Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


First Meeting of Trade Finance Advisory Council Seeks Increased Access to Finance for U.S. Exporters

December 12, 2016

Ericka Ukrow is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the Office of Finance and Insurance Industries

The Department of Commerce has responded to the needs of its clients and partners – it is stepping up efforts to expand private sector trade finance with the inaugural meeting of the Trade Finance Advisory Council (TFAC).

The Council is comprised of 20 private-sector leaders representing banks, financial technology companies, other trade finance organizations, exporters, and a research institution charged with advising the U.S. Commerce Secretary on policies and programs that can help expand access to private sector trade finance for U.S. exporters, especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and educate them about the resources available.


TFAC members sharing their perspective on key priorities for the TFAC with Commerce officials.

In her remarks last month to the Council, Secretary Penny Pritzker underscored the importance that trade finance plays in supporting trade. “Nearly all global merchandise trade, worth in excess of $18 trillion annually, is supported by some sort of finance or credit insurance. Put simply: without trade finance, there is no trade,” she said.

More of Secretary Pritzker’s tweets can be found here:

Acknowledging that the federal government is a critical source of American exporters’ financing needs, Secretary Pritzker reminded all participants that ultimately, it is the private sector that finances approximately 98 percent of U.S. export transactions. Accordingly, she affirmed the Department’s commitment to working collaboratively with the private sector in supporting efforts that will enhance the financing environment of our exporters and their foreign buyers.

Deputy Secretary Andrews shared Commerce’s priorities and vision for the TFAC. “Without adequate levels of trade finance,” he said, “companies considering whether to expand overseas might never do so; and companies already engaged in exporting may not expand to new markets. This limits the potential for a key element of our country’s economic growth strategy – ultimately costing us jobs that otherwise would have been created. That is why access to finance has been an important part of the Administration’s export agenda.We need industry to help us find solutions to the systemic barriers that impact this sector,” he added.

Council’s Key Priorities

Under direction of the Advisory Council Chair Chris Bozek, a seasoned banker and now Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s North America Head of Trade and Global Product Executive, Council members deliberated and established four initial areas of focus:

  • Innovation and Financial Technology
  • Collaboration and Partnerships
  • Education and Outreach
  • Market Information

These key areas align with the Secretary’s shared vision.

Other Speakers

Recognizing the important role of federal export financing agencies and regulators in the dialogue, Commerce invited representatives from the Export-Import Bank, Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of The Treasury to brief members on their perspectives in this area.

Council members also had the opportunity to learn about existing Commerce resources that support U.S. exporters such as the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), the Strategic Partnership Program, guides to exporting and trade finance, market intelligence reports, and trade missions. They also learned about financing programs and services that the Minority Business Development Agency offers to its client companies.

In his closing remarks, Acting Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, Ted Dean, assured members that “in collaboration with the broader U.S. government, Commerce stands ready to work with Council members to ensure they have the support they need to provide important insights on opportunities to enhance the trade finance environment for our exporters.”

It was an inspiring environment, underscoring that achieving an enhanced financing environment for American exporters is not a task that government can do alone. It must be built on a commitment of collaborative work between the government, private sector and academia. This meeting marked a key step to embracing this path.

The Council is scheduled to hold its second meeting in early spring of 2017.

To learn more about the Department of Commerce Trade Finance Advisory Council, please visit or contact us at


U.S.-China Tourism Year 2016

December 1, 2016

Kelly Craighead is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism and Executive Director for the National Travel and Tourism Office. 

Not only an important trading partner, China is a critically important travel and tourism market for the United States. It plays an enormous role in our ability to reach the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy’s goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors annually to the United States by 2021.


Secretary Penny Pritzker

Travel from China to the United States continues to show double-digit growth, with 2.6 million Chinese travelers visiting the United States in 2015 – an 18 percent growth over the previous year.  Last year, these visitors spent a record $30.1 billion experiencing the United States, positioning China as the United States’ top spending market abroad in terms of travel and tourism exports.

According to the October 2016 National Travel and Tourism Office Forecast for International Travelers, more than 5 million Chinese travelers are expected to visit the United States by 2021 – which would make China the top overseas visitation market.

Recognizing the importance of travel and tourism between the two nations, President Obama and President Xi proclaimed 2016 as the U.S.-China Tourism Year (Tourism Year). The Tourism Year was initiated as an opportunity for both countries to review policies, processes and product offerings to ensure that Chinese visitors to the United States are met with an enjoyable travel experience.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker gave remarks at the U.S.-China Tourism Year closing event. “The Tourism Year was initiated as an opportunity for our countries to take a look at our policies, processes and product offerings to ensure that we can provide Chinese visitors with an enjoyable travel experience,” Pritzker explained

To make the United States a more welcoming destination for Chinese visitors, U.S. Travel and Tourism industry leaders used the Tourism Year to encourage the industry to become “prepared for China.”.

The Department of Commerce had three overarching goals for the Tourism Year:

  • To provide outreach to the entire nation about the importance of being prepared for Chinese visitors in order to be a competitive destination;
  • To successfully execute a small number of “signature events;” and
  • To work closely with industry and across the federal government to encourage efforts to create an enjoyable experience for Chinese visitors from beginning to end.

Signature events completed during the year included the February opening event hosted by Brand USA in Beijing; the 1,000 U.S. visitors to the Great Wall event in March; the China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit in September, held in Ningxia; and the closing event held in Washington, D.C. in November.

Here are just a couple of the achievements during this year:

  • Federal agencies developed new travel itineraries for destinations and activities that speak directly to Chinese interests, including thematic itineraries such as national parks and the great outdoors.
  • Commercial Service produced a China Travel Resource Guide for use by the U.S. travel and tourism industry interested in Chinese visitation.
  • The National Park Service is ensuring that Chinese visitors have access to in-language materials and web information at the most visited National Parks.
  • The State Department maintained progress on visa processing and kept wait times down to less than five days, despite the more than 50 percent increase in applications since the extension of visa validity.

Commerce will continue to work with industry to determine how the government can assist with market access issues in China, and we will continue to push for policy issues to be resolved, including: 1) ensuring there are ample air services to cater to the increasing demand for Chinese travel to the United States; 2) working to open the sale of outbound travel in China to U.S. companies; and 3) ensuring the ability of foreign global distribution services platforms to operate in China.

As our two populations more clearly understand the ties that bind our nations, this will create a multiplier effect for governmental and business ties, and maximize the potential of the most consequential relationship in the world. Deepening those people-to-people ties fundamentally requires travel and tourism, which is why the Tourism Year was so critical.


Plan Your Market Entry Strategy with New Video Series Real World Advice from an International Trade Specialist

November 16, 2016

Debbie Dirr is an International Trade Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service

It’s just before 9:00 am on a Monday morning when I settle in for another day’s work as an International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service Cincinnati. I manage Cincinnati’s satellite office at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, serving as a consultant to U.S. businesses in order to help them plan strategies for export growth. I receive about 30 calls or emails a week from companies in my territory, which encompasses 24 counties in Southern Ohio. When it comes to export assistance, each business that I help has unique needs. There’s no ‘one size fits all.

Recently, the U.S. Commercial Service—with more than 100 offices across the United States and in U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 75 countries—further enhanced its customized outreach to businesses through the launching of a six-themed, How to Export video series. The series, which runs from November 2016 through early 2017, started with Get Ready to Export. The release of the second video topic, Plan your Market Entry Strategy, is an opportune time for me to share some insights into two key elements of export planning: Selecting International Markets and Researching International Markets.

Researching Markets

Download this video (19MB)

Regarding international market research, the most important element is having someone on the ground in a foreign market who can tell you what is going on and verify data and international market research.

For example, companies usually have an idea of where they want to export, but it may not always be the best market for a particular product. That’s where research can make all the difference. I once had a client who wanted to sell capital equipment to Chile for the mining industry. The company was sure that Chile would be a good market. Through a phone discussion with colleagues in the U.S. Embassy-Santiago who knew the industry, we determined that local projects relied on low-cost labor with little or no demand for that equipment. Instead, we turned to other markets. So a ‘negative’ finding can be just as valuable in saving U.S. companies time and resources.

U.S. businesses can obtain market information through many channels, such as agents, distributors, news articles or industry associations. The U.S. Commercial Service’s worldwide ‘boots-on-the-ground’ trade professionals also author Country Commercial Guides that provide the latest market intelligence for more than 140 countries. The agency also offers customized market research.

I would also offer the following advice: If you receive multiple inquiries from specific regions, think about locating a distributor who can introduce your products into markets more efficiently. This, in turn, may lower your shipping costs because of volume, which translates into giving your customers a better price and quicker delivery. Look at your competitors’ websites to see where their international distributors are located. This is another sign that can point your company in the right direction. Take advantage of country and industry trade data found on and consider the 20 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries where trade barriers have been reduced or eliminated for U.S. businesses.

Selecting International Markets

Download this video (21MB)

In selecting markets, businesses need to be aware that some markets will be more challenging than others. Exporting to Canada is a great first market for a company, rather than targeting a distant and complex market such as China. It’s important for a company to evaluate the costs, expenses and difficulties of going into a given market prior to selling there.

In addition, here are some questions that you should address:

  • What are your firm’s internal capabilities for exporting?
  • What standards or regulations might apply to your products or services?
  • Is compliance with foreign requirements worthwhile or even cost-prohibitive?
  • What are the competitive factors in a market (both domestic and foreign)?

Many problems arise because management may fail to coordinate communication among sales, accounting, operations, or other departments. If overlooked, this can cause problems with customs clearance, shipping decisions, and even getting paid. By communicating and planning ahead, your company will be better prepared to handle exporting to new markets.

For example, if a U.S. company is exporting to Saudi Arabia, there are many requirements for the commercial invoice alone. Some of these include a statement that the products being shipped are of U.S. origin, any foreign components must be listed with country of origin and percentages, and the invoice has to be certified/notarized by the U.S. exporter’s local chamber of commerce or sent to a Saudi Arabian consulate for certification.

Finally, it’s important to think regionally. For example, by selling to a country like Singapore, a gateway to Southeast Asia, your firm will have easier access to many other Southeast Asian countries.

There are many other elements of planning your export strategy as well. Later this month, I will post a blog on export counseling. Now, it’s time to meet another client.




The Hershey Company: Nutritional Mainstream Commerce in Ghana

November 15, 2016

Bill Fanjoy is the Director of the U.S. Commercial Service Team in Virginia.

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

Four years ago, a business consultant from Project Peanut Butter (PPB) walked into my International Trade Administation (ITA) office in Arlington, Virginia, and showed me a “60 Minutes” news clip called “Plumpynut: The Miracle Food.” It described a ready-to-use therapeutic formula (RUTF) that treats a malnourished child in a number of weeks. RUTFs are much more accessible and inexpensive than going to a hospital, which is often too far away for many living in rural Africa. This, I thought, could easily be as important commercially and socially as powdered milk was in the 1970’s. First introduced to African mothers through relief groups, powdered milk is now part of everyday African family life, on the grocery shelf next to bread, sugar and cooking oil.


Bill Fanjoy celebrates an export success with Ghanaian children while serving as the acting commercial officer at the U.S. Embassy in Accra.

“Can you help me find local partners in Ghana, so we can start up RUTF production there?” he asked, at the conclusion of the video. PPB had just forged a relationship with the Hershey Company, who would fund a factory, but still needed help finding local partners. The plan was to find palm oil producers, to provide local ingredient, and groups of buyers to distribute the finished product. Within six weeks, ITA’s Commercial Service team at the Embassy in Accra set up on-the-ground meetings for PPB with palm oil producers and non-profit organizations that wanted to distribute RUTF for their relief programs.

Our Commercial Service team supported PPB through its factory renovations, helping complete local business registrations, secure local utilities, formalize local partnerships, and set up quality control systems. The result today is a full production factory in Kumasi, Ghana, employing 20 Ghanaians and producing 65,000 sachets daily. And after passing a joint United Nations-Medecins Sans Frontieres quality inspection last year, the facility is qualified to produce RUTF for sale to U.N. agencies. The peanuts and equipment are American, palm oil and processing are Ghanaian and distribution is non-profit relief and Ghanaian Government.

“Just the beginning”, says partner, Hershey Company

End of story? “No, this is just the beginning,” says Hershey Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Jeff King. Using the same factory, Hershey has added production of a second nutritional product called “ViVi,” a reduced version of RUTF, aimed at providing a peanut-based supplement for Ghanaian school lunch programs. After just one year of production, Hershey’s pilot program provides ViVi to 50,000 Ghanaian students EVERY DAY, bears all the expenses, and has plans to continue and grow. Its full-growth market projection is 1.3 million students, but it will be a great deal higher than that if ViVi goes the way of powdered milk!

Vivi’s trajectory into mainstream distribution will hinge on Hershey’s present and final phase of their business model: reducing costs and increasing production through buying more local Ghanaian groundnuts. Along with USAID, Hershey Company is training Ghanaian farmers to grow safe groundnuts, specifically for ViVi production, and purchasing necessary U.S. roasting equipment. The result will be a significant cost-reduction in production, mainstream distribution, increased student distribution (paid from mainstream distribution revenue), a new roasting factory and a system of collecting groundnuts from approximately 7,500 Ghanaian farmers. That’s right, while Hershey champions a new commercial market, providing nutritional benefits to thousands of students, it also creates a supply chain of 7,500 Ghanaian farms, thus insuring its future and investing in Ghana’s.

This collaborative Hershey model could be the future for U.S. companies trying to gain market share in Africa, while also investing in the future of the economy they’re accessing. Speaking on Hershey Company’s Africa strategy, Jeff King says, “ViVi is a Hershey investment and comittment towards nourishing kids, providing Ghanian jobs and improving farmer income.”

This is the kind of work that makes me proud to be a public servant, and it’s a great testimonial to how international trade and the work of the U.S. Commercial Service can support U.S. companies and organizations, while also bringing benefit to developing economies.


Manufacturing USA Connects People, Ideas, and Technology to Advance Manufacturing

October 31, 2016

As we close out Manufacturing Month, SelectUSA is featuring a two-part guest blog from members of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG). The IIWG is responsible for coordinating activities across federal agencies that promote investment. You can read the first entry here.

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Mike Molnar is Director of the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office at Manufacturing USA.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opening the International Technology Manufacturing Show on September 12, 2016

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opening the International Technology Manufacturing Show on September 12, 2016.

Fall is not traditionally known as the season of renewal. However, this fall has represented exciting changes for our efforts to build a network of institutes dedicated to securing the nation’s future through manufacturing innovation, education, and collaboration. On Sept. 12, 2016, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker revealed the new public name of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation: Manufacturing USA. This program is a network of innovation institutes—each of which are public-private partnerships that bring together industry, government, and academia to solve critical challenges in advanced manufacturing.

Secretary Pritzker told the crowd at the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, “This name embodies our vision for a unified American manufacturing sector—where the brightest minds and the most innovative companies come together to develop the most cutting-edge technology in the world.”

Since the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology first recommended the creation of the network four years ago, nine manufacturing innovation institutes have been announced, with six more planned by 2017. The current institutes are operated by the Departments of Defense and Energy. The institutes’ membership rolls include more than 1,300 companies and they are working on more than 240 major research and development projects. They are teaming up with universities, community colleges, technical schools and industry associations to train the workforce—of today and tomorrow—to support the high-tech manufacturing of the future. Each institute is stimulating investment in its local region and building relationships that span the country.

A few short weeks after the secretary’s announcement on Manufacturing Day, October 7, we launched a new website. provides an industry-facing home for the stories of the network and its partners. As it grows, it will become a resource for the latest news on the institutes and advanced manufacturing.

And there are many stories to tell already. Manufacturing USA leverages federal funding to catalyze greater private investment of resources and expertise in key national manufacturing areas. More than $600 million in federal funding has been matched by more than $1.3 billion in non-federal investment. That high level of non-federal investment tells us that we are on the right path to reach one of the program’s goals—to foster sustainable institutes that are independent of federal funding within five to seven years.

Manufacturing USA shows why the United States—already a world leader in manufacturing and innovation—is the best country in the world to invest. Investors and international firms know that when they choose to invest in U.S. manufacturing, they’re selecting a thriving, dynamic market. Foreign direct investment (FDI) holds a significant position in the U.S. manufacturing industry: $1.2 trillion. This FDI directly supports almost 2.5 million U.S. jobs.

Manufacturing USA connects people, ideas, and technology to advance U.S. manufacturing; it demonstrates America’s dedication to remaining on the cutting edge of innovation. Each institute coordinates research that propel new products to market, benefiting communities across the country and helping keep the United States globally competitive in the 21st century.

Follow SelectUSA and Manufacturing USA on Twitter and join the conversation at #MFGmonth.


ITA Official Celebrates Innovative Technology in PA as Part of Manufacturing Day 2016

October 7, 2016

Laura Taylor-Kale Is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing at the International Trade Administration 

Today, the International Trade Administration celebrates Manufacturing Day 2016. The day provides an opportunity for U.S. manufacturers to open their doors to demonstrate the innovation and creativity of 21st century manufacturing. ITA provides critical programs and services to businesses across the country to expand export growth opportunities.

The first stop on my journey to celebrate Manufacturing Day 2016 was to DMI Companies in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1978, DMI is a leading manufacturer of HVAC accessories. DMI supplies commercial, industrial, and residential HVAC markets through a network of domestic and international distributors. The President and CEO of DMI Companies, Ray Yeager, serves on Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Manufacturing Council. Council members advise the Secretary on policies and programs that effect manufacturing, and recommend ways to ensure that the United States remains the preeminent destination for investment in manufacturing across the globe.

Ray and the DMI team were enthusiastic about Manufacturing Day 2016. They believe it is critical to invest in our youth and emphasized that any day can be Manufacturing Day! DMI Companies gave presentations to local students on the life cycle of its products, from R&D through distribution to the patent process. DMI’s Engineers also demonstrated the design and cut processes of sub-components using state-of-the-art software and laser cutter.

I spoke to the students and community leaders on the important role that manufacturing plays in our economy, the future of manufacturing, and the profitable careers it offers. It’s these very students that could end up becoming the future explorers, investigators, makers, integrators, designers, producers, solvers, and advisors of DMI Companies and other innovative manufacturing businesses. Thus it is important that we continue to inspire the next generation of workers, and show them what modern manufacturing really looks like.

The next stop on my journey to celebrate Manufacturing Day is Raleigh, NC. Stay tuned!


The State of American Manufacturing Measured by the Census Bureau

October 7, 2016

Cross-blog post by Robert Bernstein, International Trade Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau

For more than 200 years — since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in America — the U.S. Census Bureau has described the state of America’s manufacturing. It all began as part of the 1810 Census, when U.S. Marshals collecting the population data also asked the first questions on manufacturing establishments. U.S. manufacturing has changed since then, when the landscape was dotted with textile mills. Today, the nation is celebrating this evolution with its annual observance of Manufacturing Day, when manufacturers across the country open their doors to showcase their modern manufacturing to America to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.


U.S. Census Bureau Graphic on Manufacturing in the United States

Since that first economic census in 1810, the Census Bureau has evolved its measurement of manufacturers. A wide range of data products give users a detailed look at the nation’s manufacturing industries. These products differ in geographic coverage, industry detail, how frequently they are released and what is included. Our most recent statistics, from the Annual Survey of Manufactures, show that U.S. manufacturers employed 11.0 million people and generated receipts of $5.9 trillion in 2014.

The most frequently published Census Bureau manufacturing statistics are the monthly full and advance reports on manufacturers’ shipments, inventories and orders, and manufacturing and trade inventory and sales. As economic indicators, these datasets have the potential to move financial markets. Economists and other analysts rely on the indicators to measure the current health of manufacturing and predict future business trends.

Our most geographically detailed data source, the economic census, is conducted every five years and provides data for years ending in 2 and 7. It includes statistics on the number of establishments, employees and value of shipments for cities and towns as small as 2,500 people, covering detailed industries down to the 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) level. It includes statistics for states, counties, metro areas and more than 5,000 communities nationwide.

The economic census thus enables you to examine long-term manufacturing trends in communities across the country. For example, in Palo Alto, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, you’ll see that the number of computer and electronic product manufacturing plants with at least one employee rose from 19 in 2007 to 22 in 2012. Employment climbed from 5,440 in 2007 to 6,158 in 2012. Their value of shipments totaled $2.7 billion in 2012.

If you’re looking for statistics that are timely but still local, then try the annual County Business Patterns series for numbers on establishments and employees. You won’t find data for places such as Palo Alto, but you will find them for Santa Clara County, Calif., where Palo Alto is located. Industry detail is also provided down to the 6-digit NAICS level. In 2014, the county was home to 2,306 employer manufacturing establishments, employing 85,253 people, including nearly 300 establishments that made semiconductors and other electronic components.

Our statistics show that manufacturers can be found in every corner of America, including perhaps the nation’s best-known ZIP code, (Beverly Hills) 90210, which according to a related dataset (ZIP Code Business Patterns), had 22 manufacturing establishments in 2014.

You may be surprised to learn that there are more manufacturers without employees than with them. Indeed, some manufacturing businesses are operated from home, such as those that produce handbags, awnings and wood screen doors. Another dataset, Nonemployer Statistics, reveals that there were more than 350,000 manufacturing establishments without any employees in 2014. By comparison, there were only 292,543 employer establishments in manufacturing, according to County Business Patterns.

Another key component of the Census Bureau’s manufacturing statistics program is the Annual Survey of Manufactures. This survey provides key measures of manufacturing activity for the nation and each state in non-economic census years. Statistics are available for not only employment and receipts, but also topics such as fringe benefits, employer’s cost for health insurance, cost of materials, total inventories and operating expenses.

What really sets the Annual Survey of Manufactures apart from other datasets, though, is that it also offers statistics on the production of specific manufactured goods. Through this survey, you can track how consumer habits are changing by tracing the production of certain goods through the years. The survey shows, for instance, that the value of shipments for yogurt (excluding frozen yogurt) rose from $2.5 billion in 2004 to $6.2 billion in 2014.

Another data source, the Business Dynamics Statistics examines establishment births and deaths each year. The Survey of Business Owners, a part of the economic census, and its annual counterpart, the new Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, examine the demographics of people who own manufacturing businesses.

The 2014 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs showed, for instance, that 26,607 manufacturing firms with employees, or 10.6 percent, were minority-owned.

Not only does Census Bureau data give you a picture of America’s manufacturing but it can also paint a picture of the workers in those industries. According to the American Community Survey, for example, in 2014, 28.8 percent of these workers were women.

The types of information we gather from America’s manufacturers includes much more: their exports, e-commerce shipments, R &D (research and development) and innovation,capital expenditures, plant capacity utilization, finances, job creation and worker turnover,organizational practices, pollution abatement costs, and energy consumption.

For a complete list and more details on the sources of manufacturing data from the Census Bureau, visit our manufacturing home page.

Happy Manufacturing Day!