Archive for the ‘Trade Policy’ Category


Americas Competitiveness Forum: Enhancing Prosperity of the Western Hemisphere

July 26, 2013

Calynn Jenkins is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She is studying political science at American University. 

For the United States, the Western Hemisphere has provided a fertile ground for export opportunity. It is the destination for approximately 42 percent of U.S. exports, more than any other region across the globe. Since 2009, U.S. goods exports to the Western Hemisphere increased by more than $200 billion to nearly $650 billion, supporting almost four million U.S. jobs in 2011.

Specifically, exports to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, and Colombia are at an all-time high. The United States’ relationship with these Western Hemisphere partners is a top priority for global development.

That’s why the America’s Competitiveness Forum (ACF) is such a key event for the region.

Since 2007, the ACF has provided Western Hemisphere nations a chance to come together to share priorities, successes, and lessons learned to support sustainable growth in the region. It has attracted thousands of participants from the region’s public and private sectors, including heads of state and economic ministers, as well as leaders from business, academia, and civil society.

This year’s forum will take place in Panama City, Panama from Oct. 2-4. It will be an important step toward furthering the relationships that exist within the hemisphere. It will also provide U.S. companies access to high-level officials and potential clients to explore new export opportunities.

For more information about the ACF or to register for the Forum, visit:


Under Secretary Sánchez Participates in Americas Competitiveness Forum

October 31, 2012

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Marc Buergi is a fellow in the Office of Public Affairs at the International Trade Administration

U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez led Commerce’s delegation to this year’s Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Cali, Colombia, October 24-26.

Sánchez’s participation underscored the U.S. government’s commitment to enhance the competitiveness of the Americas – a region that is vital to the U.S. economy. With Mexico and Canada, it not only includes two of our three largest trading partners, but also some of our key trade agreement partners, including the host country Colombia.

The Obama administration and the Commerce Department are firmly committed to strengthening U.S. trade within the Western Hemisphere. At the 2012 Summit of the Americas, President Obama announced a number of initiatives designed to enhance this important trade relationship. These included the 100,000 Strong Initiative to expand student education exchanges; and the creation of the Innovation Fund of the Americas that increases access to export financing thereby expanding trade opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises.

In Cali, Sánchez reported on the strong efforts of all U.S. government agencies to advance these initiatives.

The ACF, first held in 2007, tries to improve the region’s competitiveness through innovation, entrepreneurship, public-private partnership and mutual engagement. Hundreds  of representatives from the region’s public and private sector participated in a continental dialogue on competitiveness. Among the numerous guests were heads of state, ministers of economy, commerce, trade and industry, and leaders from academia, civil society, and business.

This year’s ACF helped further develop the goals established at last year’s Forum in the Dominican Republic: In 2011, the “Santo Domingo Consensus” set forth 10 objectives to promote progress toward a more competitive and prosperous region in areas like education, infrastructure, and trade liberalization.

The participants of this year’s ACF learned about the progress and experiences the countries made in adopting the 10 principles: At the opening event of the Forum, the Inter-American Competitiveness Network presented its report “Signs of Competitiveness of the Americas.”

The ACF featured several collateral events, including a business ethics workshop focused on the medical device industry in the Americas, a higher education forum focused on STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and a closed door meeting of ministers of trade, commerce and industry.

Commerce is looking forward to helping deliver on the action items put forward at this important event.


Promoting Growth and Competitiveness in the Americas

November 1, 2011

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By Eric Toler, an intern in the ITA’s Market Access and Compliance unit.

At the fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum, held this year in the Dominican Republic, representatives of more than 30 countries from throughout the Western Hemisphere pledged to take steps to foster long-term economic prosperity and support growth in trade throughout the region.

Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade, addresses attendees of the Americas Competitiveness Forum, held October 5–7 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade, addresses attendees of the Americas Competitiveness Forum, held October 5–7 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

The United States sends more than 40 percent of its exports to the Western Hemisphere, making the region one of our most important trading partners. And with the recent passage of the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements, U.S. economic ties with the region will only deepen. On October 5–7 at the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a delegation from the International Trade Administration (ITA) joined with its counterparts from throughout the Americas to chart a course for enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economies, demonstrating the long-term commitment to strengthening economic ties with the region.

Fifth Gathering

This year’s event brought together more than 1,000 senior business and government officials. Participants included ministers of economy, industry, and finance from more than 30 countries throughout the Western Hemisphere. Also present were former and current heads of state, as well as representatives from civil society. Over the course of the ACF’s three days, Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade and leader of the U.S. delegation, met with a number of his counterparts. He reiterated President Barack Obama’s commitment to forging new, mutually beneficial partnerships with the countries of the Western Hemisphere. In remarks at a plenary session, “Latin America and the United States: Vision 2020,” Sánchez noted that “success in the 21st century will be fueled by cooperation and community. We must help each other sharpen our competitive edges and build a better future for our peoples.”

Now in its fifth year, the ACF has emerged as the premier economic and commercial event of the Americas. The inaugural ACF was held in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2007. As host, the Department of Commerce was responsible for developing the core themes and unique programmatic structure of the event. The success of the inaugural ACF has been replicated in the subsequent four forums.

Regional Competitiveness

The ACF also featured the annual meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (or RIAC, for its Spanish acronym). RIAC was established in 2009 at the third ACF in Santiago, Chile. It brings together representatives from more than 30 national councils from throughout the Western Hemisphere’s to discuss the state of the region’s competitiveness, exchange experiences and best practices, and consider reforms and public policies.

High on the agenda at this year’s meeting of the RIAC was a vote on the Santo Domingo Consensus, a set of 10 policy objectives designed to promote a more competitive and prosperous region. Taking into account the need to foster growth and competitiveness amidst an environment of international economic uncertainty, the objectives of the Santo Domingo Consensus call for, among other goals, investment in education and human capital; improvements in infrastructure and the business environment; increased access to capital; and the promotion of trade(see sidebar).

RELATED: The Santo Domingo Consensus

Michael Camuñez, assistant secretary of commerce for market access and compliance, represented the United States at the RIAC meeting. He highlighted the importance of the objectives embodied in the Santo Domingo Consensus by noting that “in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we must work together as a region. In doing so, we will create the jobs and sustained economic growth so vital to our respective futures.”

Summit of the Americas

The Santo Domingo Consensus was approved enthusiastically by members of the RIAC, and will next be presented to hemispheric leaders for their endorsement at the Summit of the Americas that is scheduled to be held in Cartagena, Colombia, in April 2012.

Both the ACF and RIAC provide a platform to promote reforms that will support economic growth in the Western Hemisphere and which will in turn help increase and encourage the export of U.S. products, services, and technologies throughout the Americas.

The next ACF, scheduled for October 2012, will be held in Cali, Colombia. For more information about this year’s ACF, go to


Economic Growth in the Western Hemishpere Will Be Focus of Fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum

September 9, 2011

by Peter Bowman, an international trade specialist in The International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit.

The fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF), the preeminent economic and commercial event in the Western Hemisphere, will take place October 5–7, 2011, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The ACF grew out of a commitment made by the United States in November 2005 at the Summit of the Americas held at Mar del Plata, Argentina, to cooperate to advance common prosperity, combat inequality, and achieve sustainable economic growth throughout the hemisphere. The first gathering was held in Atlanta, Georgia, in June 2007.

U.S. and Mexican representatives meet in Atlanta, Georgia, November 2010 during the fourth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). Representatives from more than 34 countries are expected to attend the fifth ACF, which will be held October 5–7, 2011 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

U.S. and Mexican representatives meet in Atlanta, Georgia, November 2010 during the fourth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). Representatives from more than 34 countries are expected to attend the fifth ACF, which will be held October 5–7, 2011 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

Since then, the ACF has worked to inspire programs, policies, and partnerships that will improve the economic prosperity at the local, national, and regional levels and, thereby, ensure a brighter future for all people in the region.

This year, the fifth ACF is expected to bring together more than 1,000 public- and private-sector participants from throughout the Western Hemisphere. Representatives from more than 34 countries will attend, including heads of state; ministers of economy, industry, and finance; academic leaders; and members of civil society and business.

The ACF distinguishes itself from other international gatherings by presenting a unique blend of public–private policy dialogue on best practices in competitiveness and by offering many services for participating businesses. Services include export counseling sessions, market opportunity sessions, and business-to-business (and business-to-government) meetings.

Each ACF program is built around key themes that represent the drivers of competitiveness. The core themes of this year’s ACF are education, renewable energy, trade facilitation, business climate, and innovation in services.

This year, the ACF will also host a meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network, which was launched at the 2009 ACF in Santiago, Chile, with support from the participating governments and the Organization of American States (OAS). In addition, Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas, an initiative that promotes inclusive growth, prosperity, and social justice, will host a working group meeting with the Inter-American Development Bank, the OAS, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean as strategic partners.

For more information on the fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum, as well as registration instructions, visit the forum’s Web site at For additional information, contact Peter Bowman in the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit, tel.: (202) 482-8356; e-mail:


The President’s Export Council Visits Capitol Hill

July 20, 2011

Dominique Griffith is an intern for the International Trade Administrations’ Office of Advisory Committees. He is a rising senior at American University, studying International Relations.

Last week, staff representatives of the President’s Export Council (PEC) along with administrative officials held staff briefings on Captiol Hill on the role of the PEC and its recent work. The PEC is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the executive branch. These briefings, which were done separately for the House of Representatives and the Senate, addressed the PEC’s background (the administration, the private sector, and the congressional role), trade policy, export assistance, small business and workforce assistance, and success measuring for U.S. businesses.

Our staff representative for Xerox pointed out that when, the CEO of Xerox, Ursula Burns, was asked to be the Vice Chair of the PEC she wanted make sure this particular PEC focuses on “measurement and accountability.” In other words, she did not want the PEC to only discuss ideas on how to help U.S. exporters, she wanted to see action. She also wanted to have this action recorded and measured. The PEC has requested this measuring trend so that the Administration can truly see action and progress on policies for which businesses have been advocating.

As an intern for ITA’s Office of Advisory Committees, I assist staff members with tasks such as writing briefing papers and industry research. That being said, one of the most rewarding projects I’ve had a chance to work on has been the “balanced score card” for the PEC’s recommendations. The score card included the PEC’s recommendations, polices that have been implemented thus far, and what actions the Administration will be taking to be responsive to the recommendations. Some of the recommendations included advocating for the passage of the pending Free Trade Agreements, visa reform, enhancement of our transportation infrastructure, and better coordinated export assistances for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The PEC’s recommendation on transportation infrastructure was particularly interesting to me because it outlined how reliable transportation and infrastructure can help the flow of exports which are essential to our economy. For example, the Department of Transportation’s second round of TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants focused on financing infrastructure projects that would enhance exports. Another recommendation that is being implemented is on Export Control Reform. Just yesterday, White House Chief of Staff Daley discussed how critical these reforms are so I’m looking forward to see how the PECSEA (the PEC subcommittee that focuses on export controls) moves forward on it’s ideas to strengthen national security through reforming the U.S export control system.

After reading through the recommendations and seeing how the Administration has responded, I soon began to realize how implementing the PEC recommendations will lead to an increase in exports and get our economy back to where it needs to be. Last week’s Hill briefings were a success and although I am only an intern, I know that the work we do with the PEC is vital to the Administration and especially to businesses across the country.


Informal Commercial Exchange, Trade Talks with Norway

June 9, 2011

Juan Verde is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe in the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance Unit. In this capacity, he leads the Department of Commerce’s efforts to help solve trade policy and market access issues facing U.S. firms seeking to grow their business operations in Europe and Eurasia.

Today I had the pleasure of welcoming Norwegian State Secretary for Trade and Industry Rikke Lind along with her esteemed delegation for the U.S. –Norway Informal Commercial Exchange (ICE) talks. These talks highlight our commitment to dialogue on issues that could benefit our industries’ participation in each others’ market –and spur innovation.

The agenda items ranged from increasing market access for certain environmentally friendly U.S. vehicles to increased protection for intellectual property rights for pharmaceuticals and digital content. We also discussed U.S. anti-dumping/countervailing duty measures on Norwegian salmon, science exchanges, Norway’s search and rescue helicopter procurement, and bottling taxes. I believe the Norwegian Government received informative briefings from various U.S. agencies on legislative and regulatory issues of concern, particularly in the area of trade security and shipping.

Several follow-up meetings will be held as part of our ongoing dialogue and work plan. I very much value Norway as a trading partner and I am grateful for the commitment of the State Secretary to working through and clarifying trade barriers.

Our merchandise exports to Norway increased by 11 percent in 2010, from 2009. Imports from Norway increased 22 percent in 2010 from 2009. U.S.-Norway trade in services has grown rapidly. U.S. exports of services to Norway rose from $1.4 billion in 2003 to $2.8 billion in 2009. U.S. imports of services from Norway rose from $1.4 billion in 2003 to $1.5 billion in 2009. I am confident those numbers will continue to rise and that our routine dialogue on trade issues plays a constructive role.

The ICE talks aim to reduce barriers to trade and increase market access.  The issues were brought to us by members of industry interested in achieving greater market access.  MAC has many bilateral dialogues to raise various trade issues in support of U.S. exports.  If you are encountering a trade barrier contact us at our Trade Compliance Center


Trade Roots and ITA Partner to Bring Green Products to Brazil

June 6, 2011

Cora Dickson is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration(ITA) in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries. She is also the coordinator for the Export Green: Brazil project under the Market Development Cooperator Program.

You may recall when I reported here in November on the launch of “Export Green: Brazil” at the Americas Competitiveness Forum. Now, the two-year project under ITA’s Market Development Cooperator Program is getting into full swing with its first trade mission to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro August 28-September 2.

In partnership with the Brazil-U.S. Business Council and Trade Roots, two entities within the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ITA already provides technical assistance for activities under Export Green. Today, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Lamb-Hale raised the profile of their Certified Trade Missioneven further by announcing her participation in key events of the mission to highlight U.S. companies’ ability and desire to fulfill Brazil’s green technologies needs.

Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Y. Lamb Hale during the "Opportunities for Colorado Green Companies in Brazil" event in Denver

Approximately 15-20 green tech companies will participate in the trade mission, which is focused on green building solutions and will coincide with the “Brazil Green Build Conference and Expo” in São Paulo. Participating companies will also benefit from ITA’s matchmaking services by having a day of meetings in São Paulo with potential business prospects. In Rio de Janeiro, the delegation will take part in a conference organized by Export Green and also take a tour of the Porto Maravilha, a district revitalization project with a focus on LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

As part of outreach for the mission, last month Assistant Secretary Lamb-Hale and I travelled to Denver for Export Green’s forum, Opportunities for Colorado Green Companies in Brazil. In her keynote speech, she expressed ITA’s enthusiasm: “We stand ready to help U.S. companies that want to export clean technologies, and we are ready to leverage our bilateral ties with Brazil. We have full confidence that the Brazil-U.S. Business Council and Trade Roots can open doors on this trade mission.”

When it hosts the upcoming World Cup (2014) and Olympics (2016), Brazil is hoping to showcase green infrastructure and architecture. Even small U.S. companies with innovative technologies can take advantage of subcontracting opportunities. Best prospects in the Brazilian green building sector include energy efficient lighting, smart systems for energy automation and management, water treatment, onsite renewable energy, and the use of recycled materials in design and construction.

To demonstrate the market potential for green technology products in Brazil, we recently hosted a webinar to talk about opportunities and strategies. My colleagues from ITA’s Brazil country desk and the Commercial Service in São Paulo gave their perspectives, in addition to my own sectoral analysis, and we had presentations from the Brazil-U.S. Business Council as well, including an overview of the trade mission itself. You can download the webinar presentations here. You can also watch a recorded version, found here – for access, use the conference number PW7277144 and the passcode 3706981. But this replay is only available until June 18, so be sure to check it out soon. The deadline for applications is June 29. For more information, see the Export Green website.


Talking About APEC and Big Trade in Big Sky

May 15, 2011

Mrs Brenda J Fisher is the Senior APEC Affairs Coordinator and has been working in the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit for 28 years, of which the last 12 years have been focused on coordinating the US Dept of Commerce’s engagement in APEC

This weekend I am writing to you from the beautiful venue of Big Sky, Montana where the second Senior Officials Meeting for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC is taking place. Additionally, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Ministerial Meetings are being held her as well.

What is APEC?

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was established in 1989 to take advantage of the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies, to facilitate economic growth for all participants, and to enhance a sense of community.  It aims to improve regional trade and economic performance and linkages for the prosperity of the people in the region.  APEC aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by facilitating balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure economic growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

APEC has grown to become one of the world’s most important regional groupings.  Its 21 member economies are home to more than 2.7 billion people and represent approximately 54 percent of world real GDP and 44 percent of world trade.  APEC is the most economically dynamic region in the world.  Since APEC’s inception, members have experienced average annual GDP growth of 3.6 percent, versus 2.9 percent growth in non-APEC economies (on a purchasing power parity basis).

APEC is a unique forum, operating on the basis of open dialogue and respect for the views of all participants. In APEC, all economies have an equal say and decision-making is reached by consensus. There are no binding commitments, compliance is achieved through discussion, and mutual support in the form of economic and technical cooperation.

APEC has helped to reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade across the Asia-Pacific region.  Business transaction costs were reduced by 10 percent between 2002 and 2010.  APEC has worked to create an environment to ensure the safe and efficient movement of goods, services and people across borders through policy decisions and capacity building.  During this period, APEC member economies have grown, and developing economies in particular have experienced substantial increases in GDP and standards of living.

The forum constantly adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region’s economic well-being.  This includes combating corruption, planning for pandemics and natural disasters, countering terrorism, addressing climate change and implementing structural policy reform.

Priorities for APEC USA 2011

In 2007, the United States volunteered to host the four major sets of APEC meetings in 2011:  in March in Washington, DC, in May in Big Sky, Montana, in September in San Francisco, and in November in Honolulu.   In Montana, APEC’s Trade Ministers and APEC’s Small and Medium Enterprise Ministers will meet separately (on May 19-20 and May 21, respectively) and also come together for the first time in a joint session on May 20.  A “Women in the Economy” Summit and joint Energy and Transportation Ministers meeting will be held in September.  APEC Trade Ministers will meet again in November, as will APEC’s Finance Ministers, immediately prior to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu.


Winning The Future – Together

March 31, 2011

Mike Masserman is the director of the Office of Advisory Committees and oversees the President’s Export Council, the Manufacturing Council and 18 other advisory committees.

Greetings from the Local 597 pipefitters training facility outside of Chicago where I’m joined by leaders from labor, academia, business and government to talk about trade, jobs and the 21st century American workforce.  Specifically, we’re here for a President’s Export Council (PEC) Workforce Readiness summit hosted by William Hite, General President of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Sprinklerfitters and HVAC/R Service Technicians.  The purpose of this session is to discuss how America’s workforce can increasingly become an enabling factor in meeting the President’s goal of the National Export Initiative to double our nation’s exports over the next few years supporting millions of jobs.  We’ll be looking at initiatives that can be scaled up nationally and will focus on a number of areas including apprenticeship programs, the crucial role of community colleges and reaching underserviced parts of the workforce.  Other advisory committees, like the Manufacturing Council are working on similar issues so please be on the lookout for future updates on their recommendations.  We look forward to more opportunities where the public and private sector come together to figure out new and innovative ways to create the jobs of tomorrow and further strengthen the American economy.


Border Export Strategy Impact in El Paso

March 24, 2011

Francisco J. Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Today I was in El Paso, Texas with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Alan Bersin, Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to highlight the importance of trade, border security, and the Border Export Strategy.

The International Trade Administration recently launched the Border Export Strategy (BES), which is a priority component of the National Export Initiative, which seeks to double exports from the U.S. by 2015 to support several million jobs.

The City of El Paso is an important gateway between the United States and Mexico, and total merchandise trade that passed through the El Paso district in 2010 amounted to $71.1 billion. More than 80 percent of this trade passed through the port of El Paso.

This strategy is designed to increase the export potential and opportunities for U.S. companies doing business along the shared Canadian and Mexican borders.

We are striving to enhance local public-private trade collaboration and support efforts to reduce trade barriers limiting secure and efficient commerce across our borders.

Despite security challenges in the border region, NAFTA trade statistics show a 29 percent increase in total trade between the U.S. and Mexico from 2009-2010. In addition to close collaboration on security and infrastructure issues in the interagency process, the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security are working together to identify other potential areas for collaboration on U.S. exports. Potential areas include issues related to the Foreign Trade Zones, a review of the targeting efforts for goods and travelers, and technical assistance to other countries in the world, where customs operations are problematic for exporters and need to be modernized.

The City of El Paso sponsors a foreign-trade zone (FTZ) that is currently used by 19 different companies. In 2010, the El Paso FTZ handled $7.3 billion in merchandise – including $1.7 billion in exports – with more than 900 workers employed by the companies using the FTZ. The Foreign Trade Zone program is just one of the ways in which we can boost employment, manufacturing, and exports from the United States.

As we move forward with the implementation of the BES, I look forward to close collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the City of El Paso.

The U.S.-Mexico border is not a border economy. It is a vital part of the national economy of both nations, and I, for my part, will do what it takes to preserve, protect it and grow it.