Posts Tagged ‘Exporting’


Putting International Trade at the Local Level

January 30, 2013

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Elías González is an intern in the International Trade Administration Office of Public Affairs, and is a former West Point Cadet and graduate from the University of Pennsylvania.

Should local governments pay attention to international trade? American trade leaders think so and they’re helping city leaders take a bite out of the export pie.

International trade was a hot topic at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Winter Meeting in Washington, DC this month, and representatives from the International Trade Administration (ITA) used the opportunity to illustrate how U.S. competitiveness depends on local communities.

Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, emphasized the importance of the president’s National Export Initiative (NEI).  He said that 95 percent of consumers live outside the U.S., and that the NEI is instrumental in helping American businesses access those foreign markets. He also lauded its success, citing that U.S. exports reached a record $2.1 trillion in 2011 and that data when available next month will likely show that 2012 was even higher.

In a separate task force meeting, Walter Bastian, Deputy Secretary for the Western Hemisphere here at ITA, reaffirmed the importance of international trade, pointing out that trade with Mexico alone produces an average of $1 million a minute for the U.S. economy.

Bastian emphasized the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement among several Asian, Pacific, and North American countries, and how it will strengthen trade with Mexico. He said that it will help reduce the cost of doing business, potentially making that million-dollar-a-minute figure higher.

Sánchez and Bastian were quick to note that the economic benefits from trade are not felt only by the U.S. as a whole, but by local communities as well.

In a cooperative effort to help local communities enter the exporting business efficiently, ITA has partnered with the Brookings Institution on the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI). Several metropolitan areas in the U.S. are already participating, and the Under Secretary urged the mayors to utilize the tools the ITA provides. The MEI is one of many tools in place to remedy inefficiency. Inefficiency at the border—issues like long wait times for trucks—cost upwards of $6 billion per year.

Initiatives like the MEI help local communities gain greater control over their exports and create more efficient and beneficial trade partnerships.

Under Secretary Sánchez concluded his discussion at the conference by emphasizing that cities need to prioritize exports, reach new markets, and draw new investments. He reiterated what he and Bastian deemed crucial, that as cities succeed the country succeeds, and that ITA is here to help.


Thousands of Eyes Trained on Us

March 29, 2012

Cory Churches is a Communications Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs at the International Trade Administration

Social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and this blog you’re reading now have become as ubiquitous as email, the Internet, and mobile devices. And these channels collectively connect us to all of you and you to one another.

Nearly three years ago, we launched this blog (April 23, 2009 to be exact) and our Twitter feed @TradeGov followed soon after. Our Facebook page took a bit more time to launch but now has 3,000 fans. International Facebook Page

This week we achieved some milestones in our social media networks, reaching 5,000 followers and 1,000 tweets on Twitter, and nearly 300 entries on our blog with more than 1,200 comments. And just today we converted our Facebook page to timeline. Check it out!

Much of the information contained within our blog Tradeology comes from around the globe, written by Commercial Service officers serving in Manila, Philippines or in Fargo, North Dakota. We’ve covered major events such as the U.S. hosting of APEC in 2011 and the launch of the National Export Initiative as well as the Paris Air Show, and Pow Wow, travel and tourism’s largest global trade event.

Some of our best stories have been about clients and the success stories they’ve shared with us. These first person accounts of small and large businesses finding success in exporting show both the breadth of businesses going abroad and the depth of government services that support them in their endeavors.

Moving forward you will see more interaction from our office as well as from our Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez who recently launched his own Facebook page at

We are looking forward to continuing the conversation we’ve started with you and enjoy your comments and feedback on our efforts to expand exporting to more businesses.


It’s More Fun in the Philippines

March 26, 2012

This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the information available to participants in the 2012 Asia Pacific Business Outlook (APBO)

Patrick Wall is Commercial Counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

This is a great time to look at export opportunities in the Philippines. The Philippines is a market where American products and services are well known and held in high regard, owing to the very close relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines over the past 100 years. U.S. business engagement in the Philippines is longstanding, positive and growing, and American firms play a major role in the economy.

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands, with 92 million inhabitants, and the world’s fourth largest English-speaking nation, with the 14th largest labor force in the world.  The U.S. and the Philippines have US$16.8B in two-way merchandise trade in 2011, and relatively balanced trade flows. The Philippines is ranked as the United States’ 33rd export partner and the 38th import partner.

The U.S. sees the Philippines as a long term business partner. U.S. foreign investment in the Philippines reached was roughly $7 billion by the end of 2011. The U.S. remains the second largest investment partner in the Philippines, accounting for about one-fourth of the country’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock.  U.S. businesses are present in a wide spectrum of sectors and industries.

In his first 18 months in office, President Aquino’s good governance program has resulted in the filing of corruption cases against several high-profile public officials.  The “2012-2016 Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster Plan,” further identifies specific measures to curb corruption through greater transparency and accountability in government transactions.  Efforts to reign in corruption have, in general, improved public perception though achieving successful prosecutions remains to be a serious challenge to the Aquino administration.

For the fifth consecutive year, the promising market sectors in the Philippines for U.S. companies are information technology, telecommunication, medical, electric power, and water resources, respectively. These sectors are further intertwined in the current Philippine government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program targeting those projects of priority to the government.  The Government of the Philippines actively seeks foreign investment to promote economic development of these PPP projects.

U.S. investors in the Philippines have been especially successful in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.  The top 10 American BPO firms operate in the Philippines.  By the end of 2011, the BPO sector of the economy had created 630,000 jobs in the Philippines.  Did you know that in 2011 the Philippines became the number one offshore site for “voice” BPO employment, taking the mantle from India?

Why it’s more fun the Philippines?   The Philippines has much to offer to American exporters:

  • The Economy – a strong comeback with opportunities in many hot sectors
  • The Location – within four hours of major asian capitals
  • The People – warm, friendly and English-speaking

For more information on doing business in the Philippines, please contact us


Opening the Doors to International Sales

December 7, 2011

Richard Brenner, chief executive officer of Amarr Garage Doors, a North Carolina–based manufacturer of garage door systems, tells how his company has devoted its resources over the past 20 years to developing an international mind set and thereby finding success in exporting.

Doug Barry is a senior international trade specialist in the Trade Information Center

Amarr Garage Doors, Inc., is a world leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of door access systems for residential garages, warehouses, commercial buildings, and shopping malls.  Founded by brothers Abe, Morris, and Herb Brenner in 1951, the company recorded sales in excess of $200 million in 2010, and employs more than 1,000 people at 70 locations worldwide. The company has two U.S. manufacturing facilities, in Lawrence, Kansas, and Mocksville, North Carolina, and also has a research and development facility at its headquarters in Winston-Salem.

As a business client of the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS), Amarr has benefited from export counseling, market research, and business matchmaking offered by the USFCS to greatly expand its export sales. Recognition of this came in May 2011, when then–Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke presented Amarr with a prestigious Presidential “E” Award for Exports. The award is the highest recognition any U.S. company may receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

Richard Brenner, chief executive officer of Amarr Garage Doors (left) with Ran Ji of Shanghai Rich-Mark Doors, Ltd. (photo courtesy Amarr Garage Doors)

Richard Brenner, chief executive officer of Amarr Garage Doors (left) with Ran Ji of Shanghai Rich-Mark Doors, Ltd. (photo courtesy Amarr Garage Doors)

Recently, Doug Barry of the Department of Commerce’s Trade Information Center spoke with Richard Brenner, the chief executive officer of Amarr Garage Doors, about the challenges and rewards of selling internationally.

Barry: What challenges did your company face getting into the international marketplace?

Brenner: The first was learning that a garage door for the United States is not the same as a garage door internationally. We had to customize our product to international specifications. Then there was the challenge of obtaining international certifications, particularly CE certification for Europe. We also had a challenge with language—things get lost in translation.

Barry: In what respect?

Brenner: When you’re working internationally, if your customer doesn’t speak English everything takes three times longer. You speak; it’s translated. They speak; it’s translated. So, just having the stamina to pursue negotiations is a big challenge.

Barry: Making and selling garage doors seems pretty straightforward. They go up and they go down. Is there more to the story?

Brenner: Absolutely. For one thing, you have to be willing to deal with the cultural values of your clients, wherever they may be. Recently, for example, I and some colleagues were meeting with a customer in Norway who wanted to treat us to something very special to eat—a sheep’s head! And after having to eat it, he insisted on showing us how the dish was prepared. I think we can leave it at that.

Barry: That doesn’t sound very appetizing. But throughout this exporting process you’ve had help from the Department of Commerce. Can you tell us about that?

Brenner: Alan Richel of the Houston Export Assistance Center [of the USFCS] has been very instrumental in helping us overcome barriers in certain markets where we needed help. Not only through connections, but by educating us—that is, our international sales team—about things we needed to know and do.

Barry: How many international markets are you actually in now?

Brenner: More than 40.

Barry: Was there a big difference between going from your first international market to additional ones?

Brenner: No, just a little bit. Once you understand the first one, it really helps you to get to the next one.

Barry: How long did it take to go from one market to many?

Brenner: More than 20 years. It takes time to build your brand and to build awareness of the fact that you are a company that thinks internationally, not just a domestic producer taking the random opportunity to make an international sale. We had to dedicate resources and time to that effort.

Barry: So how did you become an international-thinking organization?

Brenner: It’s a mindset, but it also was something that I was interested in. I thought it was important for our business. There are only 300 million people in the United States. There are a lot more potential consumers internationally. So, it’s just a matter of focus.

Barry: What’s your biggest overseas market now?

Brenner: The biggest market for garage doors outside of the United States is the European Union. But some of the more interesting markets have been in the Middle East and in the Far East.

Barry: When you say “interesting,” is it because you faced challenges in terms of selling, or the uses to which the doors were put?

Brenner: More the use. For example, going to China and seeing Western-style subdivisions where they were trying to replicate various styles of homes that you see here in the West—I just found that to be very, very amusing.

For More Information

Is your company thinking of expanding overseas? The network of more than 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) located around the country can help. To locate the one nearest you, visit, the U.S. government’s export portal. Aside from links to USEACs, the Web site also includes online tutorials, listings of upcoming trade events, and much more. Visit or call the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723).

Barry: Has exporting changed your approach to business? Has it had an effect on you as a person who’s taken a company international?

Brenner: Yes, definitely. Being an exporter has made us a better company domestically. By understanding what’s done internationally, I think that we’ve become better listeners to the needs of our domestic customers. And our international dealers have taught us things about what they see in their market that we’ve translated back into our domestic market. So it’s definitely broadened our scope.

Barry: Can you give me an example of something that you imported back into the United States that helped you be more competitive in all markets?

Brenner: Yes. For example, when we were going through our CE testing [for the European market], we learned some things about the wind-load rating of our doors. Since we do a lot of wind-load testing here in the United States already, we were able to bring back the knowledge that we gained from that process to reduce some costs and create a better product for the U.S. market. In this respect, exporting has been valuable for us on many levels.

Barry: If you had to speak to U.S. business owners who are either exporting just a little or not at all, what advice would you give them?

Brenner: I would say three things. First, dedicate your mind to the fact that this is something you actually want to be involved in. Second, dedicate your company’s resources in terms of people and money to that end. Third, get help from the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Trade Mission to the Emerging Market of Saudi Arabia

June 7, 2010

Francisco J. Sánchez is the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade

Wow.  Saudi Arabia is giving new meaning to the term “emerging market”.  I have just arrived to lead a public health trade mission here and in Qatar, and the trade and investment opportunities are incredible.  Saudi Arabia has plans to invest over 500 billion dollars in new infrastructure, health care, and education projects in the coming years, including many opportunities for the medical and water technology companies that are here with me.  Saudi Arabia not only has a friendly business climate, but the warm hospitality towards us and Americans in general has been deeply appreciated and noted by all.  I want to thank the exceptional Commercial Service team here on the ground for their efforts in developing what is clearly going to be a very successful trade mission.


Congresswoman Schwartz Presents Export Achievement Certificate to Woman-Owned-Business

April 20, 2010

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Tony Ceballos is the Director of the Philadelphia U.S. Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Commercial Service.

On Monday April 19th, I had the pleasure of joining Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA13) and Trade Specialist Cerrato in commending ISG Office Concepts for their successes in exporting.  ISG’s subsidiary Ancillare who manufactures and distributes pharmaceutical trial materials has recently completed successful trade campaigns to Singapore, Romania, South Korea, Germany, and Columbia.  In recognition of their exemplary success it was with great honor, to present President and CEO of ISG Joanne Santomauro with the Export Achievement Certificate (EAC).  The EAC is a form of accommodation reserved only select companies who embody a strong dedication to American ingenuity and export.  In addition, Bradley Schlegel of the online reporter was on hand to cover the event.  In his article “ISG Office Concepts Inc. honored for large number of exports”, President Santomauro commented “Small business is the engine of growth…It’s wonderful to recognize companies who help the economy grow.”  The event was a success which echoed the growing response of the Commercial Service to the President’s National Export Initiative.


Senator Casey Presents EAC to Pennsylvania Exporter

April 14, 2010

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Tony Ceballos is the Director of the Philadelphia U.S. Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Commercial Service.

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of heading a collaborative event between the U.S. Commercial Service and Senator Bob Casey.  We gathered at the headquarters of ABEC Inc., and for good reason.  ABEC Inc. is a biotechnology company that has grown their business with the help of the Commercial Service and expanded into several new markets through a handful of well orchestrated export campaigns. Most recently, ABEC has been preparing to sell their cutting edge bioreactors in China, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates.   Senator Casey made the journey to Hanover, PA to recognize and commend the great accomplishments of ABEC Inc. in their continuing success in the field of export.  As an acknowledgment of ABEC Inc.’s success they were honored with the Export Achievement Award, a rare honor which has only been presented to five companies in Pennsylvania this year. Moreover, this recognition identifies ABEC Inc. as a model for companies seeking opportunities in global markets. The company’s achievements and the Senator’s support of U.S. exports were prominently noted in Lehigh Valley’s  Express-Times article.


Duluth Export Summit

January 22, 2010

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Amelia Goeppinger is an International Trade Specialist serving in the Minneapolis U.S. Export Assistance Center with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a significant export summit led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar in Duluth, Minnesota  – the fourth summit she has held to promote the importance of exporting in her state.  Sen. Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion, is working with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to encourage the expansion of trade among businesses in her state through summits that can inform the private sector about economic opportunities through international trade.  Minnesota manufacturers and service providers play a major role in trade around the globe, and their participation is expected to increase as the world’s economy grows.

The senator kicked off the Duluth Export Summit by championing the relationship between exports and job creation, and during the summit she facilitated and led a panel discussion on the opportunities of exporting with local experts from the Minnesota office of ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service and representatives from the Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Trade Office.  Thirty representatives from local businesses and other interested parties listened to the presentations, which were followed by a spirited question-and-answer session.

My client, Epicurean Cutting Surfaces, was the highlighted company.  The local Fox News channel interviewed Dave Benson, Epicurean’s chief financial officer, and I was asked to highlight and elaborate on the successes of the Featured U.S. Exporter (FUSE) service – which Epicurean is using effectively.  FUSE successfully identified qualified distribution partners for the company.

The success of the export summit is hopefully going to be replicated as an example of how the International Trade Administration, through its U.S. Commercial Service offices, collaborate with state congressional offices, exporting companies and local export resources to educate firms on the link between export growth and job creation.


Green Build Road Show – Moving on to Denver

November 5, 2009

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Thomas Moore is Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy. Mr. Moore has previously served as the U.S. Commercial Service’s Deputy Director General, overseeing 2,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

After two successful days in Pittsburgh, the U.S. Commercial Service’s Green Build Road Show landed in an unseasonably sunny and warm Denver, Colorado, for another two-day program touting the unparalleled export opportunities in Europe’s green build and renewable energy sectors.

During the morning program, an audience member posed an interesting question:  Did we have any optimism that the United States would follow and match Europe’s current lead in the domestic deployment of these technologies?  As it turned out, the questioner had arrived late and missed most of the morning presentations.  Otherwise, he would have known that he was addressing a roomful of green entrepreneurs with strong confidence in an inevitable low-carbon future.

The Road Show had touched down in exactly the right place:  Denver is a hotbed of green technology development.  While the Road Show was conceived to educate U.S. companies on the European green build market, it has also been an eye-opening learning experience for the U.S. Commercial Service’s European officers and industry specialists.  We have found exactly what we were looking for:  A rich vein of new and innovative products and specialized expertise that should find an attentive market in Europe.

Pam Reichert, the State of Colorado’s Director of International Trade, opened the program with a description of Colorado’s strong commitment to what they have creatively coined the “New Energy Economy.”   “We’ve become a template for the rest of the nation for creating jobs, diversifying our energy portfolio, increasing energy security, and reducing our carbon footprint,” she said, citing the State’s success in attracting European investment in green technologies and in exporting nearly $2 billion last year to Europe.

The morning program featured presentations by two Colorado entrepreneurs who epitomize this success and should serve as encouraging role models – and mentors – for others to follow.

Dan Kigar, CEO of The Colorado Yurt Company, described his experiences in exporting 25 tent-like yurts for a major cultural exhibition in Paris.  Dan plans to conquer the world with his tent structures based upon the famous design of Genghis Khan, updated to the 21st century and pushing the envelope in use of sustainable technologies and recycled products.  He also cautioned exporters to beware of “bumps in the road” such as EU standards conformity issues, and he thanked the Commercial Service in France for helping him overcome these obstacles when they arose.

Mark Chen, Marketing Director for Abound Solar, discussed his company’s success selling thin-film solar photovoltaic modules in Germany, the world’s largest solar market with 50 percent annual growth in recent years.  Mark elicited laughs from the audience when he compared the bureaucratic paperwork required by Germany for a solar installation – two pages – versus the tabletop full of paper required by California.  But he did caution companies that they would face difficulties, albeit surmountable, in dealing with the European Union’s regulatory regimes for chemicals and electronic products.  (FYI:  The Commercial Service can help!)

The keynote speaker at lunch was David Hiller, Executive Director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, a joint venture of four premier public research universities in partnership with the private sector, and an important element in the infrastructure that has attracted foreign investment to Colorado.  David highlighted the strong public support and commitment among Coloradans for clean energy solutions.

Will this public commitment be replicated nationally, as one audience member wondered?  We had a room full of people betting their sweat and financial equity that it would!  On a personal note, it was wonderful to renew acquaintances with our top-notch U.S. Commercial Service colleagues in the Denver Export Assistance Center.  Kudos for a fantastic job organizing this event!


Big Business at Big Iron

November 2, 2009

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Heather Ranck is Director of the Fargo, North Dakota US Export Assistance Center. She is also active on the Agribusiness Team, and in that capacity she promotes the export of US-made agricultural machinery throughout the world.

So Much to Do, So Little Time

I keep telling myself: sleep is overrated! Somewhere between the 1 a.m. airport pickup for my colleague arriving from China; and the 7:30 a.m. Ex-Im Bank finance meeting sleep tends to take a back seat to all the organizing, facilitating, entertaining and crisis management that is inherent in putting on any large event. The Big Iron Farm Machinery Show is the biggest agricultural machinery show in the Upper Midwest, and in 2007 we decided to make it a global event when the former Soviet countries began showing very high interest in our large scale farm machinery built in North Dakota. This, our third year, is once again packed with activity and opportunities for the 150+ foreign buyers who are descending on Fargo to learn about American large scale crop farming.

This year I focused my recruiting efforts on Africa, a new frontier for large scale farm equipment. Having lived in Mozambique and Congo, I wanted to scope out the prospects, so in May 2009 I took a 3-week trip to South Africa, Angola and Mozambique. After 144 meetings I learned a lot about the needs and opportunities for farm equipment in Africa. We had a delegation of 25 Africans at Big Iron this year, and I would like to see American technology helping increase food production in Africa.

The Big Iron International Visitors Program is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Commercial Service (the primary federal government export assistance agency) and the North Dakota Trade Office (a state of North Dakota trade promotion organization); and our combined team of 10 people coordinates very closely on all recruiting, events planning, logistics, interpreting, transportation and programming.

During the show, the hub of all the activity is the International Visitors Pavilion, for which the International Trade Administration’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) provided substantial funding for the meeting rooms this year. This is Grand Central Station for buyers and sellers, with meeting rooms, food and COFFEE!

We are always coming up with new elements to the program, and one of my new ideas this year was to hold an international soccer match. We had a beautiful, sunny day in Fargo and Fargo Parks let us use the best fields in Fargo. The game ended in a 4-4 tie, further ensuring international harmony.

I also have taken on the activity of ensuring adequate language assistance for buyers and sellers. I speak Portuguese, and therefore did quite a bit of interpreting for the Angolan delegation this year. We are fortunate to have 3 universities in the Fargo-Moorhead area, so we recruit student volunteers to facilitate business meetings throughout the week.

Big Iron 2009 was as exciting as ever this year with representation from 12 different countries, many of them new to Big Iron. It is thrilling to watch the years of effort leading to deals being negotiated before our eyes; and millions of dollars of US agricultural machinery being shipped all over the world.