Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


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

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

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.

ACSCC train shot Laredo blog 110719

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.


The Next Investment Advisory Council is Here

August 13, 2019

Samuel Biddick is an intern at SelectUSA

Representatives from more than two dozen economic development organizations and business executives from across the United States will soon provide something invaluable to the federal government: their expertise on how the Administration can best attract and utilize the largest amount of foreign direct investment in the world. Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced appointments to the department’s Investment Advisory Council (IAC). This group of 25 doesn’t only represents a diverse array of real-world business insight and experience; It represents the Department of Commerce’s continued commitment to American competitiveness.  

board meetingThe Council advises the Secretary of Commerce on strategies and proposals to ensure that the United States remains the world’s preeminent destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). This includes how policy should be developed, adapted, and expanded based on real market conditions. The diverse areas of expertise represented within the Council have allowed past appointees to make policy recommendations regarding issues including infrastructure investment priorities, improving U.S. workforce development initiatives, and creating/improving digital tools to support economic development – all to ensure that the United States remains the best place in the world to do business.

FDI is critically important to the nation’s continued economic growth and prosperity. It supports more than 14 million U.S. jobs and is responsible for $370 billion of U.S. goods exports. With a total FDI stock of $4.34 trillion, no other country attracts more business investment. The Department of Commerce aims to keep it that way. That’s why these 25 experts appointed to the IAC represent state and regional economic development teams, and global and domestic businesses from multiple industry sectors from across the United States. Their unique insight and recommendations will inform and strengthen the administration’s open-investment policy.

The new IAC will hold its first meeting soon, allowing new appointees to continue and build on the work of the first Council. We look forward to their recommendations and insight. For more information, including names and updates, please visit


“Exporting Mechanics Webinar Series II” for Growing Exporters

August 2, 2019

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

The U.S. Commercial Service and NCBFAA are proud to announce the second webinar series on exporting mechanics. It is focused on educational terms, definitions, and knowledge to assist the “intermediate” or “more advanced” exporter with their U.S. Commercial Service logoexporting questions, situations and interactions.

Listed below is the schedule for the series:

Best Practices for Export Compliance/Drafting a Compliance Policy – August 13, 2019
Learn about trade barriers as well as export restrictions.  The exporter will know how to comply with U.S. laws and what they can and cannot export.

Dealing with Suppliers, Partners and Buyers – September 17, 2019
Learn about working with suppliers to get origin documentation correct as well as working with foreign distributors on the United States export law.

Advanced Letters of Credit – October 8, 2019
Learn about the letter of credit and how it is effectively used to avoid discrepancies, and what the role of the banks is in the letter of credit process.

Duty Drawback and Refunds – November 12, 2019
Learn about the benefits of duty drawback and refunds as it applies to more complicated transactions.

ECCN Classification Numbers – December 10, 2019
Learn about ECCN Classification Numbers and how to use them more efficiently in international trade.

Commodity Jurisdiction – January 14, 2020
Learn what “Commodity Jurisdiction” is and how it affects exporters.

Drop Shipments and Routed Transactions – February 18, 2020
Learn how drop shipments and routed transactions are handled as a supply chain management method and how this can be an advantage in exporting.

Cultural Sensitivity Program – March 10, 2020
Learn about cultural norms, traveling overseas, cultural understanding with negotiations, and the duty of care for employees.

ACE Export Reports for Compliance – April 14, 2020
Learn how to cover the ACE reporting that will assist in international transactions and staying compliant.

The cost per participant per webinar is $25. One CCS/CES credit is earned per hour of webinar.  If you have any questions, please contact Linda Abbruzzese at



U.S. Commercial Service Supports Genesis Water Technologies in Pursuing Project on Sustainable Practices in Ecuador

April 17, 2019

Mindi Hertzog is Senior International Trade Specialist at ITA’s Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center

On Tuesday, April 9, 2019, thanks in part to the export promotion assistance provided by the U.S. Commercial Service, Genesis Water Technologies (GWT) and construction partner, Hormac Civil Engineering, met with government officials from Portoviejo, Ecuador, to solidify a contract for the building and refurbishment of the Portoviejo Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant serves a population of over 300,000 citizens and through the innovative solutions offered by of GWT, Portoviejo will meet its wastewater quality needs with integrated sustainable practices in place for their future.logo

Genesis Water Technologies is based in Maitland, Florida and has additional offices located throughout the U.S., Philippines, Uganda, and Chile. GWT serves industries and communities across the world in meeting their water quality challenges through advanced treatment solutions and services. They are committed to developing and implementing sustainable business practices that meet clients needs without compromising the welfare of future generations, and this is exactly what GWT is doing in Ecuador.

GWT first started working with the U.S. Commercial Service, a unit within the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2008. International Trade Specialists in the USCS Orlando office advised the company on doing business in various markets across the world, including Ecuador. “The U.S. Commercial Service has brought tremendous value and insight to our business over the years by supporting our projects and helping us secure transactions abroad” said Nick Nicholas, Technical Director for Genesis Water Technologies, Inc.

The estimated cost for this project is $80 million USD with the potential for follow on contracts for the ongoing maintenance of the treatment plant. The Genesis Water Technologies design for this plant location includes an advanced sustainable wastewater treatment design, integrating soil fertilizer additive and wastewater reuse for irrigation and agricultural land around Portoviejo.

For more information on the U.S. Commercial Service or to find an office near you, click here.



The International Trade Administration is Open and Ready to Assist American Businesses

January 28, 2019

Please stay tuned for regular scheduled content. In the meantime, click here to learn about our programs. ITA is proud to connect U.S. companies to opportunities abroad. If you are interested in how ITA can help you access overseas markets, contact your local International Trade Specialist.


NOTICE: Due to a lapse in appropriations…

December 26, 2018

NOTICE: Due to a lapse in appropriations, this account will not be updated until a new appropriations act is enacted. Learn more: