Posts Tagged ‘Trade’

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Connecting America’s Rural Communities to Global Trade

September 9, 2021

Heather Ranck leads the U.S. Commercial Service’s Rural Export Center

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An image of a tractor in a field

Rural areas are known for open sky, forests, fields, and small towns. While thought of as being distant from foreign affairs, rural America is an export powerhouse of food, energy and a vast array of innovative products.

On September 1, an important discussion was held at Swanson Health Products in Fargo, North Dakota, a leading vitamin and mineral producer with a strong national and global footprint. Swanson hosted a Rural Roundtable with U.S. Senators John Hoeven (North Dakota) and Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), during which five other rural businesses highlighted the value of in-depth customized market research.

This is where the International Trade Administration (ITA) and its export promotion arm, the U.S. Commercial Service, are helping. While rural American companies are located great distances from urban information centers and gateways, they now have access to the Rural Export Center, a new U.S. Commercial Service program established in May 2020 that allows rural American exporters to tap into data analytics and an extensive network of trade professionals.

The Rural Export Center’s signature service is RAISE – Rural America’s Intelligence Service for Exporters. The RAISE program is geared toward companies that seek to speed up their market selection and reduce the risk of poor decision-making on market selection, partner identification and entry strategies. The service leverages powerful databases, proven processes and the Commercial Service’s unparalleled global expertise. RAISE provides rural American exporters with customized market intelligence that will rank the opportunities in foreign markets, identify potential partners and provide actionable recommendations to help the exporters enter new markets faster and more cost effectively.

An image of Senator Hoeven (left), Heather Ranck (center), and Senator Klobuchar (right) seated. Senator Klobuchar is holding a microphone.
Rural Export Center Director Heather Ranck (center) moderates the discussion with Senator Hoeven (left) and Senator Klobuchar (right)

Swanson’s own example illustrates how the program works. As said by their CFO Jim Hamel, “Having knowledge is better than nodding and trusting. The research [provided by RAISE] was helpful to optimize relationships with our partners. Getting a comprehensive contact list was invaluable; and being able to share that with our new distributor allows us to hit the ground running.”

Another Roundtable participant, Mike Wagner, CEO of Sea Foam International (a manufacturer of fuel additives), shared his experience of using RAISE research. “Quality data is hard to obtain and very expensive. It is extremely time-consuming just figuring out what data sources exist, much less subscribing to them for the time needed to analyze a market. The RAISE program takes this process over and makes a tedious process quick and easy. I cannot over-emphasize the value of information-from local knowledge, data, resources and contacts, to name a few provided by the US Commercial Service.”

The two Senators also elaborated on the importance of rural exports in their states and the work of the Rural Export Center:

  • Senator Hoeven: “Exports are a vital part of North Dakota’s economy, with our state exporting $7 billion worth of goods in 2019, supporting an estimated 28,000 jobs. This comes as a result of our long-term efforts, both through the North Dakota Trade Office and now the Rural Export Center, to create opportunities for trade across industries, including agriculture, energy and manufacturing. With the Rural Export Center now in its second year of operation, today’s discussion is all about reviewing the impact of their good work and future opportunities to grow and diversify businesses throughout rural America.”
  • Senator Klobuchar: Today we heard from people doing businesses across Minnesota and North Dakota how important exporting is to their success. I worked with Senator Hoeven to create the Rural Exports Center to give our rural businesses the assistance they need to break into international export markets and compete in the 21st Century economy. In its first year, over 1,800 businesses have benefitted.”

Rural companies can learn more about the Rural Export Center and can submit requests for a free research consultation at https://www.trade.gov/rural-export-center.

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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

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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 www.selectusasummit.us. It isn’t too late to sign up, and we hope to see you there!

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Application Process Opens for U.S. Industry Groups Seeking Awards for Projects that Address Barriers to U.S. Exporters

February 11, 2020

By Brad Hess, Director, Market Development Cooperator Program, Office of Industry Engagement

The International Trade Administration (ITA) invites U.S. trade associations, professional societies, standards developing organizations, and other non-profit industry groups to apply for financial and technical assistance for projects that remove trade barriers to U.S. exporters. Applications for the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) awards are due April 27, 2020.

ITA is conducting a series of conference calls to provide further information on how to compete successfully for a 2020 MDCP award. Potential applicants can check the requirements to determine their eligibility to apply for the program.

Pitch Ideas Now to ITA Officials
Prior to the February 27 MDCP notice being published on grants.gov, applicants will have the chance to brainstorm project ideas with ITA officials.

Interested industry groups should contact Jessica.Dulkadir@trade.gov to discuss their ideas. ITA will also include trade professionals in this initial phase that can give potential applicants useful feedback.

2020 Funding Focus is Removing Trade Barriers
Historically, 30-40 percent of MDCP projects have included a strong focus on removing trade barriers. For the 2020 competition, ITA wants all projects it funds to have such a focus.

An MDCP applicant must propose a project that creates or sustains U.S. jobs by increasing or maintaining exports (priority 1 listed below). In addition, a successful applicant must show how its proposed project will address any two of priorities 2-6 below.

  1. Create or sustain U.S. jobs by increasing or maintaining exports.
  2. Address non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports such as discriminatory regulations, local content requirements, onerous standards or conformity assessment procedures, and other measures that may be unreasonably trade restrictive.
  3. Secure strong intellectual property rights protection and combat counterfeiting and piracy.
  4. Counter discriminatory trade policies such as “indigenous innovation” or “localization.”
  5. Participate in the formulation and encourage the adoption of standards that are industry-developed, market-driven, science-based, and internationally recognized.
  6. When appropriate, encourage the development of aligned regulatory requirements that avoid unnecessary costs on businesses.

Examples of Successful Trade Barrier Removal Projects
It takes time to address and remove trade barriers. This is why MDCP projects must last a minimum of three years. Realistically, most projects need even more time to remove trade barriers like discriminatory standards or regulations. The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) was able to help Indonesia establish a new plumbing code and implement a conformity assessment regime in just three years.

IAPMO advised Indonesia officials on establishing a national plumbing code then openedPhoto and Caption for MDCP Blog 020920 a lab to certify compliance of products with the new code. Indonesia’s newly adopted national plumbing standard, SNI 8153:2015, requires a lab certification of plumbing products. This allows architects, planners, builders, and building owners the certainty they need to choose the right products for the right applications.

Prior to the MDCP project and the adoption of the plumbing code, low quality plumbing products not up to standard were prevalent throughout the country. The shoddy products made urban living miserable for most residents. Their widespread use also made it hard for high quality U.S.-made products to compete. Now all plumbing products must conform to the same high standards.

A more detailed description of the IAPMO project is available at trade.gov/mdcp on the Addressing Trade Barriers page. Highlights of several other current and past MDCP trade barrier projects are available on this page as well.

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March Madness and ITA’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program

March 25, 2013

Steve Williams is the Operations Team Lead with the International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center 

So far in this year’s NCAA Tournament, we’ve International Trade Administration emblemseen several underdogs knock out the proverbial Goliath. As a small business owner, you might feel at times like an underdog. Just like Wichita State, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast, who have to compete against schools with bigger budgets and more highly touted recruits, small businesses can feel at a disadvantage when they compete overseas against companies who have a home-court advantage. It might seem intimidating, but just like these teams in the Sweet 16, you can come out on top with the right strategy.

If your company’s export goals are ever impeded by a foreign government-imposed trade barrier, you can call on the International Trade Administration’s Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC) Program to come into the game.  The TAC Program works to help remove the trade barriers you face. Since the inception of the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, the Program has initiated 735 market access and compliance cases in 104 countries, successfully removing 293 specific non-tariff barriers (in 80 countries) affecting a broad range of industries.

As a recent example, the International Trade Administration (ITA) helped Johnson Outdoors, a sporting goods manufacturer based in Wisconsin, regain ownership of its trademark in Russia. A Johnson Outdoors competitor registered the Johnson Outdoors’ trademark with Russia’s patent office and then attempted to sue Johnson Outdoors for alleged violation of the trademark. ITA spoke with Russian officials about proper protection of IPR. This resulted in the Russian company dropping its suit against Johnson Outdoors and relinquishing its trademark, allowing Johnson Outdoors to maintain $100 million in annual revenue.

Our program works by assembling a small team of experts from our 400 specialists, experts both in the country and the trade agreement relevant to your specific issue.  We can assist in helping to remove or reduce discriminatory or unnecessary trade restrictive barriers related to customs, rules of origin, government procurement, investment, services or standards testing, licensing, certification requirements, or even issues related to intellectual property rights. Best of all, our services are completely free of charge!

The next time you need some help with a foreign government trade barrier, contact us and we’ll be in your court.

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ITA: Helping Businesses of Any Sector Create Exports

March 5, 2013

Chris Higginbotham is a Communication Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

Deana Shick is an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration.

Deana Shick

Health care businesses in the Pittsburgh area go to Deana Shick if they have questions about exporting their products.

So do plastics companies. So do apparel companies. And so do chemical companies.

“We will help any American business in any sector – whether it’s veterinary equipment or ballistic glass or water sanitation,” Shick says.

The “we” she refers to is the International Trade Administration, or ITA. Shick is an international trade specialist in ITA’s Pittsburgh office, where she helps primarily small- and medium-sized businesses in the area learn how to compete on the global market. ITA supports the Obama administration’s mission to grow U.S. exports under the National Export Initiative.

“A lot of what we do is demystify exporting,” Shick says. “We hear a lot of businesses ask, ‘How can my small business compete globally?’ We help them do it.”

This help doesn’t just exist in Pittsburgh. ITA has more than 100 offices in the U.S. and in 70 countries around the world. Businesses can contact these offices to get help from experts in fields varying from aeronautics to agriculture, electronics to textiles.

Matt Hein is an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration

Matthew Hein

ITA’s help doesn’t just exist in these offices either. Shick teamed up with Matthew Hein, an international trade specialist at ITA’s headquarters in Washington, DC, to host a webinar for the Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Industry Group back in January (view a replay of the webinar ). The MEMS Industry Group (MIG) represents companies in the MEMS field and provides access and connections for member organizations to traditional and emerging markets.

“We used the webinar to inform these businesses about our capabilities,” Hein said. “We help businesses learn how to compete globally; we help them conduct research and develop strategy; we help them gain access to foreign markets. There are countless ways in which we can help and we love to do it.”

“The International Trade Administration’s webinar provided invaluable information on their products and services to MEMS Industry Group’s members,” said Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group.

“The small to medium-sized enterprises among our 140-plus member companies that have limited exporting experience will gain access to a ready and willing partner that can help them succeed at exporting,” Lightman continued.

No matter how small your business or obscure your product is, ITA is uniquely suited to help you create or increase exports. Whether it’s helping you make contacts in foreign markets, conducting research about potential buyers or helping you understand foreign shipping, ITA’s specialists are ready to assist.

“My favorite part of this job is seeing small- to medium-sized businesses make their first sale overseas and they’re able to add a couple of jobs down the line,” Shick says.

It’s a part of the job everyone at ITA enjoys. So how can we help your business or industry increase exports and create jobs? Contact one of our trade specialists in your area to find out how ITA can help your business succeed.

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U.S. Exporters Set to Reap Benefits of Russia’s Accession to the World Trade Organization

February 7, 2013

Matthew Edwards is Director, and Christine Lucyk is Senior Policy Advisor, in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

As 2012 drew to a close, Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank joined President Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, members of Congress, and representatives of the business community at the White House to mark a historic event in U.S.-Russia economic relations – the signing of legislation authorizing the President to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia. Calling the legislation a “win-win for American businesses and workers,” Blank hailed the legislation as a crucial step to ensure that U.S. businesses can compete on a level playing field and enjoy in full measure the increased access to Russia’s growing market which Russia extended through its agreement to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

These are benefits that the U.S. Government, in consultation with Congress and American manufacturers, farmers and service-providers as well as fellow with WTO members, worked hard to achieve, through intensive negotiations, and with bipartisan support by successive U.S. administrations, culminating in Russia’s accession to the WTO in August 2012.

What does this mean for the future? For context, as one of the world’s larger emerging markets, Russia has been playing a growing role in U.S. trade and investment, in particular as a market for U.S. goods. In 2012, American exports to Russia rose approximately 25 percent over 2011’s level, growing more than five times as fast as U.S. exports to the world as a whole. More exports means support for more American jobs.

U.S. exporters stand to benefit further from greater and more predictable market access, as tariffs fall in line with Russia’s commitments to reduce and bind tariffs on many industrial products. In the past, Russia was able to increase tariffs without limit. As a result of its WTO commitments, Russia’s tariffs will be bound at an average rate of about seven percent. U.S. exports in key sectors like information technology, civil aircraft, chemicals, agricultural products and many types of capital goods and equipment will see significant tariff benefits.

In the past, U.S. service providers were excluded from many sectors or faced barriers in those sectors where they were allowed to operate. Russia’s market access and national treatment commitments provide new opportunities in telecommunications, computer services, express delivery, distribution, financial services and audio-visual services.

Russia’s commitments on non-tariff measures, including obligations to abide by WTO rules on technical barriers to trade, subsidies, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, will limit Russia’s ability to take certain kinds of arbitrary actions, such as SPS and other measures that have restricted U.S. exports of meat and poultry, spirits, and dairy products.

Russia’s trade environment also should continue to benefit over time from commitments in the area of transparency. U.S. exporters have in the past come up against laws and regulations adopted without adequate opportunity for input from interested parties or without reliable information about regulations on trade in a given product or industry. Under the WTO, Russia is obligated to apply WTO rules on transparency, including formal establishment of notice and comment procedures for proposed measures affecting trade in goods, services and intellectual property and requirements to provide decisions in writing and new rights of appeal.

As the volume and breadth of U.S.-Russia trade grows, establishing PNTR has provided the U.S. with more tools and the leverage to hold Russia accountable for the obligations it has undertaken, and to defend U.S. economic interests in Russia’s market. In the coming months, the International Trade Administration plans to step up our outreach to advise U.S. industry of new opportunities in Russia’s market – as well as its remaining challenges. These challenges still can be considerable, as indicated in the World Bank’s most recent “Doing Business” rankings, where despite jumping eight places in the rankings, Russia placed 112th out of 185 economies surveyed.

The Commerce Department will be working under the U.S.-Russia Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group (part of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission) to continue to bring U.S. business interests to the fore in discussions with our Russian counterparts on ways to further expand this growing trade relationship in ways that benefit U.S. industry and U.S. workers.