Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Cups and Conversations: How a Coffee Chat Built a Global Networking Powerhouse for Women in Trade

March 7, 2022

Camille Richardson is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa

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How did a chat over coffee between a Kenyan businesswoman and women business owners in the United States become an initiative helping hundreds of women-owned U.S. companies export abroad?

Headshot of Camille Richardson, ITA's Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa.
Camille Richardson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa

Last year, my team and I met with a Kenyan businesswoman who built a thriving cosmetics business using products imported from the United States. Listening to her speak, I realized that she had much to share with other women business owners, and knew that real stories, told by an entrepreneur herself, could be valuable to other women navigating similar challenges. As such, I worked with my team to invite several businesswomen across the United States to listen in on the conversation, and it was a great success. Little did we know, this informal virtual “coffee chat” would become the model that launched Women Empowered Leave Legacies through Trade and Investment, or WELLTI, for short. Since then, the WELLTI program has hosted coffee chats across nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Each event boasts over a hundred participants and the attendance of CEOs and executives.

One of the keys to business success is a strong network. WELLTI connects women from around the world with one another, inspiring U.S.-based women entrepreneurs to explore trade opportunities in the Middle East and Africa. Helping women grow resilient businesses is vitally important to creating equitable economic opportunity; globally, women are more likely to face disadvantages starting businesses and are less likely to be entrepreneurs or corporate leaders. Since companies that trade are more resilient, grow faster, and have better bottom lines, encouraging women to trade helps women succeed economically.

Today and tomorrow, Commerce will host our inaugural WELLTI Summit in partnership with OWIT, WeConnect International, and a host of bureaus within the Department.  This year’s Summit is particularly special as it is in conjunction with the Trade Winds 2022 Business Forum in Dubai, UAE and features ITA’s first woman Under Secretary, Marisa Lago, to help us kick off the festivities and celebrate International Women’s Day! Tune into the livestream and see how Commerce is putting resources to work for women and businesses in underserved communities. Programming includes hearing from the Commercial Law Development Program, the Business Council of International Understanding, and Women-In-Tech on topics ranging from commercial rights of a company to women’s role in the digital transformation, to the importance of technology in business.

Illustration of text that reads: "Women Empowered Leave Legacies Through Trade & Investment (WELLTI) @ Trade Winds Middle East and Africa, Dubai, UAE, March 2022. Learn more: #TradeWinds2022 #WELLTI [social media hashtags]. Background illustration is of the Dubai skyline.

We are confident that WELLTI will continue to serve our organization well as it expands its reach globally with WELLTI 2.0 spreading to new regions around the world and with a new focus: capacity building for businesswomen across the spectrum. Women business owners who participate in WELLTI programs are ready and eager to trade. ITA will deliver capacity building, facilitate access to networks and capital, and provide market intelligence to empower women to grow their businesses on a global scale. To learn about upcoming programs, visit


Harnessing the Power of Global Markets to Empower Women: Webinars this Month to Help You Go Global

March 4, 2022

Abigail Lantz is an International Trade Specialist with ITA’s Office of Trade Promotion Coordination Committee (TPCC) Secretariat.

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

Women in Global Business webinar series banner with image of several women posing together and U.S. Commercial Service and The W Marketplace logos

When women trade, women succeed economically. With 95 percent of world consumers and 80 percent of world purchasing power outside of the United States, international trade is an untapped resource for women-owned businesses. Women-owned companies that trade and export earn more, create more jobs, stay in business longer and are more resilient to financial shocks than those relying exclusively on domestic markets. Like closing the wage gap and breaking the glass ceiling, encouraging women business owners and entrepreneurs to trade across borders is key to achieving economic equality for women.

Women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs often face barriers to growth based on gender discrimination. Investors are less likely to bet on businesses owned by women, particularly those owned by women of color. Encouraging more women-owned businesses to trade has massive potential to grow the U.S. economy. More than 20 percent of employer businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, a figure critical to U.S. GDP. If women are to achieve economic parity, exporting is a proven strategy for success.

In honor of Women’s History Month, ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service and TheWMarketplace, a platform hosting women entrepreneurs and business owners to sell, network, and develop their businesses, are launching a four-part webinar series titled “Why Export? Stories from Women Who Went Global” on March 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. The webinars will feature informal conversations with successful women business owners in the U.S. about their experiences exporting and will train women on skills essential to exporting, from digital marketing and e-commerce to navigating overseas markets  Anyone can sign up for the free, virtual program.

When women-owned businesses export, it leads to better bottom lines and expanded economic growth at home. Supporting women business owners is even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which dramatically impacted the ability of women to compete economically. Throughout this month, the U.S. Commercial Service and TheWMarketplace hope to empower women by giving them the tools they need to pursue global growth opportunities. Empowering women to transform their businesses and their economic futures through exporting is an important step towards closing the economic gender gap, ensuring that women excel in business and entrepreneurship.


Black History Month: How Commerce Assists Black Entrepreneurs and Innovators

February 25, 2022

Joint blog by the Minority Business Development Agency, the International Trade Administration, and the Bureau of Industry and Security

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

Throughout the year, the Department of Commerce provides valuable assistance to inventors and minority-owned business enterprises across the United States, including small and medium-size firms that are important source of revenue and jobs in communities everywhere. Black History Month provides a unique opportunity to celebrate their success and learn about the national and international accomplishments of many Black innovators and entrepreneurs.

An illustration of text that reads "Commerce Celebrates Black History Month: Assisting Black Entrepreneurs and Innovators"

One such Black business owner seeing success today is Gregory Bush, Jr., President and CEO of KFA, Inc., a Chicago-area company that specializes in technology solutions for smart cities, capital construction, facilities management, and business continuity. In 2020, Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) honored KFA with its Minority Innovative Technology Firm of the Year Award for its work with the Chicago Transit Authority. As a result of its successes domestically, KFA was inspired to develop new technology product lines and further their services internationally. Through Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), KFA has participated in U.S. trade missions to Dubai, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Greg Bush, Jr is not unlike his historical predecessor, Granville Woods. Born just before the Civil War, Granville Woods was a self-taught mechanical and electrical engineer who developed nearly 60 patents during his lifetime. One of his most famous patents, the multiplex telegraph, allowed trains to communicate with train stations by both voice and telegraph. It increased safety on the railways by allowing telegraphs to also be sent from trains on the move. Innovations in the tech sector enable businesses to streamline business practices and advance the ways people communicate across time and space. From Granville to Bush, the work done by these tech innovators in the Black community have paved the way in creating solutions to advance business practices.

If you lead or own a minority-owned business, the Commerce Department is here to provide you the resources and help you achieve success. We have several bureaus to help navigate you each step of the way.

  • The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. Minority business enterprises can access a variety of technical assistance, including access to capital, contracts, and markets by contacting a local MBDA Business CenterMBDA Specialty Centers provide industry specific services including advanced manufacturing, business development services to provide opportunities to access global markets and a federal procurement center which specializes in connecting minority businesses to federal procurement officials and prime contractors. MBDA grants also funds projects like Enterprising Women of ColorInner City Innovation Hubs, and programs at minority serving institutions. Learn more about these projects and programs here.
  • Are you interested in expanding internationally? The International Trade Administration (ITA) offers market intelligence, business matching, and trade missions to help you explore new markets. Connect with a trade expert. ITA hosts various trade missions throughout the year that introduce U.S. companies to foreign markets. This year, ITA will host a trade mission geared towards U.S. minority-owned companies interested in expanding in Southwestern Europe (Italy, Portugal and Spain). Interested companies should consider applying for this executive-level Minority-Business Focused Trade Mission, held from May 15-21, 2022. Over the course of the week, participants will connect with U.S. government leaders and commercial teams working in these markets, network with U.S. companies doing business in this region, and take part in customized one-on-one business appointments with pre-screened prospective buyers, agents, distributors, and joint venture partners.
  • Are you interested in getting started with exporting? The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has resources to help you understand the rules and our counselors are standing by to answer questions. BIS also offers seminars that introduce the export control regulations for dual – use and less sensitive military and offers guidance on creating and maintaining export compliance programs. These services are invaluable to a business just getting started in exports.

The U.S. Department of Commerce mission is to promote job creation and economic growth. The resources available from MBDA, ITA, and BIS can be important tools to help minority and black-owned businesses thrive. In the coming year, we hope that these services will help even more Black-owned businesses like KFA start up, succeed, grow, and make a difference in their communities.


Black Inventors and Entrepreneurs – Past, Present, and Future

February 21, 2022

Joint blog by ITA and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog as part of its National Black History Month series.

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

Every February, we celebrate the achievements and history of African Americans. Black History Month reminds us that the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are critical to the success of the Department of Commerce’s mission. It is also an opportunity to spotlight some of the many inspiring stories and successes of Black inventors and Black-owned businesses. Bureaus across the Department of Commerce, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the International Trade Administration (ITA), are committed to the domestic and international success of these innovators, entrepreneurs, and minority-owned businesses, which are so critical to American competitiveness and driving economic growth.

Intellectual property (IP) protection is a key asset to help entrepreneurs raise capital, commercialize their inventions, and provide even more innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. Here are just a few examples of Black inventors and entrepreneurs whose innovation and creativity, and the IP behind it, can be an inspiration to us all and make the world a better place.  

  • With unwavering perseverance, Percy Julian fought against segregation and other challenges to become a leading innovator in synthetic chemistry. His numerous inventions range from the fire retardant Aerofoam to treatments for glaucoma and rheumatoid arthritis. He was granted over 130 patents during his lifetime and is a celebrated innovator who broke down barriers for future scientists from underrepresented groups.
Headshot of Terry Davis, founder of Brilliant You Denim, standing against a brick wall.
Terry Davis of Brilliant You Denim (Courtesy of Terry Davis)
  • Brilliant You Denim is a North Carolina-based business founded by Terry Davis. She is the first Black female denim manufacturer in the U.S. The success of Davis’ business meant overcoming the monumental task of entering and competing in the multi-billion-dollar denim industry. She tackled this challenge by drawing on problem-solving skills developed during her career as an electrical engineer. One of her top priorities was to obtain a design patent for her jeans’ enhancement innovation. The company now holds 11 patents, with several more pending, and has trademarked its brand. She made it a point to set up the company’s manufacturing facilities in Greensboro, North Carolina, because she believed in the vision of rebuilding manufacturing in America. After growing the domestic business, Davis is now working with ITA’s U.S. Export Assistance Center in Raleigh to start exporting her products to Canada and Mexico.
  • After 13 seasons of playing in the NFL, Shawn Springs founded Windpact, a company based in Leesburg, Virginia, focused on impact protection. He set out with a mission “to be the most advanced impact protection company in the world, to make everyday lives safer” after experiencing the effects of concussions firsthand. That knowledge, combined with the insights gained from a component of an infant car seat, led him to build a company that uses patented Crash Cloud™ technology to protect athletes, soldiers, and automobile passengers from traumatic brain injuries.
  • Arlyne Simon is a patent-holding inventor and entrepreneur. As a young graduate student at the University of Michigan, she worked on a team that created a technology for a blood test that detects when cancer patients are rejecting a bone marrow transplant. After graduating and earning her Ph.D., she built a successful career as a biomedical engineer. Based on her desire to increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, Simon was inspired to write a children’s book series featuring a young inventor and has also launched an online program to connect Black middle school girls to mentors in engineering.  

Commerce Resources to Help Your Business

From pro bono assistance programs to free training seminars, the USPTO provides resources to inventors and entrepreneurs to help them navigate the process of obtaining a patent or trademark. This month, don’t miss the Black Innovation and Entrepreneurship series on February 17 and February 24. The events will feature a number of special guests including Lanny Smoot, Disney Research Fellow and Imagineer recently featured in the USPTO’s Journeys of Innovation story, “As if by magic.”  

If you run a minority-owned enterprise that has never exported or are looking to expand your exports to new markets, ITA is here to help you get started. The online questionnaire can help you assess your company’s export readiness. The research center contains data, research, and analysis covering industries and markets around the world. Country commercial guides and a market diversification tool can help you identify potential new markets. ITA can help you tap into new markets and offers in-person and virtual events and services to help you in your export journey.  

Also, for U.S. minority-owned companies interested in expanding in Southwestern Europe (Italy, Portugal, and Spain), please consider applying for ITA’s executive-level Minority-Business Focused Trade Mission, May 15-21. Over the course of the week, participants will connect with U.S. government leaders and commercial teams working in these markets, network with U.S. companies doing business in this region, and take part in customized one-on-one business appointments with pre-screened prospective buyers, agents, distributors, and joint venture partners. 


U.S. Trade in 2021: U.S. Exporters on Road to Recovery

February 11, 2022

Dig Deeper with ITA’s Data Tools

Anne Flatness, Eak Gautam, Amanda Reynolds and Ian Saccomanno are International Economists in the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis

Still dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was a challenging but hopeful year for U.S. trade. The publication this week of last year’s trade data is a good opportunity to reflect on the remarkable resilience of U.S. exporters.

Overall, exports of goods and services in 2021 recovered to pre-pandemic levels, while imports exceeded theirs. Thanks to data from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Census Bureau, ITA can paint a larger story of how and where U.S. international trade recovered, and analyze what obstacles remain.

U.S. Trade in Goods and Services

Two charts are shown with trade data patterns from 2017 through 2021. The left chart shows U.S. goods exports, imports, and the trade balance for each year through 2021. U.S. goods imports were $2.9 trillion, U.S. goods exports were $1.8 trillion, and the goods trade deficit was $1.1 trillion in 2021. The right chart shows U.S. services exports, imports, and the trade balance for each year through 2021. U.S. services exports were $767 billion, U.S. services imports were $535 billion, and the trade surplus was $232 billion in 2021.
Figure 1: Total Goods and Services Exports, 2017-2021, ITA Annual Trade Infographic

Looking first at ITA’s annual trade infographic, we can see a divergence between goods and services trade. Goods trade includes physical products such as household products, cars, and food, while services trade includes economic activities such as financial services or transportation. Goods trade was strong across the board; exports and imports both reached new annual records, and all major export sectors were up from 2020. While services trade also increased, exports and imports of services continued to lag behind 2019 levels due to international travel. According to ITA’s National Travel and Tourism Office, both visitation to the United States and U.S. travel abroad increased from 2020 to 2021; however, travel has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.  

Two bar charts show U.S. export changes by sector from 2020 to 2021 for both goods and services. The left bar chart, Goods Export Changes, shows the following changes: Other Goods increased $11.8 billion, Automotive increased $15.7 billion, Food & Beverages increased $25.9 billion, Consumer Goods increased $47.3 billion, Capital Goods increased $59.3 billion, and Industrial Supplies increased $169.6 billion. The right bar chart, Services Export Changes, shows the following changes: Travel declined $4.5 billion, Maintenance & Repair declined $1.4 billion, Construction increased $0.6 billion, Insurance Services increased $1.2 billion, Government increased $1.5 billion, Telecom & Computer increased $2.0 billion, Personal & Cultural Services increased $2.8 billion, Charges for IP increased $6.9 billion, Transport increased $7.2 billion, Financial Services increased $17.7 billion, and Other Business Services increased $26.8 billion.
Figure 2: Export Changes by Sector, 2020-2021, ITA Annual Trade Infographic

Deeper Dive: U.S. Goods Trade by Product

Amidst supply and demand shake-ups from COVID-19, as well as other shocks like the Texas winter storms and Hurricane Ida, trade disruptions were common in 2021. These disruptions had significant, at times divergent, impacts on major U.S. trade sectors. For example, looking across broad industries, we see that Transportation Equipment, which was the top export category for more than a decade, was displaced by Chemicals and Computer and Electronic Products in 2021.

An examination of the sub-industry detail in TradeStats Express reveals reasons for this shakeup. Transportation Equipment exports were hampered by the continued weakness of the Aerospace industry, mostly in civilian airplanes. The contrasting increase in Chemicals is mainly the result of rising Pharmaceutical and Medicine exports related to the pandemic, while the increase in Computers reflects increased Semiconductor exports, which are in high demand globally. Oil and Gas exports were also up sharply, driven by rising energy prices in 2021.

Imports show a similar shakeup. At the broad industry level, Computer & Electronic Products, which displaced Transportation Equipment as the top sector in 2020, retained that position in 2021 due to continued high demand for electronics as people worked and stayed at home. Primary Metals, which broke into the top 5 in 2020 as gold imports spiked, was displaced by Miscellaneous Manufactures in 2021 after gold demand moderated. Miscellaneous Manufactures includes Medical Equipment & Supplies such as Surgical Medical Instruments and Surgical Appliances & Supplies. 

Bar chart showing the top 5 U.S. import industry categories in 2021: Computers ($465 billion), Transportation Equipment ($364 billion), Chemicals ($313 billion), Machinery ($208 billion), and Miscellaneous Manufactures ($166 billion).
Figure 3: Top 5 U.S. Import Products, Ranking Based on 2021 Imports, TradeStats Express

U.S. Goods Trade by Partner

U.S. goods trade with many partners recovered in 2021, meeting or exceeding pre-pandemic levels. On the export side, the U.S. set new records with 57 partners, including Mexico, China, South Korea and Germany. The top four U.S. goods export destinations remained unchanged in 2021, and all exceeded their 2019 export levels. Canada and Mexico continued to be the largest markets for the United States, followed by China and Japan. 

Below these top four partners, however, relative rankings among U.S. partners varied. In 2021, South Korea passed the United Kingdom and Germany to become the United States’ fifth largest goods export market. Increased exports of Oil and Gas and Mechanical Machinery were the main reasons for this increase. In contrast, a lagging recovery in exports of Transportation Equipment hampered trade with the UK and Germany.

Map of the top 10 destinations for U.S. exports in 2021, with export values ranging from $40 billion to $307 billion. The top U.S. export destinations, in descending order, are Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Brazil, and India.
Figure 4: Top 10 Export Destinations in 2021, TradeStats Express

On the import side, while the top five partners did not change, there was significant movement outside the top five. Vietnam had exceptionally strong growth in recent years; between 2018 and 2021 its ranking among U.S. import partners rose from 12th to 6th. In addition to Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia have increased in relative import ranking. In all cases, trade with these partners has increased in sectors where we have seen declining trade from China, such as Computer and Electronic Products, Apparel, and Furniture. This is indicative of a broader trend of trade diversification away from China since 2018, where companies have reported that concerns including trade policies and the rising cost of labor have encouraged movement to new countries.

New Tool to Explore Annual and YTD Trade Data

You don’t have to be an economist to explore data yourself. Check out ITA’s recently modernized TradeStats Express (TSE), an interactive data visualization tool that industry researchers, policy analysts, and others can use to track trends in international trade at the national, state, product, and partner levels. Also, check out our Trade Data and Analysis tools page to learn about our other trade data research platforms. And don’t forget to bookmark our monthly trade analysis page for the most recent data releases!


Spotlight on Trade: Gabriela Zelaya, Global Education Team Leader

September 28, 2021

Gabriela Zelaya leads ITA’s Global Education Team

This post coincides with the Department of Commerce’s spotlight on National Hispanic Heritage Month.

As leader of the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Global Education Team, I work passionately to develop programs and strategies to promote the United States as the premier study destination for the world and grow educational service exports. I work alongside ITA trade experts and a host of partners – state governments, industry associations, universities, and others – to design and deliver innovative programs and resources to enable U.S. educational institutions and companies to succeed in global markets.

As a Hispanic woman, and first-generation college graduate, I’ve come a long way in my professional career. While growing up in Southern California, I struggled with cultural stereotypes brought on from being a Hispanic woman from a blue-collar, immigrant family. I knew education was the key to eliminating bias in the world; as such, I dedicated myself to learning and achieving in school. Education is the catalyst that has empowered me and opened doors to numerous opportunities.  

After graduating from two of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the nation, University of California, Riverside (a Hispanic-Serving Institution), and the University of Miami in Florida, with a Political Science degree and master’s in International Studies, these experiences led me to an internship with ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. embassy in Madrid, Spain. While there, I utilized my Spanish speaking skills to assist U.S. companies to discuss partnership agreements with distributors.

After interning in Spain, I returned to California and landed my first job at ITA’s field office in Sacramento in 2004. Since then, I have constantly been amazed and inspired by the ethnic diversity of colleagues around me and their commitment to collaboration, creativity, innovation, and equity. Whether working on minority serving export programs, economic empowerment activities for ethnically diverse communities, these colleagues have consistently demonstrated the utmost professionalism and respect for the clients they serve.

From a young age, my passion for supporting the Hispanic community’s economic empowerment has stemmed largely from my own experience growing up and seeing the dearth of Hispanic men and women leaders in America. I know that I am making an impact through my work to support Hispanic-Serving Institutions and businesses succeed globally. As we address the COVID-19 pandemic’s social and economic repercussions – which disproportionately affect minorities and Hispanic businesses – we should keep in mind the positive impact that global business opportunities can have on recovery and resilience.

International markets represent untapped potential for Hispanic-owned businesses. On average, businesses that export earn higher revenues, pay higher wages and are less likely to go out of business.  Going global can help minority businesses build more successful, resilient businesses while supporting themselves, their families, their workers, and their communities. ITA is working in earnest to support minority-owned business and Minority Serving Institutions to export globally.  

For those in the Hispanic community interested in expanding your business through international sales, please take advantage of ITA’s many low-cost services for U.S. small- and medium-size exporters. Go to and check out the growing number of free market intelligence reports from virtually every major market worldwide where the Commercial Service has offices. We also have resources for U.S. education organizations looking for education-specific programs, services or research. I also encourage businesses to find your local U.S. office of the Commercial Service and give our experts there a call to explore your options and brainstorm about best prospects.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to honor our Hispanic forerunners, but it also is an occasion to take stock of our current moment and create a more equitable future for Hispanics as individuals as economic actors. It is my great privilege to contribute to ITA’s mission and Hispanic economic empowerment efforts.

Gabriela Zelaya (center) and her International Trade Administration colleagues pose for a photo at the 2018 NAFSA: Association of International educators conference in Los Angeles, California.

U.S. Minority-Owned Enterprises a Centerpiece in the U.S. Economic Recovery

September 22, 2021

Nyamusi Igambi directs our U.S. Commercial Service’s Southern Network.

It goes without saying: the past 18 months have been truly transformative for the way we live and work. As an agency that tracks trade, we have observed COVID-19’s disruptions along every link in the business supply chain. We’ve also seen another important trend emerge from consumers writ large: increased support for small and medium minority-owned enterprises, including African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, and Native American owned businesses, as well as small and medium size firms run by women, veterans, and the LGBTQI+ community.

As the nation embarks on a historic economic recovery, the International Trade Administration (ITA) is uniquely positioned to help bolster the success of underserved communities by helping these businesses expand their global reach through exports. It’s a fact that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, which means the potential is high for U.S. companies to increase sales and create jobs by tapping into international markets. But the reality is that businesses in underserved communities often lack awareness of export opportunities or access to financing or trade resources. However, many minority-owned businesses actually have a competitive advantage due to cultural ties and oftentimes multilingual skills.

To help these businesses succeed at home and overseas, ITA recently launched the Global Diversity Export Initiative to better connect businesses with ITA trade experts in more than 100 U.S. cities and 75 international markets. This year alone, we have organized or participated in nearly 200 trade events to reach these important audiences, including the National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference this week. This annual event, hosted by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), attracts thousands of American and international attendees. We have several educational panels for businesses to learn about the benefits of exporting, and they can request virtual meetings to work directly with an international trade specialist to assess their export readiness. 

If you run a minority-owned enterprise that has never exported or are looking to expand your exports to new markets, here are 3 easy steps to help you get started:

1) Measure Your Export Readiness: On our website, if you are a new, expanding, or experienced exporter, you can assess your company’s readiness to enter your first international market, expand into additional markets, or take on more challenging high-growth markets with an online questionnaire. The assessment takes you through a series of questions. For example, does your company have a product or service that has successfully sold in the domestic market? A product or service’s success in the domestic market is a good indicator of its potential for export success. Company executives and entrepreneurs should ask themselves if they are willing and able to dedicate time and resources to the process. Another question it asks is does your company have an export business plan with defined goals and strategies? Experienced exporters should consider if their company has sufficient production capacity that can be committed to the export market. ITA is here to assist with you as you pursue your export strategy. 

2) Conduct Market Research and Analysis: Next, ITA provides trade data, research, and analysis covering industries and markets around the world in our online Research Center. Reports are written by our trade and industry experts, as well as our commercial diplomats in U.S. embassies and consulates overseas. Our Country Commercial Guides provide a broad overview of market opportunities and best prospects. Companies can also receive real-time market insights or request customized market research. We assist companies by providing information about the international regulatory and customs environments. We also help companies by supporting their international marketing efforts. Check out the Market Diversification Tool to identify potential new export markets using your current trade patterns.

3) Connect with ITA: ITA staff are here to help companies navigate the export process. Every year, we offer numerous in-person and virtual events to help companies access global markets and international prospects through virtual webinars and matchmaking, as well as trade shows and trade missions. U.S. firms can also utilize our virtual matchmaking tools such as our International Partner Search, as well as conduct background checks on prospective partners thorough the International Company Profile. Learn more about a full suite of services online.

As the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, we must promote equitable growth and eliminate social and economic structural barriers to opportunity wherever they exist. The global affinity for Made in USA products and services is second to none, and ITA remains absolutely committed to helping accelerate an inclusive economic recovery by helping minority-owned companies build back better through exports.


Investing in America: An Expanded SelectUSA Guide for Global Companies

May 25, 2021

Bill Burwell is the Acting Executive Director of the Department’s SelectUSA Program

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

When most people think about trade, they probably conjure images of containers shipped across oceans or trucked along highways. It’s true that America is a major exporter of goods and our ports are abuzz with activity around the clock. We’re also a major source of foreign direct investment—and while this trade term may not spark a visual, chances are high that you live in or near a community that benefits from it.

Simply put, foreign direct investment (FDI) is inbound investment into the United States from global companies. For the world, the United States is a great place to do business. We have the laws, the expertise, the work ethic and a world class workforce which businesses need to succeed. In fact, the U.S. has ranked #1 for nine years in a row as the top destination for foreign business investment. At the Department of Commerce, we have a program that specializes in attracting FDI—SelectUSA—and since its inception, it has facilitated more than $84 billion in inbound investment, creating and/or retaining over 106,000 U.S. jobs.

Some foreign investors may be experienced at entering multiple markets and extensively resourced to do so. Others may be exploring opening their first international location and in the early stages of information discovery. Either way, SelectUSA has a suite of services to help all types of investors, and offers counseling, introductions to U.S. economic development organizations, assistance navigating the U.S. federal regulatory system, and finally, products and events to help those investors better understand the U.S market.

One such example of the resources that SelectUSA has developed to assist potential investors is the SelectUSA Investor Guide, which was first launched in 2020.  Authored by competitively selected subject matter experts in their respective fields, the chapters in this guide are designed to give investors an overview of key topics essential to successful investing in the United States. The first edition of the guide covered topics such as an Overall Investment Checklist, Immigration, Business Structure, Taxes, Workforce and FDI Restrictions.

This year we proudly release 5 new additional chapters on the following topic areas:

Each of these chapters will inspire panel conversations at the upcoming 2021 SelectUSA Investment Summit, to be held virtually June 7-11, 2021, and which will be hosted by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. The Investment Summit is designed for investors of all sizes – including established multinationals, small or medium-sized enterprises, and high-growth start-ups. The event will showcase investment opportunities from every (virtual) corner of the United States, as high-profile business and government leaders share insights on the latest business trends. Participants will find the practical tools, information, and connections they need to move investments forward.

We are thrilled to be a part of May’s World Trade Month celebrations, and even more excited to welcome FDI that helps to create export-supported jobs into the United States. If you are interested in learning more, information about the Investment Summit, including registration details, visit It isn’t too late to sign up, and we hope to see you there!


It’s Time for Women to Get Loud

March 30, 2021

Tricia Van Orden is Deputy Director of ITA’s Trade Promotion Coordination Committee Secretariat

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Make your voice – and your business – heard around the world. The International Trade Administration (ITA) is the only sound system you need. Did you know that women-owned businesses that export are, on average, 3.5 times more productive than women-owned business that don’t? What about the fact that women-owned businesses that export typically employ more workers, pay higher wages, and report higher-than-average sales? This means that women who export can drive growth and economic success.[1] With export experts in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 70 countries around the world, we’ll amp up the volume, and international sales will sound like music to your ears. Read on for a guide to take your business global.

Silhouette image of women holding megaphone.


  • Exporting is a great strategy to grow a business, but to grow smartly and purposefully, you have to dedicate time and resources. An initial assessment of your exporting needs and capabilities should be your first step.
  • Integrate exporting into your overall business plan. Once you’ve completed an assessment, an export plan helps you understand the facts, constraints, and goals around your international effort. Use it to create specific objectives, decide on implementation schedules, and mark milestones of your success.  It can also motivate your team to reach goals.


  • Start by doing research on potential markets. Free market research is available through the Country Commercial Guides and Top Market Reports.
  • Census data can be used to track where similar products are already being sold.
  • Check which countries have free trade agreements with the United States. These could potentially result in lower customs duty rates for your goods and could be an excellent first foreign market for your business.
  • If available, apply for funding from a STEP grant awardee in your State.


  • Develop a global web presence. This may be the first point of contact between you and your buyer.
  • Participate in  a trade show. Trade shows are a great way to present your products and services to a wide audience, get trade leads, meet potential buyers or partners, do competition research, and leverage U.S. or state government support.  
  • Use match-making/international partner search services provided by the U.S. Government


  • Work with your bank for financing and insurance solutions.
  • Research methods of payment. Depending on your business and products you may be able to offer letters of credit or other payment options to your foreign buyers.
  • Research available financing options through the U.S. government and other private lenders.
  • Get bank references and background checks on potential foreign buyers. As with any business transaction, due diligence is essential.


  • If you haven’t already, determine if your product needs a U.S. export license. Thankfully most products don’t need one, but it is your legal responsibility to obtain one if necessary.
  • Check your documents. Different countries and markets require different documents to export. Some of these documents may certify that your product meets certain criteria while others will show unit price and insurance.
  • Shop around for the best shipping rates. Different companies have different rates and available services. Research the most cost-effective way to get your goods efficiently, securely, and legally to your new international customers.

Join the orchestra of women-owned companies that have struck their export chord, and let our worldwide network and subject-matter-experts help you pursue your goal for going global, whether it’s to begin exporting for the first time, to expand your current export operations, or to strategize overcoming barriers and breaking into new markets. Check out or reach out to your local U.S. Export Assistance Center to find out how ITA can help you and your business strike the export chord that turns you into an Exporting Rock Star.



The International Trade Administration’s Advisory Committee Gets Firsthand Look at Supply Chain Competitiveness in Laredo, Texas

November 7, 2019

By Rachel Minogue, International Trade Specialist in the Office of Supply Chain, Professional and Business Services

Last month, members of the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness (ACSCC) embarked on a tour of the commercial activities at the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas on October 16-17.

In March of this year, Laredo rose to become the largest port, or commercial hub, in the United States. Laredo is setting impressive records in recent years with over $100 billion in U.S. exports processed in 2018, a first for any U.S. port. As leading professional and academic experts in value chains, ACSCC members were eager to witness the impressive supply chain efficiencies at work in Laredo’s customs district, which handles over one-third of all U.S. trade with Mexico.

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ACSCC members outside Kansas City Southern’s historic Southern Belle passenger train

During the Laredo visit, Committee Members participated in a three-hour rail trip on a
Kansas City Southern (KCS) train, showcasing the role of transportation in the supply chain and its importance to bilateral trade.

Kansas City Southern President and CEO Patrick Ottensmeyer stressed the importance of U.S.-Mexico commercial ties for the rail industry, stating that “Kansas City Southern sees significant new opportunities for growth in trade between the United States and Mexico, including increased exports from the United States of commodities that are much needed and desired in Mexico.”

In addition, the group toured Werner Enterprises, the largest cross-border transportation provider to and from Mexico, and the federal inspection stations for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at both the World Trade Bridge and the Laredo International Airport.

The structures in place for processing and innovating U.S. and Mexican customs procedures at the border impressed many members of the ACSCC. This includes Elizabeth Merritt, Managing Director of Cargo Services at Airlines for America, who added, “we strongly support the cargo pre-clearance initiative at the Laredo Airport, which leverages the bilateral customs partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, streamlines the movement of American exports, and boosts the competitiveness of the North American supply chain while maximizing resources to ensure trade compliance. As a large amount of air freight also begins or ends with a road transport segment, we also support the truck pre-clearance work being done at the World Trade Bridge.”

Patric at ACSCC 101619

Commerce’s Patrick Wilson  (left) and KCS’ Brian Hancock at IBC Headquarters.

While in Laredo, the ACSCC also held its quarterly meeting, which included discussions on the benefits of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The meetings were hosted by the International Bank of Commerce (IBC), headquartered in Laredo. The Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Liaison Director Patrick Wilson, led ITA’s delegation to Laredo and highlighted the prospective importance of USMCA to the ACSCC members, emphasizing, “once approved by Congress, the USMCA will rebalance trade on our continent to once again benefit American producers by eliminating red tape at the border that often hinders small- and medium-sized businesses.”

Mr. Ottensmeyer seconded the need for congressional passage of USMCA, as he stated that “approval of USMCA is essential to provide clarity and structure to support investment and growth in commodities throughout the United States. This investment and growth will benefit both countries, creating jobs and economic growth on both sides of the border.”

The ACSCC is tasked with providing detailed advice to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on national freight infrastructure policy to support U.S. supply chain and export competitiveness.  As part of their mission, the ACSCC visits areas of supply chain importance to better understand their activities across the United States. Previous visits include the Port of Los Angeles, in California; the UPS headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky; the Boeing manufacturing plant in Seattle, Washington; and the Port of Houston, in Texas.

For more information on the International Trade Administration’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness, please visit our website.