trade agreements ever crafted.  It holds great potential for U.S. businesses to sell their products in a region with nearly three billion consumers, and we continue to talk with our TPP partners with the goal of finalizing the terms.

Another important policy milestone took place on March 15th, when the U.S. – Korea Trade Agreement took effect.  I highlighted the importance of this development in publications like The Tampa Tribune.  It will provide big benefits for U.S. businesses.

Before, in a variety of sectors, U.S. companies had to pay a tariff rate to sell their goods and services in Korea.  Now, many of these same companies can enter the market duty-free.   Almost 80 percent of American exports of industrial products to Korea will enter without getting taxed.  Estimates are that this will lead to roughly $11 billion in additional U.S. exports.  The trade agreement will also provide new opportunities in the 12th-largest economy in the world.

The International Trade Administration is committed to linking U.S. businesses with these and other opportunities throughout the Asia-Pacific.

Earlier this month, I was in Japan doing just this by advancing commercial relations.  I gave a keynote address to the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, a group of 27 member-chambers from across the region.

These organizations are on the frontlines, working on the ground to help U.S. businesses succeed in a variety of markets.  I pledged to work with them to “ensure that the next chapter in the U.S. – Asia story is better than any we’ve ever had, bringing new opportunities and prosperity to people across this region and back home.”

I also participated in the Asia-Pacific Business Outlook Conference, where U.S. businesses met with 16 of our Foreign Commercial Officers from the area to explore new possibilities for doing business abroad.  It was a tremendous success and will go a long way in helping American companies succeed in the Asia-Pacific.

There is an old Chinese proverb: “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

Despite the nearly 4 million private-sector American jobs created in the past 24 months, our nation can’t stand still. We can’t be satisfied.

Accordingly, ITA is committed to taking steps forward — both large and small — in the Asia-Pacific that will bring a more prosperous future for American workers, businesses and the overall economy.


China’s Economy Still Holds Good Opportunities for U.S. Firms

March 27, 2012

This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the information available to participants in the 2012 Asia Pacific Business Outlook (APBO)

William Zarit is the Minister for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Beijing, China.

I’m excited to be back again at the Asia Pacific Business Outlook. Yesterday, I discussed China’s country outlook. With the February visit of Chinese Vice President and heir apparent Xi Jinping, the state of U.S.-China relations is receiving a lot of attention from both countries as we continue to expand commercial activity. The success from the 22nd plenary meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) last November will help boost U.S. exports and jobs, albeit incrementally.

At the JCCT, the Chinese eliminated some protectionist policies and made progress toward better enforcement of intellectual property rights in China.

Best Prospects

A number of obstacles still exist for U.S. firms doing business in China, including protectionism; high labor costs; duplicative, costly and slow certifications and approvals; a frequently unclear regulatory environment; and poor IPR enforcement.  With China’s GDP growth projected to be at or above 7.5 percent through 2013, there is still potential for U.S. exports in many sectors, including:

  • clean energy
  • green building
  • renewable energy
  • water and water pollution treatment systems
  • travel and tourism
  • medical devices and healthcare
  • railroads and metro transit
  • aviation
  • information and communications technology
  • marine industries
  • agriculture; and
  • Chinese outbound foreign direct investment

Making Your Move in the China Market

U.S. companies need to take advantage of key trends in China such as massive urbanization, a growing middle class, U.S. export growth to 2nd and 3rd tier cities, and Chinese disposable income predicted to double in eight years.  Also, almost 50 percent of the Chinese population is forecast to belong to the middle class by 2020.

Don’t Go It Alone in China – Visit the Commercial Service

The Commercial section in the Embassy is part of a global network of trade professionals dedicated to U.S. commercial interests worldwide.  We connect U.S. business to opportunities in China. With almost 100 staff in five offices in China:  Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Shenyang, we also serve U.S. business in 14 second tier cities, working in partnership with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

We can help in many ways, including:

  • finding distributors and agents for U.S. exports;
  • screening potential Chinese agents, distributors, and partners;
  • promoting your firm to target markets;
  • supporting multi-city U.S. government-led trade missions and trade shows;
  • and organizing and leading Chinese buying delegations to the U.S.

Go to to learn more about us and what we can do for your company in China.


Joint Statement Released at Major Privacy Conference Highlights Importance of U.S.-European Union (EU) Safe Harbor Framework

March 20, 2012

Krysten Jenci is the Team Leader for Electronic Commerce in the Manufacturing and Services unit of the International Trade Administration.  Her Team administers the U.S.-European Union and U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Frameworks.

At this week’s EU Conference on Privacy and Protection of Personal Data held in Washington, D.C., Secretary Bryson and EU Commission Vice President  Reding released a joint statement on privacy which highlights the importance of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework.

The statement notes that “In line with the objectives of increasing trade and regulatory cooperation outlined by our leaders at the U.S.-EU Summit, the United States and the European Union reaffirm their respective commitments to the U.S.-Safe Harbor Framework…Since its inception, over 3,000 companies have self-certified to the Framework to demonstrate their commitment to privacy protection and to facilitate transatlantic trade…The EU and the United States remain dedicated to the operation of the Safe Harbor Framework – as well as to our continued cooperation with the Commission to address issues as they arise – as a means to allow companies to transfer data from the EU to the United States, and as a tool to promote transatlantic trade and economic growth”.

Since significant changes to the EU Data Protection Framework were announced in January 2012, many U.S. companies have asked about the status of the Framework.  This statement gives companies very useful reassurance that the program will continue as a tool to promote transatlantic trade and economic growth.

The Department’s International Trade Administration administers the Safe Harbor program.  The program allows U.S. companies to meet the requirements of the EU Data Protection Directive.  It allows cross border data flows to continue in a way that places a high value on the protection of personal data without unduly hindering trade and economic growth.  This is important because it facilitates uninterrupted transfers of personal information from the EU to the United States that support billions in trade.

The program has been a very important critical tool for thousands of companies who rely on it to help protect personal information while also facilitating international trade.  More than 60% of the companies in Safe Harbor are small and medium-sized enterprises, and Safe Harbor gives them an effective and efficient means to meet the requirements of the EU’s Data Protection Directive.

We strongly believe the Framework supports the goals of the President’s National Export Initiative by reducing regulatory barriers to trade.  This program also reinforces the trade and regulatory cooperation objectives noted by our leaders at the November 28, 2011, U.S.-EU Summit.

Finally, the program was cited in the Administration’s February 23 Privacy Blueprint, Safe Harbor is highlighted as an early example of interoperability that has had a meaningful impact on transatlantic data flows.  Safe Harbor created a framework for interoperability that has bridged the differences between our regulatory regimes.

We are so pleased that Secretary Bryson and Vice President Reding took advantage of this important conference to highlight our shared privacy objectives and to underscore the importance of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework.


Top 25 Metro Areas Increase Exports by 21 Percent

March 7, 2012

Elizabeth Clark is a Senior Economist in the Office of Industry Analysis within the International Trade Administration

In 2010, merchandise trade exports to the world for the 377 (only 369 areas are available due to Federal disclosure regulations) U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) totaled $1.13 trillion, with merchandise exports from non-metropolitan “rural” areas totaling an additional $151.5 billion. Since the launch of the President’s National Export Initiative, merchandise exports from MSAs have increased 15.4 percent over the 2009 U.S. export figure of $975.7 billion.Top 25 metropolitan export markets for 2010

Although the value of U.S. exports is concentrated in the top metropolitan areas, exporting is an important economic driver in nearly every metropolitan area. In 2010, more than one-third of U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1 billion in merchandise to the world. Eight of these metropolitan areas exported merchandise worth more than $25 billion with a further 19 metropolitan areas exporting more than $10 billion.

Among the top 25 MSA exporters, merchandise exports increased 21 percent between 2009 and 2010. This growth rate was consistent across the three largest metropolitan area exporters: New York up 22 percent, Houston up 22 percent and Los Angeles up 21 percent.

Fourth-ranked Detroit leads metro areas in terms of growth, with 55 percent due mostly to the substantial recovery of the auto industry, as Detroit’s exports of transportation equipment grew 62 percent in 2010 to reach nearly $29 billion.

Trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA-DR have had a positive impact on exports from MSAs. While agreements with even the smallest countries may have only a marginal impact at the national level, these agreements can have a large impact at the local level when a metro area has geographic proximity and economic or cultural ties to a particular country or region.

For example, the Central American Free Trade Agreement or CAFTA-DR is a region where the U.S. has an agreement and close trading relationship with six countries, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. U.S. merchandise trade with these six countries totaled only $24.3 billion in 2010, less than 2 percent of total U.S. merchandise trade. However, the CAFTA-DR markets represented a significant share of exports for a number of MSAs. The CAFTA-DR markets represented more than 5 percent of exports for 20 MSAs with these areas concentrated in the Southeast United States. The largest of these areas was Miami, Florida, where exports to the CAFTA-DR region totaled $3.8 billion, representing 11 percent of Miami’s exports to the world. Miami actually exports more to the six nations of the CAFTA region than it exports to our NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico combined.

Trade agreements will be increasingly important to small U.S. metropolitan area as the latest agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama enter into force. Agreements like these will further help to strengthen the export potential for U.S. firms.

Find more information on MSA exports, including data and fact sheets for the top 50 exporting MSAs in 2010 is available on the Office of Industry Analysis home page.


New Foreign Trade Zone Regulations Help U.S. Firms Compete

March 6, 2012

Andrew McGilvray is the staff director for the Foreign-Trade Zones Board, an interagency board chaired by the Commerce Department. He has been with the International Trade Administration since 1988.

On February 17, the White House and the International Trade Administration announced new regulations for the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) program. This first overhaul of FTZ procedures in more than 20 years is designed to enable the program to keep pace with businesses and their decision-making processes.

Since use of a FTZ can reduce the cost of U.S. operations, fast and simple access to the program can encourage investment in U.S. facilities. The new procedures accelerate and simplify the application procedures, and promise to further facilitate U.S. companies’ use of the program to help them compete internationally.

FTZs are designated locations in the United States where companies can use special customs procedures that help encourage U.S. activity and value added – in competition with foreign alternatives – by allowing delayed or reduced duty payments on foreign merchandise, as well as other savings. Several thousand companies already use the FTZ program, helping to support more than 300,000 jobs and about $30 billion in exports each year.

For example, the Mercury Marine factory in Wisconsin operates under FTZ procedures, employing more than 2,400 American workers and exporting about $125 million in finished marine engines each year.

The new regulations’ procedures will now make it much quicker and simpler for individual companies to access the FTZ program – like Mercury Marine did starting in 1999. Dramatically reducing costs and timeframes for access is likely to make the FTZ program an even more crucial tool for U.S. companies and workers to compete in the global marketplace.

To find a FTZ in your state, visit the Foreign Trade Zone Board web site.


The National Export Initiative: Making Progress and Striving for More

March 6, 2012

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

Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary for International Trade

This month marks the second anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI).  Launched in 2010, its goal is to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.  In real terms, that means doubling our exports from $1.5 trillion at the end of 2009 to $3.1 trillion at the end of 2014.

As we reach this milestone, I’m proud to report that to date the NEI has been a resounding success.

U.S. exports have grown 34 percent since the President implemented the initiative.  Last year, U.S. goods and services exports reached a record $2.1 trillion.  As a result of these successes, we are making progress toward the President’s goal.

Why is this important?

Under Secretary Sanchez tours the Larsen & Toubro engineering facility in Chennai

Under Secretary Sanchez tours the Larsen & Toubro engineering facility in Chennai (Photo Larsen & Toubro Limited)

Because, even as the nation’s economic recovery accelerates, there is still a lot of work to be done.  Too many Americans are still looking for work.  Too many businesses find themselves with too few opportunities.

Exporting addresses these challenges, providing companies with new opportunities to sell their goods abroad, which is where more than 9 out of 10 of the world’s potential customers live.  When a business reaches more customers, it can lead to more sales, more revenues and ultimately more jobs.

The overall economic impact of exports has been tremendous; they comprised nearly 14 percent of GDP in 2011 — yet another record.

Naturally, as the Under Secretary of International Trade, I’m pleased with this success.  Certainly, I’m proud of the contributions that the International Trade Administration (ITA) — particularly it’s talented staff — has made to this progress.

For example, last year alone, ITA helped 5,600 American companies export for the first time. This is great news. But I want to be clear: We are not satisfied.

With new economic challenges emerging in pockets throughout the world, in Europe for example, we realize that we have to work harder to keep the momentum of the NEI going.

That’s why we continue to push for progress in a number of ways.  Here are four specific areas of focus:

1. Policy: The United States – Korean Trade Agreement will take effect later this month.  It is estimated to create roughly 70,000 jobs and add billions to the U.S. GDP.  The agreement will create new opportunities for U.S. companies in the world’s 12th largest economy, which is sure to boost exports and enhance the nation’s competitiveness.

We look forward to supporting our colleagues at the Office of the United States Trade Representative to resolve the outstanding issues involved with the free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia.

2. Promotion: We continue to actively link U.S. companies with promising growth markets and industries around the world.  For instance, as you’ll read about in this edition of International Trade Update, I just returned from India where I accompanied twelve U.S. companies on the first-ever ports and maritime trade mission.

Recently, the Indian Government announced infrastructure investments of nearly $100 billion in the port and shipping sectors.  U.S. companies offer cutting-edge products and services that would be a valuable asset to this development.  Recognizing this enormous opportunity, I urged all sides to come together and create mutually beneficial partnerships. I’ll continue to do that in different industries and markets all over the world.

3. Enforcement: We’ll continue to fight to level the playing-field for American firms seeking to do business overseas.  One exciting new effort to do this is President Obama’s Interagency Trade Enforcement Center. Working with colleagues from across the U.S. government, we will take unprecedented steps to remove the barriers to free and fair trade.  American businesses deserve a fair chance to compete.  We’ll keep working to give them that chance.

4. Partnerships: With efforts like the New Market Exporter Initiative and our work with the Brookings Institution, we will continue to leverage our partnerships to maximize opportunities.  In fact, on March 12, the actual date the NEI was launched, I will be at the Port of Baltimore celebrating their great contributions to U.S. exports.

With these and other measures, all of us at ITA remain focused on ensuring that the future of the National Export Initiative is as successful as the past — if not more so. Additional stories, successes and achievements will be detailed in the special NEI anniversary edition of the International Trade Update due out later this month.

We look forward to working with all our stakeholders to increase U.S. exports and expand opportunities for Americans across the country.

We won’t stop working until every American is working.


Saudi Arabia’s Electricity Market

February 29, 2012

Jennifer Derstine and Kira West work in the Office of Energy and Environment within the Manufacturing and Services division of the International Trade Administration

Saudi Arabia’s electricity market is growing rapidly, and will provide significant opportunities U.S. exports. Rising incomes and a growing population are driving both increases in electricity consumption and investment in energy-efficient transmission and distribution infrastructure. Additionally, high levels of solar radiation make the Saudi market a potential area of growth for solar energy technology and services.

Saudi Arabian Solar Radiation Station Maintenance

Saudi Arabian Solar Radiation Station Maintenance (Courtesy of DOE/NREL)

Other market drivers include the Saudi government’s goals of reducing reliance on fossil-fuel use for power generation, increasing reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, integrating solar energy generation, and achieving efficiency gains in residential, commercial, and industrial energy consumers. In April, Assistant Secretary Nicole Lamb-Hale will lead a Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia to help U.S. exporters benefit from the opportunities in this growing market.

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), which is majority owned by the Saudi government, owns the transmission and distribution infrastructure and most generation capacity in Saudi Arabia. In 2007, SEC also opened the market to independent power producers (IPP), offering 20-year power purchase agreements for power generation projects. The Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Agency (ECRA), one of three government entities that oversees the electricity sector, has long-term plans to deregulate the electricity market, separating generation, transmission, and distribution networks and introducing private competition.

SEC’s transmission and distribution network has seen considerable investment over the last decade, with SEC expanding the network by more than 50 percent since 2000. SEC also invested in energy efficiency technology, deploying 12,000 electric meters equipped with automated reading and variable rate systems in 2010.

However, the Saudi electric grid suffers from above average transmission losses, so investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure and energy efficiency technologies will remain high. Investment in the distribution system in Saudi Arabia is predicted to reach $24 billion over the next decade, and SEC has plans to further expand the transmission network within the country and to create new interconnections between GCC states.  U.S. exporters will see a wide range of opportunities in green building, smart grid, and energy efficiency technologies.

In order to support its goals of reducing oil and gas power generation, the Saudi government is also prioritizing solar energy deployment. Saudi Arabia has sufficient solar resources to meet a large portion of its growing electricity demand, and the Saudi government envisions both PV and CSP solar technologies will play a role in solar development. U.S. companies will find opportunities in this sector in consulting and engineering services for design, construction and management, as well as supplying solar technology and equipment.

More detailed information about the Saudi electricity market and opportunities for U.S. exporters is available in the Market Intelligence Brief.