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Small Medical Technology Firm Overcomes Shipping Challenges and Succeeds in International Sales

June 30, 2017

Pompeya Lambrecht is a senior international trade specialist in the U.S. Commercial Service Northern Virginia office and a member of the Global Healthcare Team. The U.S. Commercial Service is the export promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

Last year I met Patrick Cheng, CEO of eKare, Inc., when he was signing a distribution agreement to sell his firm’s medical wound imaging devices in Asia and other regions throughout the world.  This is a big success for the Washington, D.C., area start-up that wasestablished in 2014.  However, without previous international shipping experience, Cheng needed help figuring out how best to ship his products. tech

eKare’s products use machine intelligence and sensor technologies to deliver wound imaging directly to a mobile device at the point of care.  While the product looks like a tablet, it’s a medical device powered by eKare’s proprietary software.

High-tech medical devices such as these make our lives better, but they present special challenges in the international trade environment.  For instance, do you ship the device as a computer tablet or a medical device?  What product registrations does eKare need to comply with foreign government regulations?  What U.S. export regulations does eKare need to observe?

With the help of the U.S. Commercial Service and introductions to private sector volunteers like Kathy O’Keefe, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve on the Virginia/D.C. District Export Council, eKare completed its first international shipments.

“Exporting can be very complicated, and we couldn’t have done it without guidance from Pompeya and Kathy, and support from the U.S. Department of Commerce,” Cheng said.

Selling internationally can seem daunting.  Nevertheless, with management’s commitment and patience to sell overseas, even small companies like eKare can increase their international footprint.  There is a network of resources available to help small and medium-sized companies sell internationally.  These include other federal agencies like the EXIM Bank as well as local economic development partnerships, like the Virginia Small Business Development Center.  Healthcare firms can access sector-specific resources from the U.S. Commercial Service Global Healthcare Team. To learn more, please contact your local U.S. Commercial Service office.

 

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U.S. Exporters Poised to Capitalize on Global Demand for Smart Grid Products and Services

June 29, 2017

By Vickie Gunderson, Smart Grid Analyst

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

The average number of Internet-connected devices per household is expected to increase five-fold by 2022, leading to potentially over 50 billion connected devices by 2025.  As more devices are connected to the Internet– in our homes, offices, and manufacturing facilities – it is becoming increasing more critical that people have access to reliable, secure, affordable, and clean electricity to power them.  And U.S. firms that provide the products and services to meet these grid modernization needs are seeing increased global interest.

Earlier this year, we released an Update to the 2016 Smart Grid Top Markets Report. These articles offer detailed analysis of the near-term growth potential for U.S. exporters of smart grid products and services overall and for three sub-sectors:  transmission and distribution (T&D) equipment, smart grid information communications technologies (ICT), and energy storage.  The Update expanded the number of ranked international markets for U.S. exporters from 34 to 50 markets and ranks them according to opportunities.

Across the suite of sub-sectors, U.S. exporters remain global leaders. Deployment of these advanced technologies across the United States to modernize our grid is serving as a global test bed for these disruptive technologies. Nowhere is this more apparent than for energy storage systems.

Today, the United States is one of the global leaders in deployment of energy storage with more than 200 battery projects totally over 400 MW added to the system and remains the world leader for testing innovative policy, regulatory, and business models. However, projects are being deployed across the globe with global deployment of energy storage expected to increase seven fold over the next five years.  This presents a key export opportunity for U.S. manufacturers and service providers.

Over the last eight years, the costs of grid-scale battery energy storage has decreased ten fold. These types of cost reductions are driving the deployment of a wide range of energy storage systems in the United States and around the globe and enabling electric utilities to store electrons (electricity) to provide power when it is needed and help steady the 24/7 need to balance the generation and the demand for electricity.

As a result, the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (TPCC-REEE), and the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Energy are leading an interagency effort to enhance services and programs to support U.S. competiveness in a range of sub-sectors across this diverse industry – including for energy storage.

In the  2016 Smart Grid Top Markets report, the Department of Commerce included dedicated analysis on energy storage to increase market intelligence for U.S. exporters, and our January 2017 Update included the first sub-sector rankings for energy storage exporters. Additionally, at DistribuTECH 2017, under the International Buyer Program, the Department of Commerce led delegations totaling more than 400 foreign buyers to facilitate meetings with U.S. energy storage and smart grid companies, as well as interact with U.S. utilities who have successfully deployed these products domestically.

Further recognizing the link between technology deployment and regulatory barriers, we have engaged in a series of market-specific activities. At the third U.S.-India Smart Grid Workshop in New Delhi,I participated in public-private discussions on the challenges to smart grid technology deployment in India. We also held discussions on communications networks for electric utilities in Brazil under our partnership with the Utilities Technologies Council through our Market Development Cooperator Program, and later this year (October 31-November 2), we will be leading a delegation of U.S. firms to Toronto and Calgary for the Renewable Energy Integration Trade Mission.

And this is just the beginning! Stay tuned for upcoming events related to global smart grid opportunities, and a full update to the Smart Grid Top Market Report later this fall. Sign up for our Global Energy Team newsletter to stay in the know!

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Helping North Carolina Small Businesses Learn How to Access Finance and Get Paid from Export Sales!

June 28, 2017

Yuki Fujiyama, a trade finance specialist in the Office of Finance and Insurance Industries and the author of the Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters, currently serves as the Global Finance Team Leader.  Greg Sizemore, the Executive Secretary of the North Carolina District Export Council, currently serves as the Director of the U.S. Commercial Service North Carolina.

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

Expanding access to finance for U.S. exporters, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and their foreign buyers is important to the International Trade Administration (ITA), the federal government’s lead export promotion agency. As part of the Department’s efforts to help American SMEs fully capitalize on markets around the world, ITA and the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (NC SBTDC) partnered to present The Global Trade Finance Workshop recently at the University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Participants of the Global Trade Finance Workshop at the University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Many SMEs face significant challenges in accessing finance and ensuring they get paid from export sales customers. The Wilmington workshop helped the 10 local SMEs in attendance to discover ways to overcome such challenges by learning about the methods of payment and export finance options described in ITA’s Trade Finance Guide.

In 2016, North Carolina’s $30 billion in goods exports helped contribute to the $2.21 trillion of U.S. goods and services exports. In 2015, more than 158,000 U.S. jobs were supported by goods exports from North Carolina.  In 2014, nearly 10,000 SMEs in North Carolina exported their goods to global markets, accounting for 88 percent of North Carolina goods exporters.

NC Port of Wilmington

NC Port of Wilmington

These Global Trade Finance Workshops are designed to help SME exporters learn how to improve their cash flow cycle, profitability, and competitive advantage globally, and focus on the following topics:

  • Analyzing and understanding your financial capacity for trade finance.
  • Determining the best method of payment for international transactions.
  • Weighing the pros and cons of cash-in-advance and open accounts.
  • Considering letters of credit and documentary collection options.
  • How to manage export working capital to meet growing customer demand.
  • How to utilize export credit insurance to gain and retain foreign customers.
  • Leveraging overseas private investment in foreign direct investment.

Do you need more info on trade finance? Our Trade Finance Guide is a great place to start!  ITA also offers two helpful videos that are all about getting paid and financing options available to U.S. companies beginning to export.

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SelectUSA for Innovation, Knowledge, and Opportunity – 365 Days a Year

June 20, 2017

By Fred Volcansek, Executive Director, SelectUSA

The 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 18-20, concluded this afternoon. SelectUSA Executive Director Fred Volcansek looks back on the historic Summit and forward to SelectUSA’s ongoing mission: bringing job-creating investment to the United States. Summaries of Sunday and Monday be found here (day one) and here (day two).

I joined SelectUSA to help global businesses succeed by putting the American people first. As I look back over the past three days, I feel incredibly proud of our collective efforts to support this goal. I am inspired by the energy and enthusiasm that investors and economic developers alike have shown throughout the entire event, and believe more than ever that it’s time to get down to business.

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Photo of the Department of Commerce team that made the 2017 Summit a reality. Seated in front, from left to right: Fred Volcansek, Executive Director of SelectUSA; Kenneth Hyatt, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade; Israel Hernandez, Deputy Chief of Staff and performing delegated duties of the Under Secretary for International Trade; Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce; Judy Reinke, Acting Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service and Assistant Secretary for Global Markets; and Peggy Philbin, Deputy Executive Director of SelectUSA

First, some reflections over the last three days. This year’s Summit, hosted by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, was SelectUSA’s biggest yet. More than 2,800 international business investors, U.S. economic developers, service providers, members of the global press, and other key stakeholders met under one roof. Economic development organizations (EDOs) from 51 U.S. states and territories had the opportunity to meet directly with decision-making investors from over 60 international markets.

The 79,000-sq.-ft. Exhibition Hall was filled to capacity as EDOs from every corner of the United States showcased what their states, territories, regions, and cities had to offer. Our online matchmaking system is continuing to log floods of individual meetings between U.S. economic developers and global investors, meetings that form the foundation of what will become job-creating business success stories.

CEOs from BMW, Oracle, ABB, Siemens USA, and many more joined forces in plenaries, armchair discussions, and breakout sessions to discuss the latest developments and trends affecting investment in the United States. Secretaries Alexander Acosta (Labor), Steven T. Mnuchin (Treasury), and Rick Perry (Energy) joined Secretary Ross to discuss how each department was working to make the Administration’s America First agenda a reality, while Secretary Rex Tillerson (State) delivered a video message to participants reaffirming the government’s commitment to strengthening public and private sector economic relationships.

The Summit’s theme, “Grow with US”, isn’t just a tagline; it’s an invitation to the world, and I was thrilled to see two companies respond accordingly. In a first for SelectUSA, two companies – French tech startup Klaxoon and Indian business management firm Genpact – joined Secretary Ross to announce their plan to establish operations in New York and Florida.

These announcements represent renewed confidence in the United States. President Trump is dedicated to unleashing America’s economic might, and that includes bringing more foreign direct investment into the country than ever before.

The 2017 Investment Summit may be over, but the work of attracting investment to the United States continues. So much of this work is performed by economic development organizations across the country, which offer a wealth of information and resources to guide investors through the process of establishing or expanding their operations in a specific location. And SelectUSA is also here to help, offering assistance with navigating the federal regulatory system, providing access to data and information, and connecting U.S. EDOs to investors from around the world – both directly and at events like the Investment Summit.

By investing in the United States and its people, you’re investing in your own success and in an economy that powers the world.

Come to the United States – your business is welcome here, and we’re ready to work with you.

For more information on SelectUSA and its services, please visit http://www.selectusa.gov. Follow SelectUSA on Twitter @SelectUSA.

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Day Two: The 2017 SelectUSA Summit Continues

June 19, 2017

By Fred Volcansek, Executive Director, SelectUSA

The second day of the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit was one for the record books. On Monday, June 19, we welcomed more than 2,800 attendees – our largest Summit yet – from 51 U.S. states and territories and 64 global markets to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.

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Photo from the Klaxoon announcement ceremony – Klaxoon CEO Matthieu Beucher (left) and SelectUSA Executive Director Fred Volcansek (right)

Deputy Chief of Staff and performing delegated duties of the Under Secretary for International Trade Israel Hernandez introduced Secretary Wilbur Ross, who started the first day of mainstage events by welcoming the record 1,200+ international investors to the second day of the Summit.

“To our international delegation members – welcome. We’re glad you’re here. We welcome you as our guests, and we welcome you as investors.” – Israel Hernandez

In addition to Secretary Ross, Energy Secretary Rick Perry highlighted one of the unique advantages to investing in the United States: our vast, low-cost supply of energy from a wide range of sources.

The theme for the 2017 Summit, “Grow with US”, promotes the fact that the United States is the place to invest and grow a business. When you select the United States, you’re gaining access to the world’s most dynamic, innovative market – and so much more.

This message was reiterated on the mainstage by the leading business executives and industry experts in the world, including National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons, ABB President of the Americas Region Greg Sheu, General Motors Chair and CEO Mary T. Barra, GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt, and others.
It was also another day of firsts for the SelectUSA Investment Summit.

One feature of the day was the armchair between Secretary Ross and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox – the first time a U.S. cabinet member has ever shared the Summit stage with an international counterpart.

Building upon last year’s Infrastructure Roundtable, the SelectUSA Infrastructure Symposium brought experts in the field of public-private partnerships (P3s) together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of American infrastructure investment. Richard LeFrak, Chairman and CEO of LeFrak, delivered the keynote address.

Meanwhile, as the Symposium was underway, more SelectUSA history was made. Secretary Ross congratulated French tech startup Klaxoon, which broke the news of its first-ever investment in the United States, right here at the Summit.

Secretary Ross also joined South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and executives from BMW, Michelin, and Siemens USA to recognize South Carolina’s ambitious workforce development programs.

The full day of listening and networking culminated in U.S. State and Local Night, a lively event where attendees got the chance to strengthen newly formed connections and take mini-trips all over the nation. I have no doubt that many successful ventures will be born, and new American jobs created, because of these connections.

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow, the 2017 Summit will draw to a close. And there is still so much to come. We’ll hear from Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and several more international business leaders. I look forward to more exciting firsts, including another investment announcement that involves the creation of 250 new jobs in the Sunshine State.
Visit the Summit website to see the full agenda.

If you were not able to join us this year, check out the livestream for live coverage of mainstage events, and follow SelectUSA on Twitter.

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And So It Begins: Day One of the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit

June 18, 2017

By Fred Volcansek, Executive Director, SelectUSA

Today, we kicked off the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit with the SelectUSA Investment Academy, a half-day, 25-session program designed to offer a deeper dive into the U.S. investment process. Economic developers and international business investors converged on the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center with one goal: to make the most of their time at the Summit.

The “Make It in Rural America” Academy session. From left to right: Heather Ranck, International Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce; Brett Doney, CEO, Great Falls Development Authority, State of Montana; Scott Hercik, Transportation and International Trade Advisor, Appalachian Regional Commission; and Brad Little, Lieutenant Governor, State of Idaho

The “Make It in Rural America” Academy session. From left to right: Heather Ranck, International Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce; Brett Doney, CEO, Great Falls Development Authority, State of Montana; Scott Hercik, Transportation and International Trade Advisor, Appalachian Regional Commission; and Brad Little, Lieutenant Governor, State of Idaho

It all began with early registration and one of many Summit firsts – an opportunity for individuals eligible for the U.S. Global Entry program to participate in pre-arranged interviews with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) on site! Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States – in other words, more valuable time to get straight to business.

Today’s main order of business was the SelectUSA Investment Academy. With short sessions and a highly interactive format, the Investment Academy is essentially a crash course, or, depending on attendee experience, a refresher. Panels are made up of leading business and economic experts and government leaders, each providing the audience with actionable information on how to make the most of their next investment deal.

This year’s Investment Academy was brimming with interest. In one session, attendees were shown a demo of the U.S. Cluster Mapping Open Data Tool by SelectUSA’s Director of Investment Analysis, Elizabeth Shaefer. At another, a panel of experts explained why and how international investors should “Make It in Rural America.” Still others explored a myriad of topics – from taxes and visas to site selection and economic development lead and pipeline management. Also making its debut at the Investment Academy were special sessions by eight federal agencies/bureaus, sharing valuable information and providing participants with a unique opportunity to engage with some of the U.S. government’s most experienced practitioners. These agencies will also be represented in full force at the U.S. Government Pavilion in the Exhibition Hall throughout the three-day Summit, offering additional valuable face-to-face time.

One of the day’s many highlights was the opening of the Exhibition Hall. Here, the sheer diversity and economic strength of the United States was on full display. Now through Tuesday afternoon, economic development organizations (EDOs) from 50 states and territories are displaying what their states, territories, regions, and cities have to offer the world. If you’re attending the Summit, I encourage you to take this unique opportunity to stroll across the entire United States – in a single 79,000-sq.-ft. room. State and Local Night, which begins on Monday at 5:00, is an especially lively time!

Tomorrow’s Agenda

The Summit continues tomorrow. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will open the proceedings, welcoming more than 2,800 participants from across the United States and 64 international markets to the largest-yet SelectUSA Investment Summit.

The mainstage panels and breakout sessions will cover a broad range of topics affecting investment in the United States. Senior government officials will be joined by top-level executives from companies like GE, General Motors, Siemens USA, and Oracle. At 12:00 p.m., Secretary Ross will join UK Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade Liam Fox for an armchair discussion on the strength of the bilateral trade relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster will take the stage, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the Department of Commerce’s Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Commerce performing the duties of the Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Israel Hernandez.

I am also looking forward to two specific events: an exciting announcement from Secretary Ross regarding a new investment in New York by an award-winning French startup (in Chesapeake D-F), and a workforce development recognition ceremony with Secretary Ross and Governor McMaster in the Exhibition Hall. Both events are firsts of their kind for SelectUSA, and we are proud to have been part of the teams that made it happen.

If you were not able to join us this year, I invite you to watch the main plenary sessions via livestream and follow live coverage on Twitter.

I know this will be the best SelectUSA Investment Summit yet, and I look forward to hearing about how your company or EDO found its next investment deal.

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Join ITA at OPEN for Government Contracting: Summit for Success

June 14, 2017

Jamie Merriman is Acting Director of ITA’s Office of Strategic Partnerships

Interested in learning how to navigate the government contracting landscape, including opportunities for international contracts and sales?  Join ITA and American Express at its 9th annual OPEN for Government Contracting: Summit for Success in Washington DC on June 15th.  The event helps small and middle market business owners get the insight and experience they need to do business with the world’s largest customer: the U.S. government*. This year, for the first time ever, the event will also highlight international opportunities, including information about the services ITA offers to assist U.S. small businesses looking to enter international markets.

Since launching their partnership in June of 2015, ITA and American Express have collaborated on a program of activities to increase trade education and awareness of export opportunities for U.S. businesses.  The joint effort has focused on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the American Express Grow GlobalSM program designed both small and middle-market businesses – those generating up to $1 billion in revenues annually.  American Express and ITA have teamed up to bring the Grow Global program to Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore and Long Beach, and are now adding elements of that program to the upcoming OPEN for Government Contracting: Summit for Success in Washington, DC.

The Summit will feature the Director of ITA’s eCommerce Innovation Lab and a Baltimore-based small business that has successfully reached international markets utilizing ITA services.  Register now for this free event to learn how your business can leverage ITA’s services and take advantage of opportunities in international markets.  You can also view video interviews about how to sell more online, overseas, from our public/private partnership on the industry site: http://gettingtoglobal.com/