Archive for the ‘Trade Policy’ Category

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STRENGTHENING CREDIT CONDITIONS FOR EXPORTING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

April 6, 2018

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Ericka Ukrow is a Senior International Trade Specialist specializing in Financial Services at the International Trade Administration.

Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2017. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Meeting of the TFAC, February 22, 2018. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Exporters, lenders, and researchers are working together to improve options for trade financing through the Department of Commerce’s Trade Finance Advisory Council (TFAC).

In an increasingly interconnected global economy, trade is taking a prominent role in our country’s economic growth.

The availability of finance is essential for a vigorous trading system. Most export transactions are supported by some form of financing or credit insurance. However, significant gaps in the global provision of trade finance remain.

Globally, the trade finance gap in 2017 was estimated at $1.5 trillion, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facing the greatest hurdles to access trade finance.

The TFAC advises the Secretary of Commerce on effective ways to increase access to financing resources for all U.S. exporters, especially SMEs. With up to 20 private-sector members representing financial and insurance services providers, manufacturing firms, trade finance industry associations, and research organizations, the TFAC’s thought-leadership coordinates perspectives from diverse stakeholders into the development of policies and programs in this area.

These insights help direct Commerce’s actions toward conducive framework conditions that would amplify U.S. exporters access to strategic educational and financing resources.

Over the last fifteen months, the TFAC has focused on:

  1. export finance best practices;
  2. enabling new private sector channels for the flow of credit to exporting SMEs;
  3. education strategies to reduce the information gap across government, community banks, and other enablers of SME finance;
  4. addressing financing process obstacles that impede SME credit;
  5. analyzing trade credit insurance underutilization in the United States; and
  6. reviewing the performance of alternative export credit agencies’ models.
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 17, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell - Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

Meeting of the TFAC at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell – Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

At the February TFAC meeting, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recognized the Council for its critical role in advancing the Administration’s goal of reducing U.S. trade deficits by empowering more SMEs with financing solutions that would increase their export opportunities.

“While we seek to level the playing field and negotiate more favorable terms with our trading partners, we count on you to continue empowering SMEs in the international arena. Without adequate access to finance, it is difficult for U.S. exporters to sell their products and services globally.”

He also encouraged Council members to identify how emerging technologies, such as blockchain, could facilitate trade finance solutions and reduce risk for U.S. SME exporters.

The TFAC also welcomed Secretary Wilbur Ross’ new appointed members this year:

  • Steven Bash, Senior Vice President, International Banking, City National Bank
  • Alan Beard, Managing Director, Interlink Capital Strategies
  • Russell D’Souza, Vice President, Corporate Treasurer, Hanesbrands, Inc.
  • Patricia Gomes, Managing Director, Regional Head Global Trade and Receivables Finance North America, HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
  • William Browning, Senior Vice President, Business Credit – Trade Finance Manager, First National Bank
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken - National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera - The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann - Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul - Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

Meeting of the TFA at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken – National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera – The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann – Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul – Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

These new appointees expand the Council’s expertise in their representation of both users and providers of trade finance in the manufacturing, banking, and management consulting services sectors.

The TFAC expects to discuss improving the credit conditions and diversifying financing sources for U.S. exporters at their Spring meeting.

If you would like to learn more about the TFAC, you can visit our website or you can contact us at TFC@trade.gov.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the TFAC, stay tuned! The Council may be looking for applicants this summer. You can learn more here.

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Administration Moves Forward with Plans to Renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Seeks Comments from the U.S. Public

May 23, 2017

John Andersen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere

On May 18, the Administration formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As provided by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, this notification triggers a 90-day period before negotiations with Canada and Mexico can begin. As part of the 90-day process – and in an effort to hear from you – the Administration has published a Federal Register Notice (FRN) soliciting public comments on the renegotiation. Per the FRN, the Administration seeks comments on general and product-specific negotiating objectives, as well as comments on specific provisions.  Following the comment period, a public hearing will be held at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The FRN seeks comments on a total of seventeen topics that will help inform the direction, focus, and content of the NAFTA negotiations. These include digital trade, intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises.  Written comments must be submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative no later than Monday, June 12, 2017. To access the FRN for more detailed information and submission instructions, please click here.

Stakeholder consultation is crucial to ensuring our trade agreements are reflective of what the U.S. economy needs to thrive and grow. This is a great opportunity for your voice to be heard. I hope your organization will take the time to submit input that provides the U.S. government with actionable recommendations that will generate meaningful outcomes for U.S. businesses, workers, consumers, farmers, and ranchers.

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Provide Input on the United States Trade Deficit

May 5, 2017

The Trump administration is analyzing the causes of America’s persistent and massive trade deficits. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is asking for input from American stakeholders on the factors that contribute to the more than $500-billion-annual goods and services trade deficit facing the United States. The comment period is already underway with the deadline for submissions on Wednesday, May 10. The Department of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 18, at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C., at 9:30 am.

This hearing and request for comments allows all American stakeholders to provide relevant information on the effects of international trade with the countries with which the United States has significant bilateral trade deficit in goods.

Reducing or eliminating these trade deficits will usher in a new era of prosperity for American companies and workers. If your company or industrial sector is experiencing problems exporting goods or services to China, Mexico, Europe, Japan, India, Korea or any other major foreign market, then we want to hear your story, as well as your ideas on how to fix the trade deficit. We also want to hear from you if your company or sector is being harmed by illegally subsidized or dumped foreign imports.

Comments will be submitted in a report to President Trump. This information will help the administration renegotiate trade deals and more effectively deter and punish trade abuses when they occur. Differential tariffs, non-tariff barriers, dumping, and unfair subsidies have reduced exports, harmed American workers, and shuttered U.S. businesses. The report will include an examination of how the United States’ trade relationships impact job creation and wage growth at home.

Information on submitting comments or requests to appear at the hearing can be found here.

 

 

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Initiative to Facilitate Data Flows in Asia Scores Big Wins

April 18, 2017

Michelle Sylvester-Jose is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration

The ability of U.S. businesses to transfer data across borders received a big boost last month as Singapore, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines communicated their plans to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system. The three economies join South Korea, which submitted its Intent to Participate earlier this year. With these new additions, the CBPR system will cover over a half billion Internet users.

Once implemented, companies across all sectors in the United States will be able to benefit from uninterrupted data flows in these markets, enabling them to sell more goods and services and support American jobs. As these economies take the next steps towards participation in the CBPR system, the Department of Commerce will continue its work to encourage additional APEC economies to join, expanding markets in the Asia-Pacific region where the CBPR system will be available for use by U.S. businesses.

Since APEC leaders first endorsed the CBPR system in 2011, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Japan have joined the system. The APEC CBPR system was developed by the 21 APEC member economies in consultation with industry and civil society to build consumer, business and regulator trust in cross border flows of personal information. The APEC CBPR system requires participating businesses to develop and implement data privacy policies consistent with the APEC Privacy Framework. Participation in the CBPR system is voluntary, but once an organization joins and certifies to the principles, its commitments are legally enforceable. Beyond facilitating data transfers across borders, the CBPR system increases privacy protections to the benefit of consumers and provides companies with a mechanism to demonstrate strong privacy protections and a basis upon which to build a global compliance system.

For more information and updates on the Department of Commerce’s work on the APEC CBPR System, contact Michael Rose (Michael.Rose@trade.gov) or Andrew Flavin (Andrew.Flavin@trade.gov).

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Department of Commerce Releases Report on Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Petitions

April 17, 2017

Morgan Barr, Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis in ITA’s Industry & Analysis Division

On April 10, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., released the Department’s report on petitions submitted to temporarily reduce or suspend the tariffs paid on particular imported products. With this report, Commerce completes an important step in the new process outlined by Congress in The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (AMCA) of 2016.

When more than 2,500 petitions were submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) at the end of 2016, Commerce got to work on its review.  Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service were charged with determining whether or not domestic production of the article that is the subject of each petition exists and, if so, whether a domestic producer of the article objects to the petition.  Commerce also reviewed all submitted public comments.  An ITA team also reviewed each petition to identify any possible overlap with antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders.

In addition, Commerce worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to incorporate its comments concerning any technical changes to the petitions’ article descriptions that are necessary for purposes of customs administration upon importation.

Under the AMCA, the USITC will take the Commerce report into account before making its final recommendation to Congress on whether a requested product should be included in Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) legislation. The USITC will deliver its preliminary report on MTBs to Congress in June.

The Commerce report can be found at http://trade.gov/mtbs

Additional information on the MTB process can be found at https://mtbps.usitc.gov/external/

 

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Miscellaneous Tariff Bills Public Comment Period Opens

January 10, 2017

Jeffrey Eversman is an International Economist in ITA’s Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s (USITC) Public Comment Period for the 2016 Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) cycle will begin tomorrow, January 11, 2017. The USITC published a Federal Register notice, which can be found on the USITC MTB website, inviting the public to comment on the list of petitions it received during the MTB submission period. The website includes details and specific dates for filing pubshippinglic comments, along with the full list of MTB petitions. The window for submitting public comments to the USITC will close on February 24.

Anyone, including U.S. companies that produce a like or competing product for which a petition has been submitted, may submit a public comment supporting or objecting to the proposed tariff reduction or suspension. The USITC will use these comments and input from the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and other agencies in making a final recommendation to Congress on whether individual MTB petitions should move forward.

Commerce’s involvement in the MTB process is centered on answering two simple questions: does domestic production of the product subject to petition for duty suspension or reduction exist, and, if so, does a domestic producer of the product object to the duty suspension or reduction. Verified instances of domestic production and any subsequent objection from domestic producers will be shared in Commerce’s report to the USITC and to Congress in mid-April.

Commerce will be reviewing all claims of domestic production submitted through the public comments. Companies that prefer to remain anonymous but would still like to note an objection are encouraged to do so to Commerce directly by sending an email to CommerceMTBs@trade.gov. Commerce will not share information on domestic producers who wish to remain anonymous. However, for the purposes of Commerce’s report, all claims of domestic production will still be verified by Commerce staff. Again, the USITC is responsible for making the ultimate determination of whether domestic production of a given product exists and making a recommendation to Congress on each petition.

If you would like to contact the Department of Commerce directly regarding any petition, staff can be reached at the email address CommerceMTBs@trade.gov. More detailed information on MTBs and Commerce’s role in the process may be found at http://www.trade.gov/mtbs.

 

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The North American Clean Energy Partnership Initiative

March 18, 2016

Stephen Sullivan is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of the Western Hemisphere

The United States, Canada, and Mexico have established a global standard for economic integration. Thriving commercial relationships and deeply connected supply chains have led to $1.2 trillion in total two-way goods trade between the United States and its North American partners in 2014.

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NACEPI logo

Increased trade drives job creation and economic growth.   Integrated supply chains and reduced barriers to trade have built a solid foundation upon which North American competitiveness can continue to be enhanced to the benefit our citizens.  As we prepare for new challenges and opportunities in the 21st Century global marketplace, we must effectively leverage this regional economic integration to ensure continued growth and prosperity.

The North American Clean Energy Partnership Initiative (NACEPI) is one such effort.  Clean Energy is one of the most dynamic, fast-changing, and transformative sectors of the global economy.  A global consensus exists:  the world must deal with the threat of climate change, in part through the deployment of clean energy technologies.  The developed and developing world alike is choosing to promote clean energy through policy incentives to create opportunities and drive investment in almost all markets.

Through NACEPI, we will be working to make North America the dominant player in the use and export of clean energy and environmental technology.   This will entail supporting the development of business linkages among clean energy technology companies in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  The initiative will connect North American SMEs to multi-national supply chain opportunities and facilitate access to government and multilateral development bank procurement tenders.

The success of SMEs in the global marketplace is essential to our regional prosperity as these businesses are vital drivers of our respective economies.  In the United States, 63 percent of net new private-sector jobs are generated by SMEs and they account for 33 percent of the total value of U.S. exports.

The launch of NACEPI will take place at Centrallia in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, May 25-27, 2016.  This face-to-face business matchmaking event will serve as a foray into connecting North American clean energy companies.

The U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s Office of North America is the lead on this Initiative.  For more information please contact:  Stephen.Sullivan@trade.gov.