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U.S. Commerce Official Highlights Smart Cities Technologies in Singapore

August 9, 2016

Margaret Hanson-Muse, Regional Senior Commercial Officer, ASEAN U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Embassy Singapore

Leading an official visit to Singapore from July 14 to 17 on behalf of the United Stated Department of Commerce, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Arun Kumar emphasized opportunities for U.S. companies in Singapore and the global marketplace, focusing on the new and innovative Smart Cities Initiative. Kumar led a Water Infrastructure Business Development mission of nine U.S. companies to Singapore.

At an event co-hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and the US-ASEAN Business Council, Kumar launched the Smart Cities, Regions, and Communities: Export Opportunities guide that will assist U.S. companies in competing for and winning business opportunities in the emerging Smart Cities space. A Smart City is one that leverages technology and data to become more energy efficient, clean, and green, while addressing citizen engagement, governance, and critical needs in education and healthcare. Kumar was joined at the event by Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas.

The new guide is an outcome of President Obama’s Smart Cities Initiative launched last year to leverage new resources and investment for the promotion of sustainable growth in communities throughout the United States while advancing U.S. business opportunities at home and abroad.

Focusing on U.S. export opportunities and citing a White House fact sheet, Kumar stated that “54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and continued population growth and urbanization will add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. The associated climate and resource challenges demand innovative approaches. Products and services associated with the Smart Cities markets present significant opportunities for U.S. companies, since nearly 90 percent of this increase will occur in Africa and Asia.”

Showcasing Innovative “Smart” Technologies, a visit to Accenture

In recognizing Singapore as one of the world leaders in the development of Smart Cities technologies, Kumar visited the new Accenture Internet of Things (IoT) center to explore what innovation can mean for Smart Cities. He was escorted by Dwight Hutchins, Managing Director Accenture Strategy Products, Asia Pacific and Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce of Singapore.

“A visitor to this Center is indelibly impressed by the power of digital technology and how it can be used to gain a competitive advantage” Kumar said. “Cities, like businesses, are also seeking ways to harness digital technology as a more efficient means of providing necessary services to their citizens. Singapore’s enduring commitment to innovation and to becoming a Smart Nation makes it an excellent choice to host such a center. This center is designed to help customers, including Cities, to capitalize on these new technologies to pursue long-term growth.”

The center seeks to help companies in sectors like consumer goods, agriculture, forestry, metals, mining, oil and gas, chemicals, and utilities to capitalize on innovation and new digital services and business models. It also focuses on intelligent connected devices and machines that comprise the Industrial Internet of Things. Centers such as this will be important catalysts for innovation and adoption of Smart Cities technologies.

U.S. businesses are well positioned to assist in Singapore’s Smart Cities development through technologies and services in the energy, environment, infrastructure, healthcare, and information technology sectors. As part of its Smart Nation program launched in 2014, Singapore has been monitoring and promoting urban sustainability and environmental cleanliness, increasing the potential for new and expanded U.S.-Singapore partnerships.

U.S. companies regard Singapore as an excellent place to do business. Since 2003, the World Bank Group has ranked Singapore first in the world in the ease of doing business. Moreover, bilateral trade between the United States and Singapore reached US$46.7 billion last year; a growth that has been enhanced thanks to the success of our bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Since the U.S.-Singapore FTA came into force in 2004, U.S exports to Singapore have increased by 48 percent. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes 12 countries, including the U.S. and Singapore, will be the next chapter in our strong commercial relationship.

The Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative will invest more than $160 million in federal research funding and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local U.S. communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate and improving the delivery of city services. The new initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s overall commitment to target federal resources to meet local needs and support community-led solutions.

For more information on export opportunities in Singapore, visit the U.S. Commercial Service in Singapore at


Business Investment that Counts: Congratulations to Sofidel and Circleville, Ohio on New Groundbreaking

July 12, 2016

By Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

Yesterday, I was honored to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for Italy-based Sofidel Group’s first greenfield investment in the United States – a 1.4 million square-foot integrated paper manufacturing facility in Circleville, Ohio expected to create more than 300 jobs. With a speaker lineup featuring Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, Sofidel CEO Luigi Lazzareschi, Columbus2020 CEO Kenny McDonald, P3 Executive Director Ryan Scribner, and JobsOhio Senior Advisor David Mustine – the event clearly demonstrated the depth of community support and engagement for this project.


L to R: Tony Curtis, CEO Sofidel America, Simone Capuano, Sofidel Ohio project manager, Luigi Lazzareschi, CEO, Sofidel Group, Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

My role was twofold – first, to welcome Sofidel on behalf of the U.S. government, and second, to congratulate the local community and recognize the vital, collaborative efforts of the state, regional, and local economic developers that helped transform this manufacturing opportunity from a vision to a reality. My observations following the event are below.

Sofidel’s $259 million commitment to Circleville – the largest private sector investment in the community in decades – was recently highlighted by President Barack Obama at the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit. It was a particularly meaningful occasion to recognize Sofidel – a world leading manufacturer of paper for hygienic and domestic use – because the Summit is where it all began.

Each SelectUSA Investment Summit is a unique opportunity for investors and those seeking investment to connect and explore the diversity of opportunities across the United States under one roof. Following meetings at the 2015 Summit, Sofidel welcomed Columbus2020, JobsOhio, and the Pickaway Progress Partnership to their facility in Italy. Shortly thereafter, the company’s planned Circleville facility was officially announced in November 2015, which culminated in yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony. This investment milestone would not have been possible without the support and close collaboration of these dedicated regional and local economic development teams and the state government – and it is truly remarkable how it all came together.

In his remarks, the president emphasized that this project represents exactly the type of investment that the United States welcomes to our shores. The United States is consistently ranked among the best internationally for its overall competitiveness and ease of doing business – and today, Italian companies directly employ nearly 125,000 people across the country.

For companies like Sofidel, which has been making tremendous headway since entering the market in 2012, the United States offers a competitive platform for manufacturing and exports; a transparent, fair, and stable business environment; and one of the world’s most productive workforces.

At the same time, foreign direct investment in the United States creates high-paying jobs, spurs innovation, and drives exports – connecting American communities with global networks. This has a significant real-world impact on Circleville, and communities like it all across the country.

Win-win outcomes like these are why SelectUSA was created in 2011 to help companies considering establishing or expanding operations in the United States. We are proud to have played a role in bringing Sofidel together with these high caliber partners, and look forwarding to continuing to work with all parties towards the next key milestone of this project.

Congratulations and best wishes on the dawn of an exciting new chapter for Circleville and for Sofidel.

To learn how SelectUSA can help your community to attract international investment or assist your company to establish or expand in the United States, visit


New Opportunities with TPP – Increasing U.S. Exports to Singapore

July 12, 2016

Margaret Hanson-Muse is the Regional Senior Commercial Officer for ASEAN at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. Amy Vickery is an International Trade Specialist covering Singapore for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Singapore is a reliable trading partner, strategic ally, and friend to the United States.

Consistently ranked the easiest place in the world to do business and among the best on indices of competitiveness and perceptions of corruption, Singapore offers a hospitable business climate for American companies exporting, investing and operating abroad. As a shipping and logistics hub and first-world financial center, Singapore is an ideal entry point to the ten ASEAN countries, and even to India and China. As such, over 3,600 U.S. companies have already established a presence in Singapore, with many designating Singapore as their regional and sometimes even second global headquarters. Mirroring U.S. industry’s enthusiasm for operating in Singapore, the U.S. Department of Commerce established its regional commercial office for ASEAN at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore in 2012.
Underpinning our strong bilateral commercial relationship is the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), in force since 2004. The U.S.-Singapore FTA was the United States’ first FTA in Asia and has contributed to a 48 percent increase in U.S. exports to Singapore since implementation. In 2015, Singapore was our 13th largest goods export market and 17th overall largest trading partner. Singapore’s foreign direct investment into the United States reached nearly $20 million last year. Goods exports to Singapore totaled $28.7 billion in 2015, yielding a trade surplus of $10.4 billion—the sixth largest trade surplus for the United States. This goods surplus demonstrates that FTAs work and that U.S. economic well-being is inextricably linked to the Asia market.
Successful implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will be the next chapter in our strong bilateral commercial relationship with Singapore. The TPP, which involves 12 countries, including the United States and Singapore, will help U.S. exporters once it is approved and implemented. As Singapore already has an open economy and existing FTAs with the United States and all other TPP parties except Canada and Mexico, the bulk of economic gains for U.S. firms vis-à-vis Singapore will not come through direct tariff reductions. In fact, Singapore currently maintains the lowest tariff levels of the TPP parties, with an average Most Favored Nation (MFN) applied tariff rate of 0.2 percent. Instead, benefits to U.S. companies will come from the TPP’s improvements on the core obligations in existing FTAs and World Trade Organization agreements, reductions in non-tariff barriers that impede trade, and strategic gains as Singapore’s regional hub status is further solidified through simultaneous regional integration efforts.
Let’s explore a few examples of new benefits under the TPP:
The TPP’s expanded “rules of origin” will help both the United States and Singapore, and are an improvement over the U.S.-Singapore FTA. Under the TPP, these rules, which determine whether or not a good qualifies for preferential tariffs, will now allow for “regional cumulation.” This should allow U.S. and Singaporean exporters to get duty-free treatment on a greater range of goods than they can currently under the U.S.-Singapore FTA.
Professional services are an example of an industry sector that will gain from the TPP. In 2014, Singapore’s imports of services accounted for 13.4 percent of its total trade, a larger proportion than any other TPP country. The TPP represents liberalization over the U.S.-Singapore FTA for several professional services, including architectural, engineering, and auditing services. For Singapore, the TPP contains fewer scheduled exceptions for these services than the bilateral FTA does. This should enable greater exports of U.S. architectural, engineering, and auditing services to Singapore.
For more information on new U.S. export opportunities in Singapore under the TPP please see our Singapore TPP factsheet. Additionally, to find out more about best prospect sectors in Singapore, please see our Country Commercial Guide and Top Market Reports. We invite U.S. exporters interested in exploring the Singapore market to contact us.


Global Trends Put U.S. Building Product Exports on Solid Footing

July 11, 2016

Joanne Littlefair is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration

Increasing urbanization worldwide is a megatrend driving global export opportunity for U.S. building product manufacturers, according to a new report, 2016 Top Markets Building Products and Sustainable Construction, from the International Trade Administration (ITA).  With more than half the world population now living in urban areas and more would-be residents flooding into cities daily, cities are challenged to create built environments in which increasingly dense populations can thrive.

This megatrend fuels ITA’s projection that in 2018 some $39.4 billion in global export opportunities will await U.S. exporters of seven categories of building products.  U.S. manufacturers of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) products, lighting, plumbing products, wood products, insulation, windows and doors and glass for construction are globally competitive and well positioned to respond to six key trends driven by the urbanization megatrend.

The ITA Top Markets study ranks 75 international markets in terms of 2018 sector export prospects, supported by 10 country case studies.  The study elaborates six focal areas capturing policy and commercial attention as global markets seek increased building performance.

  1. Resilience

In the face of natural and man-made risks, the ability to circumvent, withstand, and recover from impacts is essential to economic and social vitality.  Resilience is a concept receiving considerable attention from governments, investors, international organizations and private sector construction stakeholders.  Buildings have a clear role to play in this sphere.

  1. Energy efficiency

Fully one third of world energy use is estimated to occur inside buildings, so improving building energy efficiency can have huge impacts on energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions.  Improving energy efficiency can be expected to be a continuing core focus throughout buildings.

  1. Water efficiency

Water shortages and drought conditions experienced around the globe underscore the importance of buildings in achieving more sustainable environments.  Estimated to account for 20 percent of global water use, buildings have much to contribute to increasing water efficiency.  The nexus of water efficiency and energy efficiency also is increasingly recognized.

  1. Net-zero energy buildings (NZEB)

The NZEB concept has captured considerable attention globally.  Government policies and private initiatives can be seen being geared to designing, building and operating structures in which the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy generated on site.

  1. Healthy buildings

Notably among institutional and commercial buildings, and increasingly across all building types, there is a focus on increasing building value through a healthy building approach.  This emphasizes indoor air quality, use of low-toxicity materials, occupant thermal comfort and access to natural light, among other factors.

  1. Smart buildings

A smart building is generally understood as one reflecting a holistic approach to a building’s design, construction and operation to maximize efficiencies, occupant comfort and other functional priorities. The building is a system of systems that communicate within the building and externally to optimize performance.  Smart buildings create immediate opportunity for design services and information and communication technologies. They also create demand for high-quality building products with inherent efficiency and interoperable functionality compatible with smart building design.

For additional information on these export opportunity drivers, and how they manifest across the 10 case study markets, download the full report, 2016 Top Markets Building Products and Sustainable Construction.

ITA trade specialists around the globe stand ready to assist U.S. entities with their international market development objectives.  U.S. building products are globally competitive and opportunity exists for companies of all sizes.



Doing Business in Peru—TPP Offers Expanded U.S. Export Opportunities

June 28, 2016

Ricardo Pelaez, Senior Commercial Officer, Lima, Peru

For a decade (2003-2013), Peru was Latin America’s fastest growing economy with an average annual growth rate of 6.3 percent. Over the same time period, it cut poverty in half from 54% to 23.4%. Peru’s economy continued to grow at rates of 2.4 and 2.9% in 2014 and 2015 respectively and is outperforming its regional neighbors. Experts forecast Peru’s economy will return to 3.7 and 4.1 % growth in 2016 and 2017, respectively. This growth will be driven by expanded mining production and anticipated continuation of sound macro-economic and market friendly policies under a new Kuczynski government that takes office on July 28, 2016.



Peru’s low inflation and second highest credit rating in Latin America make it an attractive market for U.S. exporters. Peru is our 6th largest export market in Latin America, with U.S. exports totaling $8.8 billion in 2015. Some 12,000 U.S. companies currently export to Peru, roughly 86% of which are SMEs. The United States is Peru’s 2nd largest export market and 2nd largest supplier of imports after China. U.S. products and services are well-positioned to expand in sectors such as mining, construction, food processing and packaging, e-commerce, education, industrial chemicals, medical supplies and equipment, plastics, water management, and security and safety equipment.

The U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) entered into force in 2009, immediately eliminating tariffs on over 80% of U.S. consumer and industrial products exports to Peru. PTPA has had a tremendously positive impact on trade between our two countries. Since 2009, two-way trade between the U.S. and Peru has grown 8% per year and U.S. exports to Peru have grown 11% per year. Furthermore, the PTPA was a catalyst for Peru to sign another 16 FTAs encompassing 52 economies, cementing its free- trade policy. Peru is actively pursuing regional trade integration through membership in the Pacific Alliance and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In the past few months, my team has assisted more than 170 U.S. exporters interested in penetrating the Peruvian market and recruited over 420 Peruvian buyers to attend U.S. trade shows. We supported over 50 U.S. exhibitors at Perumin, Peru’s largest mining convention and trade show held in Arequipa biennially. In response to a Presidential initiative improving Peruvian citizens’ access to healthcare, we organized a three-day Healthcare Trade and Investment mission led by the Deputy Secretary of Commerce that featured 23 U.S. companies.

The Peruvian government has allocated an additional $1.6 billion to invest in education projects in 2016, which includes the building and design of high performance schools with state of the art educational technologies. Peru’s investment in new transportation and telecommunications infrastructure will contribute to growth in the construction sector, while ongoing mining and energy projects and the continued demand for housing and office facilities will further spur growth in the market and offer new opportunities for U.S. firms.

Peru’s world-renowned gastronomy has fostered growth in its local food processing and packaging industry. Local Peruvian ingredients such as fruits, peppers and Andean cereals are now being successfully marketed internationally. The growing middle-class now has greater purchasing power for more expensive, processed and packaged food products which offers opportunities for U.S. technologies in this sector.

All of these developments mean good news for U.S. exporters. Once in force, the TPP Agreement will amplify the synergies between our two markets, as we increase exports to the other TPP member countries, particularly Asian markets. The TPP will add to the success of the PTPA and increase opportunities for new partnerships between Peruvian and U.S. companies.

As of 2014, over 39,000 U.S. jobs were supported by goods exported to Peru, and that success is expected to increase under the TPP. To learn more about doing business in Peru and other markets, I invite you to select Peru under our Country Commercial Guides. To learn more about U.S. export opportunities to Peru under TPP visit our Peru TPP Country Report.


World Trade Month May be Coming to an End, but our Work Continues

May 27, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

World Trade Month logo

World Trade Month logo

During the past few weeks, ITA employees have participated in events across the country in recognition of World Trade Month. The month gives us all an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of trade and investment as a driver of prosperity for our workers, businesses, and the U.S. economy.

Under Secretary Stefan Selig kicked off World Trade Week at the International Trade Awards breakfast with business leaders and foreign government representative in New York City.

On May 16, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker honored 123 U.S. companies and organizations that export goods and services overseas during the 2016 President’s “E” Awards ceremony. This year, for the first time in the award’s 54-year history, winners represent every state and the District of Columbia. This was a true representation that trade is fundamental to the success of American workers.

During the week of May 16 we celebrated World Trade Week by leading two trade missions: a renewable energy trade mission to Mexico and a business development mission to the South Pacific.

In addition, on May 25, we had the pleasure of partnering with the Global Innovation Forum—a project of the National Foreign Trade Council—for an educational program at Microsoft Ventures in Seattle as a part of our Startup Global program, an initiative designed to help more startup firms think on a global scale from the earliest stages of growth.

But as we look forward beyond May, we must think about the work that must continue. Bilateral trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are crucial to our economies success. The agreement will eliminate high tariffs and provide a strong path for our businesses here at home.

The ITA staff has developed useful resources on the agreement that can help exporters look forward to this 21st century trade agreement. The Opportunities by Markets Report, Jobs Supported by Exports, country fact sheets, tariff tool and state fact sheets- are all FREE tools that highlight new opportunities available once TPP is passed.

In addition to TPP, we are looking forward to the SelectUSA Summit, June 19-21 in Washington DC. The Summit brings companies that are considering establishing or expanding operations together with economic developers from across the country to learn how the U.S. climate for innovation—as well as the other advantages offered by the United States—can support their global competitiveness. We expect to welcome more than 2,000 participants to Washington from approximately 70 countries and every corner of the United States.

Although World Trade Month may be coming to an end, our work here at ITA will continue. We will continue to advocate fair trade across boarders for American businesses and its workers. We will also continue to provide our customers with resources to help them make informed decisions before, while and after doing business abroad. Stay up to date on the resources available by subscribing to our ITA Newsletter, a monthly update on the latest news in trade.

And for those of you on social media, thanks for being a part of the conversation! #worldtradeweek #EconDevWeek.


2016 Sector-Specific Reports Provide U.S. Companies with Latest Assessment of Export Opportunities    

May 24, 2016


Marcus Jadotte is the International Trade Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry & Analysis.

Earlier today, the International Trade Administration (ITA) released the 2016 Top Markets Reports to provide the latest assessment of export opportunities for U.S. companies. The Top Markets series is a collection of 19 sector-specific reports that are designed to help U.S. exporters compare markets across borders, using market intelligence and data to inform decision-making.

Top Markets Logo

Top Markets Logo

Thanks to feedback from our clients, we know that having sector-specific, forward-looking market intelligence is imperative for U.S. companies as they work to increase exports and identify their next export market. ITA is committed to providing this type of information and we hope that the Top Markets Reports have helped to meet this need. The 2015 versions of the Top Markets Reports had nearly 68,000 page views and were downloaded more than 16,000 times.

We are excited to build upon our reports from last year to reflect the most up-to-date analysis and insights from our experts, as well as incorporate information about how key developments in 2015 — such as the commitments from the December 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris and the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiations — will impact opportunities for U.S. exporters. Additionally, each report has new country case studies. This year, we have produced seven new reports providing market intelligence for a range of important industries, including pharmaceuticals and manufacturing technology.

From aircraft parts to renewable energy, education to cold supply chain, cloud computing to industrial automation, each Top Markets Report includes commentary on opportunities, trends, and challenges facing U.S. exporters in key potential markets. The reports combine the unique expertise of ITA’s sector leads in Industry & Analysis with economic data and the views of our staff stationed around the world. Exporters can access full reports or view individual sections. Collectively, the series includes more than 200 pieces of individually-viewable market intelligence.

To download a full report or view individual case studies within each report, visit

The Top Markets Reports are also a tool for federal agencies to use to prioritize export promotion activities and trade policy initiatives. We have already begun to incorporate the insights and analysis from the 2015 Top Markets Reports into these efforts, including targeting trade mission destinations and recruitment for the International Buyers Program at trade shows based on the top market rankings.

We hope you find these reports valuable and welcome your feedback and suggestions.


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