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Blog Entries from March 2012

India Trade Mission: Day 5 - Welcoming Indian Travelers to Visit the United States

Secretary Bryson addressing luncheon about the valuable experience American companies bring to Indian infrastructure projects

Commerce Secretary John Bryson today concluded his five-day business development mission in Mumbai, the commercial center of India. Today’s visit focused on promoting tourism for Indian citizens who want to visit America, as well as exploring opportunities for U.S. companies to promote their technologies and services in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector to support job creation in both countries.

Bryson had the opportunity to participate in the official launch of the Visit USA Committee India (VUSACOM), a public-private partnership whose sole mission is to promote and increase travel and tourism from India to the United States. VUSACOM members include travel agents, tour operators, service providers, and U.S. product representatives. In 2011, the United States had a $2.2 billion surplus in travel and tourism from India, and total spending by Indians traveling to the U.S. was almost $4.6 billion in 2011, up 15 percent from 2010. In addition, the number of Indian travelers to the U.S. reached a record 663,000 in 2011.

In addition to meeting with government officials in Mumbai, Bryson hosted a luncheon with companies that help finance infrastructure projects as well as a roundtable with companies that are involved in energy-related infrastructure projects. In both, he talked with U.S. and Indian business leaders about the importance of the U.S.-India commercial relationship and he encouraged development of new business opportunities between the members of the delegation and their Indian counterparts. He also talked about the great progress India has made in opening its markets to U.S. companies, but encouraged continued consultations to resolve issues such as market access barriers and intellectual property protection.

EHDD Could Not Have Asked For A More Inspiring and Productive Day!

Jennifer Devlin, Managing Principal, EHDD

Guest blog post by Jennifer Devlin, Managing Principal, EHDD

Ed. Note: EHDD is a San Francisco-based architecture and planning firm that pioneered green building in California.

We joined the India trade mission because it is a wonderful opportunity to mark the the opening of EHDD's Mumbai office this month. This week, the meetings set up by the U.S. Commercial Service with the Department of Commerce have been outstanding and have led to some key leads for new work. To share a quick story of what has already come of this visit:
We met with Amity University representatives from their Noida campus on Monday in Delhi. After an exciting conversation about the extensive expansion plans at Amity, and knowing we were on our way to Jaipur, they invited us to make a presentation to their students and colleagues at Amity University, Jaipur. Upon our arrival in Jaipur, Preetha Nair excitedly showed us the front page of The Times of India where our lecture was announced with "limited seating available"!

We took the morning off from the official business of the delegation and visited Amity University's Jaipur campus, where we were welcomed by Vice Chancellor Singh, his deputies, faculty and students. We spent time in a seminar format answering very challenging questions from the architecture students about climate change, the Kyoto Protocol and the efficacy of passive design strategies in buildings. We were imminently impressed with water research presented by a faculty member from the civil engineering department. After our lecture, to some 400 students and faculty, titled, "The Future of Green Building and Planning on University Campuses," we shared more time with students and toured campus buildings.

We could not have asked for a more inspiring and productive day! And this was only one experience-there have been countless more.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ellen Herbst, Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary

Ellen Herbst, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary, I support accomplishment of the mission of all of our operating units.  My job requires a combination of problem-solving, coordinating across bureaus and offices, and connecting people to the resources they need to successfully deliver results to the American people.

Much of the time, this involves working to improve the way we do things–how to be more effective and efficient in our processes-and measuring our progress towards our goals. The work is always interesting because I get to work with very dedicated people who deliver results across the broad portfolio of the Commerce Department. The people of the Department of Commerce are delivering results in areas as diverse as supporting the growth of regional economic clusters; managing grants to build broadband networks; providing severe weather warnings earlier than ever before; delivering cutting edge measurement science and protecting our business’ intellectual property.

I have been working for 32 years and have been very fortunate in my career. My good fortune started with parents who supported all three of their daughters by setting high standards; by instilling a strong work ethic, perseverance and a “can do” attitude and by teaching us to live by the Golden Rule. I was fortunate to enjoy the process of learning and receive a wonderful formal education. And finally, I have been fortunate in the support of many mentors, both formal and informal, throughout my career.

India Trade Mission: Day 4 - Promoting Business Investment in the United States

Secretary Bryson tours the Mumbai International Airport Expansion Project

Commerce Secretary Bryson was in Mumbai today, the third and final city in his business development mission to India. In addition to exploring opportunities for the 16 U.S. businesses on the mission to promote their technologies and services in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector, the visit focused on the president’s SelectUSA initiative.

In the morning, Secretary Bryson and the delegates toured a new terminal being constructed at Mumbai International Airport and met with airport management. Several U.S. companies have provided services and equipment to the airport, playing a major role in helping to modernize one of India’s busiest airports. One of the firms on the trip, CH2M Hill, has been providing Program Management services at the Mumbai International Airport since the project started in 2007. In their role, CH2M Hill optimised the master plan, prepared detailed elements for tendering and provided inputs for the selection of the contractor and various sub-contractors. They have also provided oversight to ensure that both the cost and schedule are effectively managed as the construction progresses. This has been accomplished by providing a mix of specialist aviation experts from the US and local trained resources.

Following the tour, Bryson met with Indian industry leaders and investors to talk about SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America. India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, is a priority market under the SelectUSA initiative. Bryson also delivered remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), where he talked about how the U.S.-India bilateral relationship is stronger than ever, and encouraged Indian investment in the U.S. as a means of fostering economic growth and job creation in both countries. In his remarks, he also highlighted the importance of this week’s renewal of the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue, as well as moving forward in discussions to establish a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which would support greater stability and protections for investors in both countries. Following his remarks, the Secretary formally inaugurated the U.S-India Investors Forum (USIIF), a group of 35 Indian CEOs interested in investing in the United States.

$200 Million Post-Disaster Funding to Help Jumpstart Regional Economies

Official EDA seal

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine

When a natural disaster hits a community—whether it is a flood, a tornado, or any other kind of disaster—it does more than wreak havoc on homes and personal lives. It also has devastating, long-term effects on the economic life of those communities, destroying vital infrastructure, such as public utilities, transportation links, and communications systems on which businesses depend.

I’m happy to announce today that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is making available $200 million in funds for communities affected by disasters in fiscal year 2011. These funds are designed to mitigate those long-term effects on business infrastructure and allow communities to bring their economies, and the jobs that come with them, back to life.

It’s no secret that the funding EDA provides is vital to ensuring the long-term economic health of communities affected by a disaster. In Joplin, Missouri, for example, EDA provided $341,000 after that community was devastated by tornadoes in 2010. Those funds allowed the state to hire economic recovery coordinators who were instrumental in building strong public-private partnerships that have been critical to restoring the economic vitality of that region.

LORD Corporation Joins Secretary Bryson on India Trade Mission

William Austin, Director of Government Affairs, LORD Corporation

Guest blog post by William Austin, Director of Government Affairs, LORD Corporation

ED Note: LORD Corporation designs, manufactures and markets mechanical devices and electromechanical systems to control vibration, motion, and noise; formulates, produces and sells general purpose and specialty adhesives, coatings, and electronic materials; and develops products and systems utilizing magnetically responsive technologies.

We are honored to participate in U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson’s first trade mission to India. With global corporate headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, our company has plans to grow its business in India, and Secretary Bryson’s trade mission is helping us connect to new opportunities and develop new critical relationships. The agenda has enabled us to interact with Indian government and business leaders to gain a better understanding of where emerging market needs intersect with our solutions and products.

Secretary Bryson and his team have put together a packed agenda that is opening doors to senior-level decision-makers in this dynamic and growing market.  With stops in New Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai, we are meeting with a variety of companies and government executives. We are learning more about emerging opportunities through these sessions, and building new relationships that will create value for our presence in India.

India Trade Mission: Day 3 - Bringing the Business Development Mission to Jaipur

Secretary Bryson Planting a Tree at a new Mahindra World City Development

In a first ever visit to Jaipur by a U.S. Commerce Secretary, Secretary Bryson led his 16-business trade delegation there to see first-hand the vast business opportunities available in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector and to promote bilateral cooperation on innovation.

Upon arrival in Jaipur, Secretary Bryson and the delegation met with senior Rajasthan state government officials and business leaders to explore how U.S. technology and products can support Rajasthan’s infrastructure development goals. Bryson said he is confident that trade between the U.S. and Rajasthan will grow substantially as a result of this mission.

He also gave remarks before a group of Rajasthan industry representatives, where he discussed trade and investment opportunities that benefit both the United States and India. Bryson said the bilateral investment relationship between the U.S. and India is stronger than ever. U.S. direct investment in India is now over $27 billion across a wide range of sectors including services, manufacturing, information and technology. At the same time, India is a fast-growing source of foreign direct investment into the United States. Indian companies employ tens of thousands of American workers in professional, technical, and scientific services – as well as other industries. Bryson welcomed this increase in foreign direct investment in American companies and economy.

Asia Pacific Business Outlook: Twenty Five Years and Many More Opportunities

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaks during the APBO Conference (Photo USC Marshall School of Business)

Guest blog post by Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J. Sánchez 

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

This is my second year keynoting the 25-year old USC Marshall School’s Asia Pacific Business Outlook (APBO) Conference. It was great to see the diversity of participants, from representatives of businesses across the United States, as well as non-profit organizations, chambers of commerce, and trade associations from both the United States and countries in Asia and Latin America.

It seems as though it’s also a reunion and convergence of sorts of 16 Senior Commercial Officers (SCOs) from Asia and local Commercial Service trade specialists. For the first time, we have the SCOs from Brazil and Russia joining the conference, contributing their insider knowledge and providing market briefings in one-on-one counseling sessions.

During my address yesterday, I was able to outline our ongoing priorities here at the International Trade Administration and across the Obama Administration as well as provide updates on some major accomplishments achieved in the past few years.

This month marks the two-year anniversary of the President’s National Export Initiative and good things are happening. Last year, U.S. exports surpassed $2 trillion for the first time in history. They supported nearly 10 million jobs, an increase of more than a million when compared to 2009 numbers. So the formula is pretty clear: exports benefit jobs, businesses and the national economy. That’s why we’ve got to continue to increase U.S. exports.

India Trade Mission: Day 2 - Promoting U.S.-India Business Partnerships

Secretary Bryson rides New Delhi's new Metro Airport Express line

Secretary John Bryson promoted partnerships between U.S. and Indian businesses as he discussed the U.S.-India trade relationship during meetings with several Indian government officials in New Delhi today, the second day of his five-day trade mission to India.

“It’s clear that if American and Indian businesses work together, we can build India’s infrastructure in a way that brings inclusive growth, greater prosperity, and job creation in both countries,” Bryson said. “U.S. companies stand ready to help meet India’s infrastructure development objectives, provided our firms have market access for both goods and services.”

In the morning, Secretary Bryson gave remarks at a breakfast sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce and U.S.-India Business Council. Bryson reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to working with the Indian government to level the playing field for U.S. firms, thereby helping to pave the way for more commercial collaborations.

Bryson and the delegation participated in a GEMS/infrastructure-focused GEMS hosted by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. The discussion focused on infrastructure procurement and investment opportunities in states and GEMS cities involved in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. He said one of his most important goals this week is to gain a better understanding of the full commercial potential of India’s many regions. Bryson traveled to the airport on the new Metro Airport Express Line (photo)–an example of New Delhi's growing infrastructure sector–to fly to Jaipur, where he will see DMIC projects first hand.  Full release

Spotlight on Commerce: Deborah Cohn, Commissioner for Trademarks

Deborah Cohn, Commissioner for Trademarks

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Commissioner for Trademarks at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), I oversee all aspects of the USPTO’s Trademarks organization including policy, operations and budget relating to trademark examination, registration and maintenance. The main functions of the Trademark office are the examination of applications for registration and the maintenance of those registrations. Trademarks are an important form of intellectual property that can be a company’s most valuable asset. Trademarks also serve a vital function in protecting consumers from confusion about the source of goods and services in the marketplace. 

I first joined the USPTO in 1983 as an examining attorney. I was extremely fortunate because trademark law was an area that I enjoyed in law school and government service was very appealing to me. At that time, the majority of examining attorneys were men, but today, 67 percent of our examining attorneys are women! This is due in part to an increasing number of women in law over the past few decades, but the high percentage of women is also due to the flexibility here at the USPTO which allows employees to successfully balance work and family life. Telework and flexible schedules allow employees to create the environment that works best for them.

Women’s History Month means a great deal to me. As women’s roles have changed and expanded, many occupations that were traditionally filled primarily by men have benefited from the great talent and hard work of women. Here at the USPTO, I have been lucky enough to work with some terrific leaders who happen to be women. For example, my former boss, former Commissioner Lynne Beresford, was a great mentor and role model.

India Trade Mission: Day 1 - Commercial Dialogue

Secretary of Commerce John Bryson meets with Indian Minister of Commerce Anand Sharma (credit: Rakesh Malhotra, Department of State)

Today marked the official start of Secretary Bryson's five-day trade mission to India. In the morning he met with Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Aluwalia to discuss ways to strengthen the U.S.-India commercial relationship. He also spoke at an infrastructure roundtable discussion sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). India is planning to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure development over the next five years, and U.S. companies are in a unique position to offer their skills and expertise in partnership with Indian firms.

Secretary Bryson also witnessed the signing of two U.S. Trade and Development Agency grants supporting U.S. business investments in India’s energy infrastructure development. The first grant will support a feasibility study for Azure Power, a private sector solar power developer based in India. The second grant will finance a feasibility study for CESC Limited for the implementation of smart grid technologies across their electricity distribution networks in Kolkata, India.

During his address at a luncheon hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI), Secretary Bryson announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry have taken steps to renew the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue for an additional two-year term, until March 2014. The Commercial Dialogue is a key component of the bilateral commercial relationship and provides a forum for both the U.S. and Indian governments and private sectors to collaborate on issues of mutual interest, ensuring that the trade relationship is “win-win” for both countries. The agenda has been expanded to cover new areas of engagement on topics such as standards–including smart grids, intelligent transportation systems–and sustainable manufacturing.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dee Alexander, Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs

Dee Alexander, Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs

On December 19, 2011 Secretary of Commerce John Bryson appointed Dee Alexander as his Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs. As the Department’s Tribal Consultation Official, Alexander’s principal responsibility is implementing the Department’s Tribal Coordination and Consultation Policy, per President Obama’s Executive Order 13175 (PDF), which ensures meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of policies that have tribal implications.

Alexander works closely with the Minority Business Development Agency and other Commerce bureaus to promote the Secretary’s vision for job creation and economic growth on American Indian and Alaska Native communities. As the Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs, Alexander is housed in the Secretary’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.

While speaking at the National Congress of American Indians 2012 Executive Council, Secretary Bryson noted that one of his goals as Secretary of Commerce is to expand the relationship that already exists between the Department and Tribal Nations.

“This administration is committed to strengthening the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian Country. That’s why I am pleased to have Dee Alexander, a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe, join the team as my senior adviser for Native American Affairs,” Bryson said. “Dee’s leadership has already been critical in shaping Census policy that recognizes the important place of Native Americans in the United States. I am confident that she will continue to work to create economic opportunities for all Americans, including First Americans.”

Autodesk: Technology to Build India’s Infrastructure

Paul McRoberts, Vice President of Autodesk’s Infrastructure Business

Guest blog post by Paul McRoberts, Vice President of Autodesk’s Infrastructure Business

Ed note: Autodesk, Inc., works in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Customers across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, and media and entertainment industries-including the last 17 Academy Award winners for Best Visual Effects-use Autodesk software to design, visualize and simulate their ideas. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk continues to develop the broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art software for global markets.

Autodesk is honored to be a representative on this trade mission to India. On behalf of Autodesk, I thank the U.S. Commerce Department and Secretary Bryson for organizing the trip and inviting Autodesk.

This trade mission is focused on infrastructure business development. With 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world. India’s population is expected to overtake China’s in the next 10 to 15 years. The country needs to add 25 million homes a year to meet current demand, according to McKinsey and Co. There is also a pressing need for clean water, reliable power, transportation, sustainability standards and more.

In short, infrastructure is a key criterion for India to realize its economic growth potential. The Indian government’s 12th Five Year Plan states that the infrastructure sector will require an investment of about USD 1 trillion. Autodesk software is already being used to design many of the nation’s ambitious infrastructure projects, including:

  • The Mumbai Monorail, the nation’s first monorail. Once completed, it will be the world’s second-longest Monorail corridor. This sustainable transportation system will alleviate congestion in India’s most populous city.
  • Navi Mumbai International Airport, which is expected to have Phase 1 operational by 2014. There is great demand for this additional international airport to service the Mumbai metropolitan region. It is expected to handle 50-55 million passengers annually.

Autodesk has offices in New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. We also have over 100 Indian resellers. Together, we work closely with Indian customers across many industries, including architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing and media and entertainment. 

Going into the trade mission, Autodesk is looking forward to productive meetings with government agencies and private companies. We strive to be a trusted technology advisor for more infrastructure projects in India.

Off to India – On My First Trade Mission, Opportunities Abound

Secretary Bryson will meet with senior Indian government officials to advocate and promote export and investment opportunities in America

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

This weekend I am departing for India, where I will be leading a trade mission with 16 American companies. This will be my first trade mission and I am really looking forward to it. I will be meeting with senior level Indian government officials to advocate for U.S. export opportunities in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector, and promote investment opportunities in America–both key priorities of President Obama and this Administration.

India’s growth over the last decade has resulted in increased demand for products and services from countries like the United States.  America’s exports to India have grown from less than $4 billion in 2001 to over $21 billion in 2011. Going forward, India is expected to spend over $1 trillion on infrastructure development over the next five years, and a growing consuming class could lead to increased demand for a range of consumer goods and services.

Among other things, this trade mission supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 to create more good-paying jobs. Last week, on the two year anniversary of the creation of the NEI, the Commerce Department released new data showing that jobs supported by U.S. exports increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2011, and the value of U.S. exports exceed $2.1 trillion for the first time in U.S. history.

Spotlight on Commerce: Nancy Potok, Associate Director for Demographic Programs

Nancy Potok, Associate Director for Demographic Programs

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I direct the Demographic programs at the Census Bureau. We calculate annual population estimates for each area of the US, calculate the official poverty rate numbers, and work with data from the decennial census and the American Community Survey to create numerous reports and products that inform our nation about the changing characteristics of our growing population. We also conduct surveys on behalf of other Federal agencies such as the National Crime Victims Survey, which the Bureau of Justice Statistics uses to calculate the crime rate, the Current Population Survey, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to calculate the unemployment rate each month, and many others.  One unsung area of the Census is our strong international program. That group, in cooperation with USAID and other agencies, offers technical assistance to countries on how to set up their own scientific and objective statistical activities and conduct censuses and surveys of their population.

The President has laid out a vision to build an America that lasts, and the Census Bureau contributes to that future. Much of the data that we produce is used by state and local Economic Development Authorities to bring businesses to their area.  Businesses use the information to make relocation decisions and to target their marketing appropriately.  We also report, at various geographic levels such as states, counties, cities, and small towns, on educational attainment, income, poverty, how people make various use of government assistance programs, and other critical information needed to inform our communities on how we as a nation are doing and where we need to invest our resources to strengthen our future.  Without the data collected by the Census Bureau, we would not have the information we need to grow our economy, create jobs, improve our schools, build roads, and other activities critical to our civil society.

I grew up in Detroit, but have been living in the Washington, DC area for many years now. I earned my Masters in Administrative Science from the University of Alabama and then became a Presidential Management Fellow at the US Department of Transportation. I went on to earn my Ph.D. in Public Policy and Public Administration from the George Washington University. Since I enjoy school and learning so much, I’ve returned as an adjunct professor there, teaching in the Trachtenberg School of Public policy and Public Administration.

2010 Census Shows Asians are Fastest-Growing Race Group

Graph of the Percent Growth of the Asian Population 2000 to 2010

Commerce's Census Bureau has released a 2010 Census brief, The Asian Population: 2010 (PDF), that shows the Asian population grew faster than any other race group over the last decade. The population that identified as Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more other races, grew by 45.6 percent from 2000 to 2010, while those who identified as Asian alone grew by 43.3 percent. Both populations grew at a faster rate than the total U.S. population, which increased by 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Out of the total U.S. population, 14.7 million people, or 4.8 percent, were Asian alone. In addition, 2.6 million people, or another 0.9 percent, reported Asian in combination with one or more other races. Together, these two groups totaled 17.3 million people. Thus, 5.6 percent of all people in the United States identified as Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more other races.  Census press release

Spotlight on Commerce: Teresa Rea, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property (USPTO)

Teresa Rea on podium

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, I work alongside David Kappos in advising the President of the United States, and other members of the Obama administration, on matters relating to Intellectual Property (IP) policy. When wearing my Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hat, I help oversee the process by which our nation grants IP rights for cutting-edge innovations and technological breakthroughs. By protecting brands and ideas through trademarks and patents, companies are more readily able to attract investments, hire more employees, spur additional research & development, distribute their products in the marketplace and spawn new growth in new industries.

Making America a Top Tourist Destination: Commerce and Interior Keep Up Efforts to Increase Visitation

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

This month, more than a million visitors from across the country and around the world are coming to our nation’s capital to see the cherry blossom trees that bloom each spring among some of America’s most treasured historical landmarks. From the purchase of airline tickets to dining in area restaurants to staying in hotels, these visitors are infusing millions of dollars into the community and supporting local businesses.
As we search for ways to grow our nation’s economy, we must not overlook the travel and tourism industry as a source for economic opportunity. According to data released by the Commerce Department earlier today, tourism spending increased 8.1 percent in 2011 and supported an additional 103,000 jobs, for a total of 7.6 million jobs.
A big factor in the increase was a surge in international visitors to our country: in 2011, 2.5 million more international visitors came to the United States compared with the previous year. These international visitors spent an all-time record of $153 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services.
As this data reveals, the travel and tourism industry is one of the most important engines of our economy—in fact, it is our number-one service export. That is why President Obama recently announced the creation of a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, which charged us with leading efforts to develop recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to promote travel throughout the United States.

How does Commerce’s Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigation Process Work?

In the next few weeks, the Department of Commerce is scheduled to release a series of determinations regarding antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations. In light of this, we wanted to share an explanation of the process.

Following U.S. law, regulation, and consistent with international trade rules, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) has the authority to conduct investigations of the alleged subsidization or dumping of foreign products sold in the United States.   

If a U.S. industry believes that it is being injured by dumped or subsidized imports, it may request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties by filing a petition with both the Department of Commerce and the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). Import Administration is the agency within Commerce’s International Trade Administration that investigates foreign producers and governments to determine whether dumping or subsidization has occurred and calculates the amount of dumping or subsidization.

If Commerce determines that a petition satisfies all requirements under the law to initiate an investigation, the agency will publish a Notice of Initiation in the Federal Register. The Notice of Initiation will lay out a general history of the proceeding, including dates of official filings as well as the scope of the investigation, explain how Commerce went about making a determination of industry support, and details how the petitioners went about estimating the existence of dumping or subsidization.

Secretary Bryson Announces 16 Companies Joining his First Trade Mission to India

Secretary Bryson Announces 16 Companies Joining his First Trade Mission to India (State Dept. image)

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today announced the 16 companies that will join him on a business development mission to India, his first as Commerce Secretary. During the mission, Secretary Bryson will meet with senior-level Indian government officials to advocate for U.S. export opportunities in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector, and promote investment opportunities in America – both key priorities of the Obama Administration. The mission will take place March 25-30 with stops in New Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai.  

The trade mission supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 to create more good-paying jobs. Last week, on the two year anniversary of the creation of the NEI, the Commerce Department released new data showing that jobs supported by U.S. exports increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2011, and the value of U.S. exports exceed $2.1 trillion for the first time in U.S. history. The mission also supports efforts to increase investment in the United States through SelectUSA, America’s first national investment advocacy program. In addition, the mission will promote a new national tourism strategy focused on creating American jobs by becoming even more welcoming to visitors from around the world.

“This mission builds on President Obama’s historic visit to India two years ago, when he said before the Indian Parliament that the U.S.-India relationship will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. I couldn’t agree more,” said Bryson. “I am looking forward to connecting American business leaders to new opportunities in India’s rising infrastructure sector, and encouraging Indian businesses and individuals to invest in and visit the United States. India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and its large market presents an important opportunity for U.S. companies to sell their goods and services to some of the 95% of consumers who live beyond our borders and boost job creation at home.”  Full release

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Highlights Manufacturing and Exports in Florida

Secretary Bryson delivering his remarks at Pavilion Furniture

This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson traveled to Florida to meet with local business leaders and discuss his priorities for supporting advanced manufacturing and encouraging exports. On Thursday evening, Bryson delivered remarks to the National Association of Manufacturers Board of Directors dinner in Boca Raton, Fla. Friday morning, he visited the Port of Miami and took a tour of Pavilion Furniture, a Miami Gardens, Fla.  company that is working with the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service to expand the exports of its products. Following the tour, Bryson delivered remarks and joined Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and local business leaders for a discussion about how the private and public sector can work together to expand exports and create jobs.

Business leaders participating in the discussion included Mike Buzzella, President and CEO of Pavilion Furniture, Raj Rangaswamy, President of Target Engineering, and Luis Arguello, CEO of DemeTech. Target Engineering, an engineering services firm, will be joining Secretary Bryson on a Commerce-led trade mission to India at the end of the month. DemeTech Corporation, a producer of surgical sutures and blades, previously joined a Commerce Department trade mission to Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. has recently experienced dramatic job growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector. In the past two years U.S. manufacturing created over 400,000 jobs – over 80,000 in the first two months of this year alone. Bryson highlighted some of the Administration’s initiatives to support advanced manufacturing, including the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The Network, which President Obama proposed last week, would be a $1 billion investment in up to 15 institutes of advanced manufacturing research and experience across the country, designed to help make U.S. manufacturers more innovative and competitive.

Bryson also shared news on Commerce’s efforts to boost exports. This week marks the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Executive Order creating the National Export Initiative, when President Obama set the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Earlier this week, the Commerce Department released new data showing that jobs supported by U.S. exports increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2011. In 2011, exports supported approximately 9.7 million jobs, and the value of U.S. exports of goods and services exceeded $2.1 trillion for the first time in U.S. history. 

In addition, Bryson discussed the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), which went into effect yesterday. Korea is the world’s 12th largest economy, and under the new agreement, about 80 percent of Korea’s tariffs on U.S. industrial products are now dropping to zero. KORUS is America’s most significant trade agreement in nearly two decades, and is estimated to increase U.S. exports by approximately $11 billion, support tens of thousands of American jobs, and open up Korea’s $1 trillion economy for America’s workers and businesses.

At both stops, Secretary Bryson stressed that The Commerce Department is dedicated to providing business across the country the resources they need to build products here and sell them everywhere.

U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Provides Opportunities for U.S. Export Businesses

Korea Trade Agreement Enters into Effect

The United States-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS Agreement) enters into effect today, reducing tariffs on almost all U.S. industrial exports to South Korea and making it easier for U.S. exporters to successfully compete in the Korean market.

With the implementation of the KORUS Agreement, tariffs will immediately be eliminated on almost 80 percent of U.S. exports to Korea.

Tariffs will also be reduced on other industrial exports that are not made automatically duty-free—the average tariff rate on U.S. industrial exports to South Korea will be reduced from 6.2 percent to 1.1 percent. Most remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 10 years. In addition, the KORUS agreement will eliminate tariffs on nearly two-thirds of all U.S. agricultural exports to Korea. The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) can help exporters figure out when tariffs on their products will be reduced or eliminated (PDF).

The KORUS agreement means more trade for U.S. businesses and more jobs for American workers. The tariff reductions give U.S. exports a competitive advantage in the Korean market, creating new opportunities for companies to do business in South Korea and providing opportunities to expand the reach of their businesses.

For example:

  • Zeeland Farm Services, Inc. (ZFS) is a family-owned and operated agricultural and transportation business with over 200 employees. ZFS was able to break into the Korean market in 2008, and their annual sales revenues in exports to Korea have been around the $5 million mark. The base tariff rates on ZFS’s product categories range from three percent for cottonseed exports to eight percent for soybean meal exports. Under the KORUS agreement, all of these tariffs would immediately drop to zero, giving ZFS a competitive advantage in the Korea market.
  • iWood Eco Design is a Louisville, Kentucky-based manufacturer of custom wood-framed sunglasses. The company currently pays an eight percent tariff on its exports to Korea, Under the KORUS agreement, these sunglasses will enter the country duty-free, immediately creating cost savings for the company. Expedited customs clearance commitments in the pending trade agreement would also facilitate greater access to international delivery services.
  • Pipe Line Development Company (PLIDCO), a Cleveland, Ohio-based manufacturer of pipeline repair and maintenance fittings, currently employs approximately 100 employees. International markets, including Korea and other Asian markets, comprise 74 percent of PLIDCO’s export revenue. PLIDCO currently faces tariffs of up to eight percent on its exports to the Korea. These tariffs will be eliminated under the KORUS agreement, enabling PLIDCO to better compete with other top exporters to Korea, including those from the EU and Iran.

The KORUS agreement is also an important step toward meeting President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. This commitment to supporting exports is one way the Commerce Department is working to support an American economy that’s built to last.

Risk of Major Flooding in Spring is Low for the First Time in Four Years

U.S. Spring Flood Risk Map for 2012

Drought lingers in southern Plains and Southeast, expands in West and upper Midwest

For the first time in four years, no area of the country faces a high risk of major to record spring flooding, largely due to the limited winter snowfall, according to NOAA’s annual Spring Outlook, which forecasts the potential for flooding from April to June.

“We’re not forecasting a repeat of recent historic and prolonged flooding in the central and northern U.S., and that is a relief,” said Laura Furgione, deputy director, NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The severity of any flooding this year will be driven by rainfall more so than the melting of the current snowpack.”

The Ohio River basin including portions of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, along with parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are the only areas with an above-normal risk of flooding as soil moisture and river levels are currently above normal. Additionally, odds favor above-average April rainfall for the Ohio River basin.

River and stream water levels are normal to below normal for most of the country and there is less snow pack than in previous years. As a result, there is a normal flood risk from the Northeast, through the mid-Atlantic, across most of the northern Plains and into the Northwest. However, heavy spring rainfall can lead to flooding at any time, even in areas where overall risk is considered at or even below normal.  Drought outlook infographic  |  Full NOAA release

SelectUSA Brings Investment to the United States

SelectUSA logo

Guest blog post by Barry Johnson, executive director of SelectUSA

Today, Commerce Secretary John Bryson met with a number of U.S. ambassadors to countries where SelectUSA, the first federal initiative to help drive investment to the United States to create American jobs, is being implemented. The Commerce Department recently launched SelectUSA in ten countries, including China, Brazil, India and South Korea, and their discussion focused on opportunities for further collaboration. The ambassadors were visiting Washington as part of the State Department’s Global Chiefs of Mission Conference.

One of Secretary Bryson’s top priorities is attracting more investment to the United States to create good American jobs. The Commerce Department, through SelectUSA, is helping to tell the story of why America is the best place for companies from around the world to invest, to hire and to build the future of their businesses.

As part of SelectUSA, the Commerce Department will serve businesses seeking to invest or expand in the U.S. and the state, cities and regions that they seek to attract  and host the business. SelectUSA serves as an information clearinghouse on federal rules, regulations and resources; advocates on behalf of the U.S. as the premier investment destination; and functions as an ombudsman to resolve federal-level problems, issues and impediments to investment.

The Commerce Department just finished two-day training sessions with commercial service officers in ten fast-growing pilot markets to conduct outreach to potential investors and perform SelectUSA investment promotion. Together, these countries represent approximately 30 percent of all foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. They also reflect both the largest and fastest growing sources of FDI, as well as posts that have been the most active on investment promotion issues.

NACIE Promotes Innovative Lab-to-Market Strategies to Spur Economic Growth

Erskine and Kappos at NACIE meeting

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine, Economic Development Administration

Today I joined my colleagues, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos and Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Phillip Singerman, at a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) in New Orleans. The quarterly meeting of NACIE’s board coincided with local Entrepreneurship Week activities and brought together over 250 entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders to discuss how we can best support them.

NACIE is a public-private partnership started by the Department of Commerce to provide guidance on how we can best support the growing businesses that will create the jobs and industries of the future. When I addressed the forum, I highlighted the Obama administration’s commitment to making investments in innovation and entrepreneurship including the recently announced $15 million Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which will boost rural innovation clusters and the soon-to-be-announced next round of the i6 challenge to reward innovative, groundbreaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization.

NIST/CU 'Star Comb' Joins Quest for Earthlike Planets

Infrared starlight (three solid band) by comparing the missing light to a laser frequency comb reference "ruler" (sets of bright vertical bars indicating precise wavelengths, which increase from left to right).  Credit: CU/NIST/Penn State

If there is life on other planets, a laser frequency comb developed at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may help find it.

Such a comb—a tool for precisely measuring frequencies, or colors, of light—has for the first time been used to calibrate measurements of starlight from stars other than the Sun. The good results suggest combs will eventually fulfill their potential to boost the search for Earth-like planets to a new level.

The comb was transported to the Texas mountains to calibrate a light analyzing instrument called a spectrograph at the Hobby-Eberly telescope. A University of Colorado Boulder (CU) astronomer and Pennsylvania State University students and astronomers collaborated on the project.

“The comb worked great,” says NIST physicist Scott Diddams. “In a few days, it enabled measurement precision comparable to the very best achieved in the same wavelength range with much more established techniques—and we hope the comb will do much better as the new technique is perfected.”

The NIST comb calibrated measurements of infrared starlight. This type of light is predominantly emitted by M dwarf stars, which are plentiful in Earth’s part of the galaxy and might have orbiting planets suitable to life.

On the Two-Year Anniversary of the National Export Initiative Successes Abound

National Export Initiative

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Executive Order creating the National Export Initiative (NEI), when President Obama set the ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.

To mark this anniversary, we released new data today showing that jobs supported by U.S. exports increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2011. Building on strong growth in 2010, exports supported approximately 9.7 million jobs in 2011 and the value of U.S. exports of goods and services exceeded $2.1 trillion for the first time in U.S. history.

This new data further confirms the good news that exports support an increasing number of American jobs. At the same time, it is also a reminder that we cannot afford to let up on our efforts to help U.S. businesses build it here and sell it everywhere. We must maintain the track record of the past two years and intensify our support of U.S. companies in selling their goods to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live beyond our borders by helping to create opportunities and a level playing field. We know that when American businesses and workers get a fair shot, they can compete and they can win.

The NEI's Second-Year Anniversary: Supporting American Jobs

The Port of Baltimore – one of the top ports in the country – handles around 30 million tons of cargo and 400,000 containers annually.

Guest blog post by Francisco Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Earlier today – on the second anniversary of the President’s National Export Initiative – Commerce Secretary John Bryson announced that the number of American jobs supported by U.S. exports increased 1.2 million from 2009 to 2011. In total, U.S. exports now support 9.7 million jobs, serving as a bright spot in our economy, and helping to fuel our economic recovery. In addition, last year, there were a record $2.1 trillion in U.S. exports.  And there is a lot more room to grow.

Never has that been more clear than today.

I was in Baltimore this morning to see our efforts to support U.S. exporters first-hand. The Port of Baltimore – one of the top ports in the country – handles around 30 million tons of cargo and 400,000 containers annually. As the head of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), I was proud to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Port of Baltimore to expand cooperation on export promotion activities here at home.

The Port was also one of 12 U.S. organizations that participated in the February 2012 ports trade mission to India that I led on behalf of the Department of Commerce. During this mission, the Port of Baltimore signed a sister-port Memorandum of Understanding with the Mundra Port, in an effort to increase trade between the two ports. Two way trade between India and the U.S. grew to $58 billion in 2011 and is an NEI priority market. That is why Secretary Bryson will be leading his first trade mission to India at the end of the month to further opportunities for U.S. businesses in this region.

Promoting Best Practices in Exports and Foreign Direct Investment to Spur Economic and Job Growth

Promoting Best Practices in Exports and Foreign Direct Investment to Spur Economic and Job Growth

When President Obama first announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) two years ago—with its goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014—there may have been some who wondered what this had to do with domestic economic development. But the answer is simple: a lot. From the worker in an auto plant owned by a foreign firm, to the many service businesses across the country selling to overseas visitors, to the U.S. companies from every sector selling their products and services to foreign buyers, America’s economic vitality is very much tied to the world market. And the benefits are many: more jobs, higher wages, and the overall prosperity that comes when we are selling to billions of consumers worldwide.

One often-overlooked element of international trade is foreign direct investment (FDI). The United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world. Foreign-owned companies operating in the United States support more than 5.3 million U.S. jobs, and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms account for 21 percent of U.S. exports. The total stock of FDI in the United States—$2.3 trillion—is equivalent to nearly 18 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

But there is room for such investment to grow: the U.S. share of world FDI has been declining since the 1990s, as other economies aggressively compete to attract such investment. One impediment to FDI growth in the United States has been the lack of concrete tools and strategies available to local economic development practitioners that could help them more effectively leverage their communities’ competitive strengths to expand exports and attract FDI.

Global Biometric Leaders Attend International Biometric Performance Conference at NIST

image of thumb print

Anyone who enjoys police dramas on TV knows that biometrics such as fingerprints and DNA are used to match criminals to crimes. But increasingly, biometrics are being used in public and private arenas to ensure access to computers and buildings, or to authenticate that you are really you when traveling internationally with an e–passport. One day, biometrics may be used to authenticate who you are when banking or buying something on the Internet.

Last week, biometric experts from across the globe have been attending the International Biometric Performance Conference at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. This applied research conference was focused on identifying fundamental, relevant, effective and new performance metrics for biometric systems and determining and sharing best practices for performance evaluation and calibration as they relate to design specifications and day-to-day operations. The goal is for people and computer systems to know reliably who is who.

Building America’s Future: Smart Investments in Advanced Manufacturing

From the front row, Secretary Bryson watches President Obama at the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Manufacturing Plant

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

I had the opportunity today to join President Obama on a visit to the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe facility in Prince George’s County, Virginia. This facility manufactures components of some of the company’s most advanced airplane engines.  The company announced that it is planning to add 140 new jobs at Crosspointe and more than 100 additional jobs in Indiana manufacturing components for aircraft wings. 

As I have said and as the President said today, we are fully committed to helping U.S. businesses build things here and sell them everywhere.  The Crosspointe facility is an important example of how we are doing just that, and it was remarkable to have the opportunity to see these efforts in action.

Crosspointe received a $4 million investment from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help establish the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM).  Later this summer, the CCAM, an applied research center developed by eight companies, the state of Virginia, and three leading state universities, will open its doors.  This will help bridge the gap from research to product development while supporting the skills that workers need to get good jobs in advanced manufacturing.  In addition, CCAM will form linkages to local community colleges to promote workforce training and high-skilled employment.  The project is expected to create 128 jobs, while at the same time strengthening advanced manufacturing in the immediate area, and generating $22 million in private investment.

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Highlights Administration’s Gender Equality Efforts on Trip to Switzerland

Blank speaking from podium

Guest blog post by Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

It is tradition in March to celebrate Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on the changing role of women in society and their social, economic and political achievements. From the ballot box to the boardroom, today’s American women have paved the way for future generations by overcoming obstacles on their path to equality and empowerment.

It was with this message that President Obama commemorated March Women’s History Month last week, saying, “We cannot rest until our mothers, sisters, and daughters assume their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, and just society.”

The Obama administration is dedicated to helping blaze this trail. This week, I had the opportunity to speak about the administration’s work to support women–and particularly the evolving economic role of women in American society–during a visit to Bern, Switzerland.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Fighting Botnets

President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

In September, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, released Request for Information (RFI) to focus on the growing concern around a specific Internet security risk related to "botnets."

While security risks on the Internet continue to exist in many areas, one increasingly exploited threat is the global rise of botnets. A botnet infection can lead to the monitoring of a consumer's personal information and communication, and exploitation of that consumer's computing power and Internet access. Researchers suggest an average of about 4 million new botnet infections occur every month.

Working Locally to Boost Exports Nationally

Under Secretary Sanchez at the Brookings Institute (Photo Credit: Paul Morigi)

Guest blog post by Francisco Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

America is made up of different communities — each with its own character, challenges and opportunities.  Regional leaders have a unique view of these issues and bring to the table incredible insight into their respective regions.  That’s why the International Trade Administration (ITA) is firmly committed to working with these local leaders to utilize their insight, and ultimately help more American businesses expand into overseas markets.

This is important work because exporting supports American jobs, provides new opportunities for businesses, and makes significant contributions to the growth of the American economy. 

In recognition of these positive economic benefits, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010 with the goal of doubling U.S. exports.  On the eve of the NEI’s two-year anniversary — officially on March 12 — I’m proud to say that we are on track to meet this goal.  Last year, there were a record $2.1 trillion in exports.  Plus, exports comprised nearly 14% of U.S. GDP — another record.

Progress has been made, and we are determined to keep it going.  Key to this work is our partnerships with local and regional partners.  While ITA has a talented and dedicated staff doing great work in 108 offices throughout the nation, we recognize that we can have an even greater reach through partnership.

Case in point: Our work with the Brookings Institution.

Today, Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program released a report called “Export Nation 2012: How US Metropolitan Areas Are Driving National Growth.”  

Obama Administration Releases New $15 million Federal Funding Opportunity to Strengthen Rural Economies and Create Jobs

EDA Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Logo

The Obama Administration today announced a $15 million multi-agency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenge to spur job creation and economic growth in distressed rural communities. This competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council.

The Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge is expected to give out approximately 20 awards, depending on the number of eligible applications. To be eligible for an award, projects must benefit rural communities, but the applicant is not required to be located in a rural area. Nonprofits, higher education institutions, tribes and state and local governments can collaborate to apply for funding. Although businesses are not eligible to apply directly, applicants can also partner with the private sector on implementation.

Prospective applicants should register for a webinar on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. EDT. Read the guidelines for submissions and note the deadline for applications is May 9, 2012. The complete FFO is available on

In addition to the four funding partners the initiative is supported by nine other Federal agencies: Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Denali Commission; U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Department of Energy; Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Small Business Administration.

Secretary Bryson Meets with Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee

Nanofabrication facility at NIST where manufacturers come to study new ways to make advanced computer chips, nanoscale batteries, and other high-tech products.  Photo credit:  Photo by Kristen Dill

Yesterday, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at a meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee. At yesterday’s meeting, held at the White House, the Steering Committee discussed recommendations targeting issues in manufacturing, focusing on technology development, policy, education and workforce development, and shared facilities and infrastructure.

AMP is a collaboration between industry, academia and government leaders to accelerate the development of the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector and to shape the administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. AMP is guided by a Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, and Susan Hockfield, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their final report will be reviewed by PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in April. Though AMP is still at work on the recommendations, several were prioritized for early action and implementation by Secretary Bryson.

NOAA Issues Severe Weather Outlook Three Days Ahead of Tragic Tornado Outbreak

NOAA Infographic of Severe Storm and Tornado Watches and Warnings, March 2, 2012

Each year, the United States experiences approximately 1,300 tornadoes. No state is invulnerable to the twisting, destructive winds that emanate from dark thunderstorms–and last week, Nature’s fury was focused on the central and southern states. 

Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has in place a multifaceted tornado early warning system that includes general area outlooks days in advance and that gives individual cities and towns an average of 14 minutes warning before the potentially deadly tornadoes strike. Through a tremendous investment in research, observing systems and forecasting technology, NOAA’s National Weather Service issues more than 1,000 watches and nearly 30,000 warnings for severe storms and tornadoes each year. 

On February 29, 2012 that investment resulted in an outlook issued by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center a full three days ahead of the deadly outbreak. This outlook advised forecasters and the emergency management community that conditions would become favorable for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. 

Advances in research and technology have increased the average warning lead time from only five minutes in the early 1990s to 14 minutes in 2010, thereby giving people and communities more time to seek shelter and reducing loss of life. But technology can only do so much; individuals also need to be prepared for disaster. Visit to learn more. NOAA Weather Radio webpage  The Weather Channel, "Tornado Outbreak: As It Happened"

A Cross-Country Tour of American Ingenuity

USPTO Director Kappos engages with an audience member at an American Invents Act roadshow

Guest blog post by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

As I flew into the Windy City today, I couldn’t help but marvel once again at the ideas and innovations that continue to shape our lives in a myriad of ways we take for granted—from the thousands of components and systems in the airplane that brought me here to chips in my smartphone—patented and trademarked technologies that seek protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office are constantly shaping the way we conduct our daily lives.

So in order to best communicate historic changes to our nation’s patent system, I hit the road. And ever since kicking off our America Invents Act (AIA) roadshows in Alexandria, Virginia on February 17, Deputy Director Terry Rea and I have been privileged to meet with some of the inventors and entrepreneurs behind our nation’s greatness—remarkable men and women in exciting hotbeds of innovation as diverse as Sunnyvale, California; Salt Lake City; Dallas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Boston; and Chicago, with a final hearing to be held in San Diego on Friday.

The goal of these roadshows and hearings has been twofold: first, to explain the thinking behind the proposed rules for various provisions under the AIA—including new systems to challenge and evaluate patents, like supplemental examination, inter partes review, and post grant review. And second, to conduct a spirited and productive dialogue with our user community, whose input is vital to our mission of building a 21st century patent system. These efforts not only help advance President Obama’s strategy for unleashing American innovation, but it also supports Secretary Bryson’s commitment to leveraging intellectual property to boost American manufacturing, American exports and American jobs.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Trusted Identities

National Consumer Protection Week logo

On Monday, President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

One of the biggest problems facing consumers online is the heavy reliance on usernames and passwords.  Most Internet users are asked to create so many logins and passwords that they have to create coping mechanisms to keep track of them all, from using the same one as often as possible to writing them all down, none of which lead to strong security practices.  In fact, exploiting the inherent weaknesses of passwords was the top method attackers used last year, according to the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report produced by Verizon.  

General Counsel Kerry Amplifies President Obama’s Consumer Privacy Protection Message in Europe

Cam Kerry seated at conference table in Berlin

Guest blog post by Cameron F. Kerry, Department of Commerce General Counsel

As co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy, I am proud to have worked on the Obama administration’s comprehensive blueprint to improve consumer privacy protections, the “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy” (PDF).  As the president stated in the report, “we must reject the conclusion that privacy is an outmoded value.  It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”

This is the message I took to European lawmakers, officials, and businesses about the administration’s privacy policy framework. Central to the framework is the tenet that consumers who have confidence their privacy is respected are more likely to express themselves online, engage in commercial activity, and form social connections on the Internet. Consumer trust is essential for a strong digital economy, which in turn provides a platform for greater innovation and job creation.

Secretary Bryson Delivers Remarks at National Congress of American Indians

Secretary Bryson delivering remarks from dais

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at 2012 Executive Council Winter Session of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest national representative of Tribal Nations in the United States. Bryson spoke about Commerce Department initiatives to promote exports, job creation and infrastructure in Indian Country.
This administration is proud to partner with NCAI in the effort to forge new links between government and Indian country on behalf of Native American communities. At the Commerce Department, we have a host of programs where Commerce and Native American communities are working together to bring jobs and opportunities to Indian country:

  • The Minority Business Development Agency helps Native American-owned companies in growing their businesses. Over the past several decades, MBDA has worked with approximately 80 percent of the tribes and assisted over 25,000 Indian enterprises.
  • The Commerce Department has the lead federal role in implementing the President’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double exports by Native Americans and all U.S. companies by the end of 2014. For example, we have partnered with the University of Washington to develop the global marketing capacity of Native American tribes with a focus on tribal forest operations. 
  • The Commerce Department is a lead agency in promoting the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, an unprecedented initiative to spur economic growth through public-private partnerships. The United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota will receive $1.6 million grant over four years to implement the Upper Missouri Tribal Environment Risk Mitigation cluster, which includes about 20 tribes. The funds will be used to provide training and education for about 1,000 people, support over 100 environmental technician jobs, and create about 15 new businesses. 
  • Through our broadband grants investment program, we are working to increase access to high-speed Internet in Native American communities. Commerce awarded grants to five tribal authorities for infrastructure and public computer center projects, a subset of the more than 60 broadband projects that will directly benefit tribal communities. This includes funding to deploy broadband infrastructure in the Navajo Nation, in an area covering 15,000 square miles in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, where many residents lack even basic telephone service.
  • As part of the 2010 Census, the “Indian Country Counts Census Campaign” helped educate American Indians and Alaska Natives on the importance of returning their census forms. Overall, 5.2 million people, or 1.7 percent of the U.S. population, identified themselves as American Indian and Alaska Native. This was 27 percent increase in tribal population over 2000.

We know that the federal government doesn’t have all the answers. But we also know that by working with people on the front lines, we can help identify what works and build on that.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Privacy

Today, President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

 In February, the Obama administration unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” as part of a comprehensive blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth. The president’s report called on the Commerce Department’s NTIA to begin convening companies, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to develop and implement enforceable privacy policies based on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

NTIA is now moving forward and seeking public input on what issues should be addressed through the privacy multistakeholder process and how to structure these discussions so they are open, transparent, and most productive. Today, NTIA issued a formal request for comment (PDF). The comment period will remain open until March 26, 2012.

As NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling illustrated last week, we hope to receive meaningful suggestions and input from a range privacy stakeholders.  Their continued involvement will be key for the future of consumer protection and we need your help to make it a success.

The report, “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy,” (PDF) resulted from a comprehensive review of Internet privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy lead by the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Swears In Nine New Patent Judges to Help Reduce Patent Backlogs

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony for New Patent Judges

Guest blog post by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

As part of our ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, this afternoon I had the honor of swearing in nine new administrative patent judges who will help reduce patent backlogs. These nine talented and dynamic individuals will serve on the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), joining the dedicated public servants at USPTO who support millions of jobs in the intellectual property industry.

Today, a high share of companies regularly relying on robust intellectual property (IP) protections to attract investor capital and stay competitive. These IP-intensive firms create an average of three million U.S. jobs per year. More than ever, we must be efficient and effective in helping entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property.

America’s entrepreneurs are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Entrepreneurs provide us with better production processes, new advances in health, and improved consumer products. These are people who can move from ideas to products and from products to the marketplace. These activities strengthen our economy and our global competitiveness. And they create jobs.

March 1: Anniversary of Census Act of 1790

Relief by James Earle Fraser on Department of Commerce headquarters

Today is the anniversary of Congress passing the Census Act of 1790. President George Washington signed the law, which authorized the collection of population data by U.S. Marshals. Although the act included the specific inquiries marshals asked at each home they visited, they did not receive printed forms on which to record the data. Marshals used their own paper and designed their own forms—a practice followed until the U.S. government began supplying printed census schedules in 1830.

Census Day was on the first Monday in August 1790 and was conducted under the supervision of Thomas Jefferson. Today, the law requires that the census be conducted on or about April 1, and every ten years after that. The most recent decennial census was conducted in 2010, on time and under budget. The Census Bureau is part of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration. The image here is a limestone relief by James Earle Fraser, one of many panels adorning the Department of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C.

For more information about the first, 1790 Census, visit Census 1790 Overview and 'Pop' Culture: 1790 Census Facts