Archive for the ‘Strategic Partners’ Category


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.




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.


Connecting America’s Veterans to Meaningful Civilian Employment – A Win-Win Proposition

November 10, 2016

This month, SelectUSA is pleased to feature a new multi-part guest blog focusing on workforce opportunities. These posts are authored by members of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), which is responsible for coordinating activities across federal agencies that promote investment. Read the first entry here.

By the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program

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The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) – which provides a variety of benefits and services to Service members, veterans, and their families – is dedicated to helping veterans attain personal and economic success by building on their unique attributes.

While veterans can invariably face challenges transitioning back to civilian life, the successful integration of our nation’s heroes into the work force makes both families and communities at-large stronger and more stable.

Moreover, companies can benefit immensely from hiring veterans – a unique pool of experienced, dedicated workers with valuable leadership, teamwork, and cross-functional job skills.

This is why connecting America’s veterans to meaningful civilian employment is one of the Administration’s highest priorities.

The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program provides a wide range of vocational and employment services to assist eligible veterans with service-connected disabilities and an employment handicap prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment.  Services are designed to help them receive the skills required to pursue career goals aligned with their rehabilitation plan. These services include:

  • Interest, aptitude and ability assessments
  • Occupational exploration, and career counseling
  • Job training, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching
  • Employment placement services, employment accommodations, and post-employment follow-up

Through the VR&E Service’s Employment Coordinators (ECs) the VBA establishes relationships with employers and partnerships with other organizations to advocate for placement of Veterans.  VR&E’s ECs partner with employers in order to:

  • Address their workforce needs, and education and skills required for placement
  • Promote greater awareness of employment opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities
  • Continue communication for the purpose of developing working relationships
  • Ensure the Veteran and the Employer are a match
  • Promote the use of special hiring programs such as the Non-Paid Work Experience, Special Employers Incentives, On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeship to increase Veterans opportunities for placement into meaningful careers
  • Establish Memorandum of Understandings to encourage partnership opportunities between the employer’s local offices and VA’s regional offices, if needed

VR&E’s  Employment Coordinators can assist employers through the following programs:

  • VR&E on the Job Training Program (OJT)

Through the on-the-job training program, VR&E subsidizes Veterans’ salaries so that employers pay an apprentice-level wage while training Veterans. As the Veteran progresses, the employer pays a larger portion of the Veteran’s salary, until the training program is completed and the employer is paying the full salary.  Please review our Understanding On-The-Job Training & Apprenticeship Approval Guide for employers and sponsors.

  • VR&E Special Employer Incentive Program (SEI)

Through the Special Employer Incentive program, employers may receive an incentive to hire Veterans facing barriers to employment, which includes reimbursement of as much as 50 percent of the Veteran’s salary for up to six months.

  • VR&E Non-Paid Work Experience Program (NPWE)

The Non-Paid Work Experience program allows local, state, and federal government offices to temporarily employ a Veteran without having the position count against the agency’s full-time equivalent allocation. VR&E pays the Veteran a monthly subsistence allowance while he or she learns valuable work-related skills and experience. Though the office is under no obligation to hire the Veteran, the goal of this program is for the Veteran to obtain full-time, permanent employment in the office where he/she is placed or a similar office. Please see VA’s Non-Paid Work Experience video to learn more about this program.

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.  WOTC joins other workforce programs that incentivize workplace diversity and facilitate access to good jobs for American workers. To learn more please see

As a member of the IIWG, the VBA gives international firms the chance to invest in one of America’s greatest assets: its people. To learn more about how your company can participate in these programs, please visit VR&E at


Partnerships Come in All Shapes and Sizes

November 7, 2016

Jamie Merriman is is the Acting Director of ITA’s Office of Strategic Partnerships

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In the government, as in many other places, you often hear “do more with less.” Our Strategic Partnership Program helps us to do just that. One example of a partnership in action is the Grow Global series led by our Strategic Partner, American Express.  This year, the Grow Global series visited Baltimore, MD and Long Beach, CA. It brought together small and medium-sized businesses who were seeking to export or expand their export markets.  American Express provided their organizational and programmatic support to the events.   During the panels and presentations, ITA told the audience about the various U.S. government resources available to them, including our Top Markets reports. We brought our industry experts who could answer their sector-specific questions and helped guide them to the right market. Attendees had the opportunity to connect directly with free and low-cost trade resources that they may not have otherwise been aware of.


These events allow both ITA and American Express to leverage their strengths to provide actionable export information to U.S. companies.  More than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside of the United States, while less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export – a percentage that is significantly lower than all other developed countries. “The ITA has been an important partner to the American Express Grow Global program, providing important resources and information to help U.S. companies take advantage of exporting opportunities and to grow their business.” – Rosa Alfonso-McGoldrick, Vice President, American Express Global Commercial Payments.

You don’t have to be a large corporation to be a partner with ITA. We also partner with smaller businesses, universities and associations. One example is our partnership with the non-profit association WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy).  ITA and WIPP worked together to develop and launch the ExportNow webinar curriculum in 2015.  ExportNow, a series of webinars which provides an overview of export sales channels with detailed segments on market analysis and building marketing plans, including financing requirements and opportunities, is targeted to WIPP’s members and other U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises.  WIPP and ITA continue to collaborate on new webinars in the series, and have also engaged other ITA partners to focus on the legal and financial aspects of exporting.  “WIPP’s goal is to provide our members with the best resources available to help them launch and grow their exporting businesses. In that regard our partnership with ITA, which gives us access to their experts, materials and know-how, has been invaluable.”  Jane Campbell, President of WIPP and Director of the National Development Council’s Washington office.

Our partnerships enable us to broaden and deepen our outreach and also provide ITA with important feedback. Benefits include:

  • Growing the U.S. exporter base, thereby supporting U.S. jobs at wages 13 to 18 percent higher than non-exporting firms;
  • Helping ITA target its products and services to the needs of America’s businesses; and
  • Increasing awareness of the benefits of international trade and foreign direct investment to the U.S. economy.

Partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. The Strategic Partnership Program enables ITA and its partners to each focus their core competencies in contributing to the larger goal of U.S. economic success, creating the capacity to achieve more than we could accomplish alone.  To reach that goal requires open communication, clear objectives, and a shared sense of mission.  Since his first day in office, President Obama has recognized the importance of public private partnerships, and called on agencies and departments to increase their collaboration with the private sector.  ITA’s Strategic Partnership Program is a prime example of that collaboration, and we look forward to continued collaboration with our private sector partners in the years ahead.

To learn more about who our partners are, visit


Workforce Development with UNICOR

November 3, 2016

This month, SelectUSA is pleased to feature a new multi-part guest blog focusing on workforce opportunities. These posts are authored by members of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), which is responsible for coordinating activities across federal agencies that promote investment. 

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


Companies looking to establish, reshore, or expand manufacturing operations in the United States can benefit from a unique federal partner that exemplifies the business principle of doing well by doing good.  This partner – which offers modern facilities as well access to a reliable U.S. workforce with a broad spectrum of manufacturing and technical expertise – is UNICOR, a government corporation under the U.S. Department of Justice.

Let’s begin with the idea of doing good.

Since 1934, UNICOR has been a crucial correctional program, with a mission to provide federal inmates valuable “real world” job and life skills training to enhance their prospects for employment and reentry success upon their release from prison. President Obama has emphasized the Administration’s goals of helping inmates prepare for reentry, stating: “Our prisons should be a place where we can train people for skills that can help them find a job…” UNICOR provides job skills to approximately 17,500 inmate workers annually. Upon release, program participants are 24 percent less likely to recidivate and 14 percent more likely to find and maintain sustainable employment, than those who did not participate. These numbers mean more productive, law-abiding citizens, more intact families, and safer communities.

UNICOR is good for local economies as well. On average, 72 percent of UNICOR’s revenues return to the economy from the procurement of ancillary equipment, supplies, and services within the region of factory production. Companies that first manufacture with UNICOR may even grow to the point of building their own factories. Additionally, the UNICOR workforce can add to the skilled labor force of the community upon release from prison.

Now on to doing well.

UNICOR serves as a viable business incubator or manufacturing extension for business operations. When companies lack capital to build new or additional factories in the United States or face other constraints, UNICOR can provide immediate access to factory and warehouse space nationwide. UNICOR also offers a flexible labor force to help meet companies’ surge production needs. Moving production to the United States – the world’s largest market – can help companies reduce transportation costs, increase sales, as well as lower production costs, most notably by avoiding the significant outlays of purchasing equipment and leasing factory space.

UNICOR also possesses repatriation (reshoring) authority to produce or assemble products for a company that certifies they are currently produced, or would otherwise be produced, outside the United States. UNICOR can also produce non-repatriated products for the private sector when the work performed will not displace sector jobs, inmates are paid the local prevailing wage, and other conditions are met. UNICOR also provides commercial market services (e.g., call centers) to the private sector when doing so does not displace local workers.

Through the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group, SelectUSA and UNICOR have partnered to assist and encourage companies to create and retain U.S. jobs both through UNICOR factories and the private sector at large. By working with UNICOR, companies can obtain financial and manufacturing benefits, help inmates obtain technical skills, and turn distressed areas into vibrant hubs of economic activity. To discuss opportunities with UNICOR, visit or email