h1

Women in International Trade, District Export Council, U.S. Department of Commerce Team Up for Program on Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa

May 2, 2018

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

This is a guest blog submitted by the Association of Women in International Trade, Washington, DC.

Photo of participants from the Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships panel posing with Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh. The diverse panel featured voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

Participants from the Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships panel pose with Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh. The diverse panel featured voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

On March 15, the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) and the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT), in partnership with the Virginia/Washington, DC District Export Council (DEC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service, Northern Virginia office, hosted a program on U.S.-Africa partnership and women’s economic empowerment.

Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships was held in connection with International Women’s Day, and highlighted growing opportunities for women-owned businesses to expand their export bases into Africa.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross delivered the opening remarks, and Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh moderated the subsequent panel discussion, featuring voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

Addressing the roughly 150 guests in attendance, Secretary Ross shared his insights on the growing opportunities for women-owned business to go global. He specifically advocated for women to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that exist for American businesses to find new markets and effectively compete in Africa.

Following Secretary Ross’s remarks, Assistant Secretary Walsh opened the panel discussion, congratulating the Washington, D.C. WIIT for celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2017. She noted that only 12 percent of U.S. exporters are women-owned, compared to 20 percent of exporters worldwide. Further, only one percent of all U.S. SMEs export overseas.

“We must change these statistics,” Walsh said.

The following people participated in the panel discussion:

  • E. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, Permanent Representative of the African Union Representational Mission to the United States;
  • Mary Bezzini, President of Godman Power Group, Inc.;
  • Mucha Mlingo, President of OWIT Nairobi;
  • Thione Niang, Founder of the Give1Project;
  • Florie Liser, President & CEO, Corporate Council on Africa.

Interested in Exporting to Africa?

If you are considering entering or expanding into African markets, there are many ways in which the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service can help you achieve your goals.

Country commercial guides are available for most African countries. To talk to someone locally about exporting, contact the U.S. Commercial Service in your area.

You can also use the U.S. Commercial Service to help you develop an export strategy and promote your brand for targeted African countries.

h1

The Verdict Is In: The SelectUSA Investment Summit Delivers Results for Business Investors

April 27, 2018

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

Bill Burwell is the Director of Events for SelectUSA.

Photo from 2017 SUSA Summit highlighting an individual matchmaking session.

The 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit included more than 2,000 scheduled individual matchmaking meetings between businesses and economic development officials.

The SelectUSA Investment Summit brings the worlds of foreign direct investment (FDI) and economic development together—all under one roof. Attendees will hear from senior U.S. government officials and Cabinet secretaries, executives from some of the world’s top companies, and economic thought leaders at the forefront of a changing global economy.

It all happens again on June 20-22, 2018, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in the Washington, D.C. area.

Past Investment Summit participants have announced more than $71 billion in new investment projects. These projects have created or retained more than 110,000 U.S. jobs. Among those jobs will be nearly 400 in New York, where Romanian distiller Alexandrion is opening a facility. In Kentucky, Japanese manufacturer Takigawa will employ 180 people after making connections at the Investment Summit. MIG Neurons and sRs McCoy are among the Indian companies that have moved into soft landing facilities in Maryland and New Jersey after making connections at the Investment Summit.

SelectUSA received highly positive feedback from international business attendees at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit:

“The SelectUSA Investment Summit far exceeded my expectations. The event was well worth the investment … I was impressed by the quality of the connections made and the value my firm received as an exhibitor.”

 “This is the place to be if you are considering starting a business in the United States.”

“The Investment Summit is absolutely the right forum for launching a new business in the U.S. The value of getting a large number of states and economic development agencies on one floor is priceless.”

“The benefit of attending the SelectUSA Investment Summit is direct, immediate, and purposeful contact with municipal, state, and federal personnel.”

We expect to continue delivering for potential business investors at the 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit. Last year’s Investment Summit drew a record number of participants, including more than 600 economic developers from 52 U.S. states and territories.

International business investors utilized the online matchmaking platform to schedule face-to-face meetings with American economic developers. In the 79,000-sq.-ft. Exhibition Hall, these investors saw what dozens of U.S. states, counties, cities, territories, and regions had to offer.

There is simply no better place to connect to the economic development community than at the Investment Summit.

Don’t miss your chance to connect with EDOs from across the United States. Join us at the SelectUSA Investment Summit. For more information, please visit selectusasummit.us.

h1

International Intellectual Property Day

April 26, 2018

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

By Stevan Mitchell, Director, Office of Intellectual Property Rights, Industry and Analysis, International Trade Administration

Logo for stopfakes.gov websiteIntellectual property (IP) is a key commodity in U.S. trade.  Each year more than 50 percent of U.S. merchandise exports and more than 10 percent of total U.S. services exports come from IP intensive industries.  The United States has become the global leader in cutting edge sectors in part due to strong IP protection regimes. Our commitment to IP protection and enforcement is among the strongest in the world, as reflected in our trade relationships. We know that IP is how the U.S. economy will continue to grow, and that protection both at home and abroad are critical for our industries to flourish worldwide.

Although IP is a private right, government has an essential role to play in educating innovators and creators about its importance, how to obtain protection, and how to enforce against infringers. This is particularly the case when it comes to obtaining and enforcing IP in foreign markets. Although all WTO members must adhere to the minimum IP protections set out in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs), the specifics of IP protection vary widely by country. Even for U.S. businesses that do not export, foreign protection of IP is critical; businesses should always be registered in markets where they manufacture, in addition to markets where they sell their products.

The Office of Intellectual Property Rights at the International Trade Administration (ITA) takes seriously our mandate to educate U.S. business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), about protecting IP in foreign markets. To that end, today, in commemoration of World IP Day 2018, we are pleased to announce the publication of four new Country Toolkits on www.STOPfakes.gov to assist U.S. entrepreneurs in understanding the ins and outs of IP protections in four Southeast Asian markets: Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. ITA and the Department of Commerce would like to recognize the professionals whose efforts contributed to these toolkits, including Margaret (Maggie) Hanson-Muse and her regional team for envisioning and originating the project, and IP Attaché Peter Fowler for his guidance and expertise.

In addition to the new comprehensive toolkits, we are excited to announce the launch of a brand new series of Country Snapshots, available on the Toolkits page of www.STOPfakes.gov.  The Country Snapshots are a quick and easy way to learn the basics about how to protect IP in a foreign market. Each Snapshot identifies the agencies responsible for obtaining patents or trademarks and for registering copyright, and provides their contact information. The Snapshots also list the international agreements to which the country is a party, the legal framework for the protection of trade secrets, and identify whether the country is listed on the Special 301 Report (an annual report identifying markets with deficient IP protections).

This first tranche of Snapshots includes some of the world’s largest markets. Upcoming releases will include U.S. FTA partners and countries in the European Union. These Snapshots are a first stop for American entrepreneurs who are preparing to export or manufacture abroad. Combined with our national STOPFakes.gov Road Shows and other educational resources available on our site, we are providing our innovative industries with the information they need to take full advantage of export markets without putting at risk their valuable IP assets.

Our office is committed to partnering with ITA industry analysts to produce more industry-specific products. We have recently launched a series of Industry IP Toolkits, which identify for exporters of products and services those IP issues they should address early on in developing export strategies. We now have Industry Toolkits for exporters of building materials, medical devices and auto parts, and today we publish a new Industry Toolkit for pleasure boat exporters. 

We are also excited to announce the launch of @STOPfakesGov twitter account, to keep followers apprised of new events and publications, as well as tips and observations useful to protecting creative, innovative and branded assets.  Follow us!

h1

Are you Export Savvy? Get the Edge on Exporting with New Export.gov Resources

April 19, 2018

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

By Curt Cultice, Senior Communications Specialist, and Jennifer Stone Marshall, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service

Logo for Export.gov's new email service, Export Today.Setting your compass in international trade can be rewarding, but challenging. Are you wondering “What is my firm’s potential for international sales?” or “How do I find greater success abroad?” We have two new online tools that can help you chart a course: export.gov’s exporter (self) assessments and export business tip emails.

Exporter Assessments Point the Way Forward

The U.S. Commercial Service’s exporter assessments can help improve your export planning while pointing to helpful resources. With expert input from our global network of trade professionals, the quick and easy-to-use assessments are customized to different levels of experience: new-to-export companies, exporters expanding into new markets, or experienced exporters in more challenging markets.

There are many questions to consider. Here is a brief overview of questions that are answered in the assessments:

  • Does your firm have sufficient production capacity that can be committed to the export market?
  • Does your company have capabilities to modify ingredients and product packaging to meet foreign import regulations, cultural preferences, and survive competition?
  • Will financing be required for any expansion?
  • Has your business considered pursuing U.S. free trade agreement countries as part of a broader export strategy?
  • Is your company familiar with U.S. Department of Commerce resources to help resolve trade issues and problems?

Moreover, each assessment provides important links to additional information, including the informative Exporting Basics videos series.

New “Export Today” Emails Give You Tips for Success

To continue developing your exporting competency, subscribe to our new email tip service, Export Today. You will receive biweekly emails from the U.S. Commercial Service, and get pointers on exporting issues relevant to your company’s experience level. Whether it’s shipping issues, trade finance assistance, researching the market, or a separate issue, Export Today will provide you with insights and connect you with the best content on export.gov. Sign up today.

Get Started Today on Export.gov

With our decades of experience in helping U.S. companies sell abroad, we bring you the most useful information and tools on export.gov. Companies that take the time to think through an export plan tend to have greater international success. The effort can make the difference between generating a few international sales and achieving real business growth. Get export savvy and on the path to new export sales by taking your own exporter assessment and signing up for Export Today email tips.

h1

The Show Me State Sees Significant FDI

April 11, 2018

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

Guest blog post by Steve Johnson, CEO, Missouri Partnership

Graphic of the Missouri Partnership logo.Businesses with overseas locations are rapidly transitioning production back to the United States, and facilities are popping up in every region, including Missouri. Manufacturers are taking advantage of what Missouri has to offer by joining an existing industry center with the infrastructure and talent supplies already in place, including access to major customers.

The United States is poised to re-emerge as a manufacturing superpower, thanks in large part to foreign direct investment. Since January 2017, Missouri has attracted significant investments by foreign-owned companies and from U.S. companies’ reshoring jobs. Some examples include:

  • Brødrene Hartmann, a Danish manufacturing company, kicked off production at its U.S. headquarters in Rolla, Missouri;
  • Trans-Lux reshored jobs from China to Missouri;
  • Toyota invested more than $17 million in its Missouri plant; and,
  • Nammo AS, an international aerospace and defense company headquartered in Norway, chose Pettis County, Missouri, as the site of its latest U.S. distribution center.

SelectUSA EDO SPOTLIGHT SERIES:

This post is part of SelectUSA’s EDO Spotlight series, highlighting the work of EDOs around the country recruiting foreign direct investment, how that work supports jobs and economic growth across the United States, and how SelectUSA partners with EDOs to support economic development. 

“This move to Missouri is a well thought through strategy where all the benefits for all counterparts are optimized,” said Raimo Helasmaki, Nammo’s Executive Vice President of Commercial Ammunition. “The local authorities have been very easy to work with to help develop this project. We look forward to years of growth through this facility.”

In February, Faurecia, a leading automotive technology company headquartered in France, announced an investment of more than $60 million and the creation of more than 300 jobs in Blue Springs, Missouri.

“Kansas City Metro and the Blue Springs areas are known for being a source of excellence in American manufacturing, and we’re looking forward to building on that expertise and skill set as we continue to provide the very best to our customers,” said Donald Hampton, Jr., president of Faurecia Interiors in North America.

In March, Switzerland’s ARG International AG announced an investment in the U.S.-based Magnitude 7 Metals, creating more than 450 advanced manufacturing jobs in Marston, Missouri.

“From Washington to Missouri, what we are announcing today is the result of years of hard work and a major change in the way employers and farmers are treated,” said U.S. Representative Jason Smith (MO-8) about the Magnitude 7 investment. “We are bringing back the domestic aluminum and steel industries, and with it, jobs.”

Manufacturing buzz is building and it has crossed international barriers. Foreign companies recognize the advantages of manufacturing in the United States, and their interest is leading to serious discussions and decisions. This migration seems to be leading to a resurgence in American manufacturing prosperity, returning to its roots as a center of innovation and enterprise.

For more information on the Missouri Partnership, please visit missouripartnership.com.

h1

STRENGTHENING CREDIT CONDITIONS FOR EXPORTING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

April 6, 2018

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

Ericka Ukrow is a Senior International Trade Specialist specializing in Financial Services at the International Trade Administration.

Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2017. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Meeting of the TFAC, February 22, 2018. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Exporters, lenders, and researchers are working together to improve options for trade financing through the Department of Commerce’s Trade Finance Advisory Council (TFAC).

In an increasingly interconnected global economy, trade is taking a prominent role in our country’s economic growth.

The availability of finance is essential for a vigorous trading system. Most export transactions are supported by some form of financing or credit insurance. However, significant gaps in the global provision of trade finance remain.

Globally, the trade finance gap in 2017 was estimated at $1.5 trillion, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facing the greatest hurdles to access trade finance.

The TFAC advises the Secretary of Commerce on effective ways to increase access to financing resources for all U.S. exporters, especially SMEs. With up to 20 private-sector members representing financial and insurance services providers, manufacturing firms, trade finance industry associations, and research organizations, the TFAC’s thought-leadership coordinates perspectives from diverse stakeholders into the development of policies and programs in this area.

These insights help direct Commerce’s actions toward conducive framework conditions that would amplify U.S. exporters access to strategic educational and financing resources.

Over the last fifteen months, the TFAC has focused on:

  1. export finance best practices;
  2. enabling new private sector channels for the flow of credit to exporting SMEs;
  3. education strategies to reduce the information gap across government, community banks, and other enablers of SME finance;
  4. addressing financing process obstacles that impede SME credit;
  5. analyzing trade credit insurance underutilization in the United States; and
  6. reviewing the performance of alternative export credit agencies’ models.
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 17, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell - Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

Meeting of the TFAC at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell – Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

At the February TFAC meeting, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recognized the Council for its critical role in advancing the Administration’s goal of reducing U.S. trade deficits by empowering more SMEs with financing solutions that would increase their export opportunities.

“While we seek to level the playing field and negotiate more favorable terms with our trading partners, we count on you to continue empowering SMEs in the international arena. Without adequate access to finance, it is difficult for U.S. exporters to sell their products and services globally.”

He also encouraged Council members to identify how emerging technologies, such as blockchain, could facilitate trade finance solutions and reduce risk for U.S. SME exporters.

The TFAC also welcomed Secretary Wilbur Ross’ new appointed members this year:

  • Steven Bash, Senior Vice President, International Banking, City National Bank
  • Alan Beard, Managing Director, Interlink Capital Strategies
  • Russell D’Souza, Vice President, Corporate Treasurer, Hanesbrands, Inc.
  • Patricia Gomes, Managing Director, Regional Head Global Trade and Receivables Finance North America, HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
  • William Browning, Senior Vice President, Business Credit – Trade Finance Manager, First National Bank
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken - National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera - The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann - Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul - Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

Meeting of the TFA at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken – National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera – The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann – Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul – Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

These new appointees expand the Council’s expertise in their representation of both users and providers of trade finance in the manufacturing, banking, and management consulting services sectors.

The TFAC expects to discuss improving the credit conditions and diversifying financing sources for U.S. exporters at their Spring meeting.

If you would like to learn more about the TFAC, you can visit our website or you can contact us at TFC@trade.gov.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the TFAC, stay tuned! The Council may be looking for applicants this summer. You can learn more here.

h1

Smart Fabrics 101

March 22, 2018

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

Guest blog post by Linden L. Wicklund, Director of Member Services, Industrial Fabrics Association International 

Smart Fabrics Summit logoWe are fast approaching an important gathering of business and government leaders in Washington, D.C., at the Smart Fabrics Summit, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) on April 24.  The Summit will bring together more than 200 representatives from the apparel, technology and textile industries to explore the challenges and opportunities facing designers, manufacturers, and retailers of smart fabrics and wearable products.

The capabilities of everyday textiles and apparel are rapidly expanding as new technologies are developed, redefining how we interact with our environment through clothing and other textiles.  Like cell phones, which have evolved from being used for simple phone calls to incorporating a variety of “smart” functions into a single device, textiles and apparel are evolving and gaining the ability to be used in new and innovative ways.  Smart fabrics – textile materials developed using new technologies to provide revolutionary properties – can communicate with other devices, conduct and store energy, and even monitor biometric data.  One smart fabric is an active wear jacket that allows users to control a smart phone from the jacket’s sleeve. Another cutting-edge technology offered by smart fabric technologies is a sock which tracks an infant’s heart rate and oxygen level while he or she sleeps and sends an alert to the parents’ smartphones if there is a problem.

Defining and understanding smart fabrics is key to developing product standards, intellectual property protections and export strategies. Smart fabrics can include sensors that identify or react to outside stimuli, such as environmental conditions or the wearer’s actions. Sensors may be created through electrical circuits woven into or printed on the material with chemical treatments and coatings, or through fiber or yarn engineering. Smart fabrics may change color in reaction to a stimulus, such as bandages that change color to signal an infection. Smart fabrics may collect solar energy or serve as a carrier for medicine. They can be self-cleaning and even fight air pollution.

Bar graph showing worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Research by Jeff Rasmussen, IFAI’s Director of Market Research, shows that worldwide, the market for smart fabric products has grown by 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017. With this explosive rate of growth, marketing opportunities for U.S. smart fabrics and technology firms are sure to expand. Smart fabric products may be used in multiple market segments, including fashion and entertainment, industrial and commercial, medical and healthcare, military and government, sports and fitness, and transportation.

Join us for the Smart Fabrics Summit on April 24 and learn more about what this diverse and growing market provides to U.S. manufacturers and consumers. The day’s events will include an address from Dr. Yoel Fink, CEO of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), panel discussions covering collaboration with educational institutions, developing standards for smart fabrics, trends in public-private R&D partnerships for smart fabrics, and data security and privacy for connected textiles and apparel. The Summit will also provide demonstrations of various smart fabrics under development.  We hope to see you there!