Archive for the ‘Market Access and Compliance’ Category


U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement To Enter Into Force October 31

October 25, 2012

Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Follow him on Twitter @UnderSecSanchez.

The wait is over. On October 31, 2012, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) will go into effect, guaranteeing American access to one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and supporting American jobs and U.S. competitiveness.

Panama’s nearly $22 billion services market. This is yet another big step for our country, as it is an integral part of the President’s efforts to increase opportunities for U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers through improved access for their products and services in foreign markets. The Panama TPA supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

The Agreement with Panama is one that holds significant potential for the future of American exports. Panama’s economy expanded over 10.6 percent in 2011, and is forecast to continue high annual growth through 2017.  The TPA will ensure that U.S. firms have an opportunity to participate on a competitive basis in the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project. Panama’s strategic location as a major shipping route and the massive project underway to expand the capacity of the Canal enhances the importance of the U.S.‐Panama TPA.  Panama’s government has also announced almost $10 billion in additional infrastructure projects, and the agreement will help U.S. companies and workers benefit from these opportunities.

The U.S.-Panama TPA will eliminate or reduce trade barriers to U.S. exports to the Panamanian market as well as create a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment. This will result in a level tariff playing field and more job opportunities in America. U.S. industrial goods currently face an average tariff of 7 percent in Panama, with some tariffs as high as 81 percent. U.S. agricultural goods face an average tariff of 15 percent, with some tariffs as high as 260 percent. This is all about to change.  As of October 31, when the Agreement enters into force, U.S. exporters to Panama will experience the immediate beneficial effects of the TPA in the drop to zero of tariffs on industrial goods such as computers and IT equipment, agricultural and construction products, medical and scientific equipment, pharmaceuticals, and environmental products.  Agricultural product exporters will also enjoy the immediate benefits of duty-free treatment on this date, particularly for the following products:  high-quality beef, frozen turkeys, sorghum, soybeans, almost all fruit and fruit products, wheat, peanuts, whey, cotton, and many processed items.

The Agreement with Panama will give America access to Panama’s nearly $22 billion market for services, including in priority areas such as financial, telecommunications, computer, distribution, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services. I urge everyone to visit to review industry-specific and state-by-state opportunity reports between the U.S. and Panama in the recent years . Without a doubt, this TPA will play a tremendous role in increasing exports and continuously supporting American businesses.


Workshop Shows Exporters How to Overcome Barriers to International Trade

October 24, 2012

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

Skip Jones is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Agreements and Compliance.

Assistant Secretary Michael Camunez delivers keynote speech at the Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers Workshop at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Assistant Secretary Michael Camunez delivers keynote speech at the Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers Workshop at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. products are the most sought-after products in the world.  However, U.S. companies sometimes have problems selling their products abroad. They encounter various foreign government-imposed trade barriers such as unfair technical requirements, discriminatory government procurements, or unfair customs valuation practices. In many cases, these difficulties represent a country’s not honoring its trade agreement with the United States.

To address these difficulties, the U.S. Department of Commerce operates the “Trade Agreements Compliance Program.”  Representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered participants expert advice at a “Workshop to Defeat Foreign Trade Barriers” in Washington, DC, and explained how to take advantage of this free Commerce program.

The day-long event was organized by the National District Export Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It featured numerous panels, roundtables and keynote addresses.

The speakers discussed current trends in foreign non-tariff barriers, and the government programs and policies available to combat them.

Download full video .mp4 (22MB)

The message was clear: The U.S. government is doing everything it can to help American businesses overcome these barriers as quickly as possible. As the Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sánchez, stressed in his remarks to the audience :

“Trade agreements can serve as powerful export multipliers, but they need to work properly to reach their full promise,” he said.  “The Commerce Department intends to do its part to see that they do. Let us know when you encounter trade barriers abroad. Work with us so we can remove them as quickly as possible so that your job-creating exports can flow to foreign markets unhindered, just as they should.  ITA’s Trade Agreements Compliance program is a terrific, free resource for U.S. exporters encountering these trade barriers.”

In addition to Under Secretary Sánchez, over 30 speakers offered their insight to the participants – among them, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, Michael Camuñez, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, Ambassador Chuck Ford.

U.S. companies are highly successful in international markets, if they can compete on a level playing field. Efforts like today’s workshop, as well as the underlying work of all U.S. government agencies, help ensure that is the case.

If your business encounters a trade barrier, please visit a Barrier for assistance.


Understanding U.S. Trade Rules and Regulations

May 16, 2012

Update: On October 1, 2013, the International Trade Administration (ITA) underwent a consolidation from four business divisions into three more efficient and functionally aligned units. In the blog post below, references to ITA’s “Import Administration” division should be read as ITA’s “Enforcement and Compliance” division. Other than that name change, the information remains accurate.

Import Administration enforces the U.S. unfair trade laws (i.e., the anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws) and develops and implements other policies and programs aimed at countering foreign unfair trade practices.

Unfair foreign pricing and government subsidies distort the free flow of goods and adversely affect American business in the global marketplace. When that happens, the International Trade Administration can take enforcement actions. ITA’s Import Administration is the agency’s lead unit on enforcing trade laws and agreements to prevent unfairly traded imports and to safeguard jobs and the competitive strength of American industry.

Following U.S. law, regulation, and consistent with international trade rules, the Department of Commerce has the authority to conduct investigations of the alleged subsidization or dumping of foreign products sold in the United States.

If a U.S. industry believes that it is being injured by dumped or subsidized imports, it may request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties by filing a petition with both the Department of Commerce and the United States International Trade Commission (ITC).

If Commerce determines that a petition satisfies all requirements under the law to initiate an investigation, the agency will publish a Notice of Initiation in the Federal Register. The Notice of Initiation will lay out a general history of the proceeding, including dates of official filings as well as the scope of the investigation, explain how Commerce went about making a determination of industry support, and details how the petitioners went about estimating the existence of dumping or subsidization.

The ITC determines whether the domestic industry is suffering material injury (or the threat thereof) as a result of the imports under investigation. In so doing, the ITC considers all relevant economic factors, including the domestic industry’s output, sales, market share, employment, and profits.

If both Commerce and the ITC make affirmative findings of dumping and/or subsidization and injury, Commerce instructs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assess duties against imports of that product into the United States. The duties are normally assessed as a percentage of the value of the imports and are equivalent to the dumping and subsidy margins.

Commerce conducts its investigations in accordance with statutorily mandated deadlines and in an open and transparent manner with full opportunity for interested parties to provide relevant information and defend their interests.  These investigations proceed on the basis of an administrative record on which all information and arguments relevant to the decisions are placed.  Preliminary and final determinations are made on the basis of this record, reflecting the parties’ responses to Commerce questionnaires, the on-site verification of such responses in the foreign country, case briefs and arguments made by the parties and, where requested, public hearings.  The investigation results are also subject to probing domestic judicial review and must be consistent with WTO rules.

Visit Import Administration for more information on Department of Commerce’s investigation procedures.



April 28, 2011

Judy Reinke is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s Senior Commercial Officer in India.

Hello from Houston, which has been the site of this year’s ACCESS 2011 conference, the largest trade promotion program of the U.S. Commercial Service focused on opportunities in the Africa, Near East and South Asia region. Well over 200 companies joined this two day conference to learn all about business practices and prospects in these fast-growing, yet challenging markets. The event featured fresh insights from 18 Senior Commercial Officers based in such key markets as South Africa, India, Nigeria, the UAE and others, as well as lively presentations from experts who have succeeded in doing business throughout this region and representatives of other U.S. Government agencies, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Adminstration. The personal experiences shared by the Senior Commercial Officers in Egypt and Libya, who lived through the recent revolutions in those countries, held the crowd spellbound and helped the audience understand the depth of insight they can gain from all of the officers located in these markets in transition. A highlight of the speaker program was a keynote address by the Director General of the U.S. Commercial Service, Suresh Kumar, who described how the U.S. Government is coordinating efforts to help U.S. business achieve their exporting goals, and thereby meet the objectives of President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

I’m Judy Reinke, representing the U.S. Commmercial Service in India, and I can tell you that there was a huge amount of interest in exporting among the participating U.S. firms, which was extremely encouraging to those of us who are committed to helping our companies increase America’s exporting profile in order to create and sustain jobs in this country. While at the ACCESS conference, I not only joined several Commercial Service colleagues at the podium, speaking to a packed ballroom about the India market, but I also the opportunity to meet privately with 18 companies with specific questions about how the Commercial Service could help them with their market entry strategy and other business issues in India. I was impressed with the qualifications of these firms, many of whom are ready to export (and a few who are already in India, and looking to expand). One firm want to know how best to ensure the qualifications of a firm with whom they may enter into an assembly agreement, shipping core components from the United States – I had the opportunity to describe the International Company Profile that my office can carry out to provide background on the India firm, including information on the firm’s financial standing based on public records and a reputation check with key contacts carried out by my staff. This is an important component of due diligence that helps U.S. firms make an informed decision before entering into an agreement with an Indian firm. Several firms, including companies in fields as diverse as the defense equipment and fashion industry, were interested in finding partners to represent them in India. That is a core expertise of the staff in all of the Commercial Service offices located in 77 countries abroad. The local staff, using their extensive database of business contacts, carry out partner searches – either in the form of an International Partner Search (carried out on behalf of the U.S. client firm without the need for travel to the country) or a Gold Key Appointment Service (a targeted appointment service for U.S. business visitors which has been our flagship service for the last 20 years). I’m sure several of the firms I talked to will be in the Indian market before this year is out!

The feedback I got form the firms I talked to during ACCESS 2011 was tremendous. Many are ready to enter new markets NOW, and I know my staff back in India are eager to work with them. As for me, Houston has proven to be a city with huge export potential, and I hope I’ve helped a number of companies there plan out the next steps in their exporting strategy. Now, I’m ready to move on to New Orleans, where I have more firms to meet and a chance to meet with a business delegation from India. I look forward to sharing my experiences from this next stop on my whirl-wind trip very soon!