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Blog Category: Exports

President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

Spiral Candles, proudly made in North Dakota

Yesterday, President Obama announced new commitments in the “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, which is charged with bringing together federal trade-related resources for rural communities and businesses. This announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy for ensuring workers and businesses of all sizes, from communities large and small, benefit from the nation’s economic resurgence. 

The Department of Commerce also released data yesterday that show 26 states set new export records in 2014, and many of those states are in the nation’s heartland.

The Administration’s next steps in the “Made in Rural America” initiative build on input received from rural businesses and communities throughout the past year.  Following the President’s announcement of the initiative in February 2014, agencies led several regional forums across the country, a Rural Opportunity Investment conference last summer, and new partnerships to help more rural businesses – making everything from amphibious vehicles to aquaculture products – plug in to export assistance.    

Last year, we confirmed that rural businesses have the products and services in demand worldwide, and the drive to export – just like urban businesses. The challenge is improving their access to information and export services, including financing and logistics. U.S. Commercial Service – North Dakota Director Heather Ranck and rural companies spoke about that in this “Export Experts” video released last October.

Highlights from yesterday’s announcement include the following:

U.S. Exports Hit Record High for the Fifth Straight Year

Total Exports in 2014 were 2.35 trillion.

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Trade Agreements Will Help Accelerate Economic Growth

Today, the Commerce Department announced new data that show U.S. businesses exported $2.35 trillion of our goods and services in 2014, hitting a record high for the fifth straight year. U.S. goods exports increased 2.7 percent to a record $1.64 trillion in 2014. Records were set in exports of capital goods; consumer goods; petroleum products; foods, feeds, and beverages; and automotive vehicles and parts. Annual services exports hit an all-time high of $710.3 billion, led by record export levels in the travel, transport, charges for the use of intellectual property, and financial services sectors.

What does this mean for American businesses and American workers? Exports have been a key driver in our economic comeback. Exports support 11.3 million American jobs, and contributed one-third of our annual growth between 2009 and 2013. In some cities– like Kansas City, Albuquerque, Youngstown, Columbus, and Detroit – exports drove nearly all growth out of the recession.

As I have traveled across the United States, speaking with more than 1,500 CEOs and business leaders, I have seen firsthand the way exports are benefiting American companies and workers. Take Davenport Aviation, a certified distributor of spare parts and aviation equipment based in Columbus, Ohio.  Davenport Aviation is a small business – they now have eleven employees – but taking advantage of the global marketplace has helped them grow every year since they opened in 2009. Exports account for 99 percent of their business, and this year, because of increased demand, Davenport Aviation plans to add at least 3-4 new jobs.

All over the country, exporters like Davenport Aviation are growing and creating jobs. While America’s economy is on the right track, we have more work to do to ensure our growth is sustainable. Exports are a critical part of that effort, which is why President Obama has made increased trade a top priority. In today’s global economy, American prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and new customers overseas. We know that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, so gaining greater access to markets abroad will allow our companies to expand, hire more workers, and pay better wages here at home.

Enacting trade promotion legislation will give the President the ability to move forward on trade agreements that will open doors for American businesses, including small businesses like Davenport Aviation. Passing trade promotion legislation this year is critical. 

In addition, we must finish and implement two major trade agreements that would open up new markets to U.S. goods and services: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Once completed, these two agreements will give the United States free trade arrangements with 65 percent of global GDP and give our businesses a large base of new potential customers. For example, while the Asia-Pacific is currently home to 570 million middle class consumers, that number is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2030, and this Administration wants our American businesses and workers to have access to that opportunity. 

Data Snapshot: How Much Do Small- and Medium-sized Businesses Contribute to U.S. Exports?

SMEs accounted for approximately 35 percent of total goods export value -- continuing a steady growth trend of the past decade.

Guest blog post by Jane Callen, Economics and Statistics Administration.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said that “21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas.  Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages…”

Following on the President’s remarks, we thought it would be valuable to take a quick “data snapshot” of the most recent annual report on exporting companies published by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2014 report shows that small-and-medium-sized companies continue to contribute a larger share of our exports than in the past. As the below graph shows, in 2013 (the most recent year for which we have data), these companies accounted for approximately 35 percent of total goods export value -- continuing a steady growth trend of the past decade.

Exports of American products overseas are important to the economic health of the U.S., and these data highlight the significant ongoing role of small-and-medium-sized companies. Stay tuned to this space for regular data “snapshots” of what is happening in the world around us, as seen through our statistical lens.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jose "Pepe" F. Burgos, Director U.S. Commercial Service-Puerto Rico

Jose "Pepe" F. Burgos, Director U.S. Commercial Service-Puerto Rico

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Guest blog post by Jose "Pepe" F. Burgos, Director U.S. Commercial Service-Puerto Rico

My name is Jose F. Burgos. My nickname is Pepe and I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My mother was from the town of Aguadilla in the west part of the island, and my father was from Humacao on the opposite side of the island. I was raised in Aguadilla by my mother and brothers after my father passed away when I was four years old. When I was 13 years old, my mother and older sister passed away in a car accident. Then I was raised by one of my cousins and their family. I have one brother who lives in Baltimore and we are very close. I was blessed to grow in a very family-oriented environment surrounded by my cousins and friends.

At first I wanted to be a doctor, but when I start studying and got to physics and organic chemistry, I realized medicine was not for me. I decided to study business, but I was not sure what kind of business. I decided to study international business with the main purpose to obtain a job to travel around the world.

Eleven years into my career, I realize how big international business can be – that it is more than traveling and is a daily learning experience. I worked three years in the Puerto Rico Trade Company and I have been currently working for the past eight years as Director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Puerto Rico. 

My passion for international commerce grew during my academic years, ultimately leading to my earning a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business & Marketing from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and a professional development certification from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in International Trade Policy.

It has been a rewarding and amazing opportunity to be able to do what I always wanted to do and work in the field that I studied. 

Since 2006, I have been working as Director of the US Department of Commerce for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I have assisted companies from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in exporting to countries around the world, and provided advice with all the logistic components, including market intelligence, trade counseling, business matchmaking, and advocacy/commercial diplomacy support.

My support has helped companies survive difficult economic times and helped them be among the companies that are creating new jobs for residents in the islands.

5 Takeaways about Doing Business in Africa

In case you missed it during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum last week, the International Trade Administration (ITA) published a report that shows that the U.S. trade relationship with Africa is growing at an increasing rate.

ITA’s Report on U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment examines the economic statistics related to U.S. commercial involvement in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions. The report is part of the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, through which federal trade agencies are joining forces with U.S. businesses to take advantage of the growing export and investment opportunities available in the region.

Here are the five key takeaways of the report:

1. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Average GDP growth has surpassed 5.2 percent three straight years. The International Monetary Fund estimates that this will increase in both 2014 and 2015.

2. U.S. exports to SSA are at record levels. Merchandise exports reached $24 billion in 2013, an increase of $8.8 billion from 2009. The past decade saw the largest increase in value of U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa in history; U.S. goods exports have increased by 130 percent since 2000, or an average of 6.7 percent annually.

3. Small and medium-sized businesses are finding success in SSA. More than 92 percent of businesses exporting to Africa are considered small and medium-sized enterprises—those with fewer than 500 employees. They accounted for a 53 percent increase in the value of exports to the region from 2009-2012.

4. Most export growth originates from Texas, Louisiana, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Georgia. In total, these states accounted for 60 percent of total exports and more than 70 percent of growth in exports to SSA in 2013. Mineral fuel and oil drilling, automotive parts and supplies, precious metals, and boilers and machinery parts are the top export sectors to SSA common among these states.

5. Total U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa has grown by 37.5 percent since 2009. While world foreign direct investment position in 2012 was 27 percent greater than in 2009, U.S. FDI position grew by 40 percent during that period.

As evidence of the report’s positive outlook for U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa watch this short video of many of the deal signings that happened last week at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. 

If your business is ready to do business in Africa, visit or contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Supplier of Powerboats to the U.S. Military Started Doing Business in Nigeria

Note: This post is part of the U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories series highlighting the work of the Department of Commerce to strengthen the economic relationship between U.S. and African businesses. This series will lead up to the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5th, the first of its kind event, which will convene African heads of state and government, U.S. government officials and business leaders to discuss trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

Hann Powerboats’ customers include the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers – and now, because of assistance that the company received from the Department of Commerce, they can add another name to their impressive list: the Nigerian oil and gas company, MOP Marine.

U.S. businesses like Hann Powerboats are increasingly seeing tremendous economic opportunity in Africa, and the reason why is simple: Africa is thriving. From 1995 to 2013, Africa experienced an average annual GDP growth rate of 4.5 percent. In 2012, eight of the twenty fastest growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa, and, according to the IMF, in 2013, total U.S. two-way goods with the region were $63 billion. Africa’s potential to be the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Hann Powerboats, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – that is why the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce remain committed to assisting American businesses in finding opportunity in this economically expanding region.

Hann Powerboats became interested in expanding its business to Africa when it was approached by a potential client in Nigeria to secure MOP Marine’s need for patrol boats. Hann Powerboats asked for assistance from the Tampa Bay U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) and the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) team in Lagos to help with vetting this potential partner, and CS Lagos was able to facilitate meetings between Hann Powerboats and MOP Marine. The Tampa Bay USEAC then helped put Hann Powerboats in touch with the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. to help with them acquire proper documentation. The result of this assistance allowed Hann Powerboats to make sales to MOP Marine for over $4 million.

Supporting the Best Environment for U.S. Exporters

Supporting the Best Environment for U.S. Exporters

One way the International Trade Administration (ITA) supports U.S. exporters is through specific teams of specialists who focus on specific industry sectors.

From marine technology, to health care, to automobile manufacturing, ITA offers export support in a variety of sectors.

To promote professional development and to make sure our specialists stay on top of the latest business trends and opportunities, our teams come together to share lessons learned, study best practices, and discuss ways their industry is changing.

This month, the Environmental Technology team did just that.

Their week-long conference included various seminars which built on existing knowledge of export policies and emerging environmental technologies. These conferences benefit exporters because they keep the commercial service specialists up to date on the latest and greatest in their industry. The main focus of this year’s training sessions was ways the team can address pollution issues related to water, air, and soil, and to learn about new recycling technologies.

Other ways ITA supports environmental technology exporters are through programs such as;

The environmental sector is a large and growing industry. Environmental technologies make up a $735 billion global market with U.S. exports currently comprising about $45 billion of this market. Therefore there is much growth potential for U.S. envirotech exporters.

Industry-specific offices are just one of the ways ITA constantly works to make exporting easier for American businesses.

You can find out more about our industry teams and how they support exporters at Or you can contact the Environmental Technology Team so they can help lead you in the right direction.

Simple Steps to Expanding Your Business through Exports

Minority-owned firms employ nearly six million American workers and contribute one trillion dollars in annual economic output to the U.S. economy.

At the Department of Commerce and the Minority Business Development Agency we are dedicated to helping more minority-owned business leverage their competitive advantage and expand their business through exports. The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals how minority-owned firms employ nearly six million American workers and contribute one trillion dollars in annual economic output to the U.S. economy. This economic output includes significant exporting contributions. In fact, minority-owned firms are export leaders in 14 key industry sectors.

To celebrate World Trade Month we are kicking off a blog series to highlight valuable resources and information for minority businesses looking at exporting for the first time and firms looking to expand their existing exporting efforts. 

Here are six steps to start exporting:

Complete an export readiness self-assessment: Find out if you have what it takes to market your products or services into the global marketplace. Provide answers to nine questions and receive advice on your exporting potential.

Training and counseling: use online resources like webinars and training courses to learn the basics of exporting and increase your understanding of the exporting process. Access webinars and online courses from the International Trade Agency (ITA), U.S. Census Bureau Go Global Webinars, and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Develop your Export Business Plan: Use the SBA Export Business Planner to work through the process of gathering information and setting SMART goals and objectives. The Export Business Planner will help your business explore exporting options.

Conduct Market Research: It is critical for you to find the best exporting prospects for your business success. The U.S. government has the latest information on market conditions around the world. You can also use the Trade Stats Express to identify potential markets.

Find Buyers: Leverage opportunities at the local, state, and federal government levels to meet potential foreign buyers. Use reverse trade mission hosted by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency or overseas trade mission hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Many states government also host overseas trade missions check out your states business opportunities websites.

Investigate Export Finance Option: understanding the available grants, insurance and finance programs available to assist your firm as exporting options are critical to your exporting success. Start with federal resources at Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and SBA Export Loans

Take your business to the next level and begin to go and grow globally. MBDA and our national network of more than 40 MBDA Business Centers are here to help. Contact a MBDA Business Center to learn more about how exporting can increase your bottom line.

Also, stay tuned to learn more about the next phase of the National Export Initiative –NEI/NEXT! 

What’s NEXT for U.S. exports?

New data-based, customer service-driven initiative to ensure that more American businesses can fully capitalize on markets that are opening up around the world.

Exports are critical to the U.S economy. They fuel economic growth in our communities, support good middle class jobs, and unlock opportunity for American companies, entrepreneurs, farmers, ranchers, and workers, enabling U.S. companies to compete in the growing global marketplace. By selling Made-in-America goods and services to international customers, U.S. businesses – including small and medium-sized and minority- and women-owned businesses – are able to grow faster, hire more employees, pay higher wages, and help spread American ideas, innovation and values.

Recognizing the many opportunities exports create for our economy, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that the Obama Administration will build on the success of the National Export Initiative (NEI) by launching NEI/NEXT: a new customer service-driven strategy with improved information resources that will ensure American businesses are fully able to capitalize on expanded opportunities to sell their goods and services abroad. NEI/NEXT will help more American companies reach more overseas markets by improving data, providing information on specific export opportunities, working more closely with financing organizations and service providers, and partnering with states and communities to empower local export efforts.

In 2010, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI), a comprehensive government-wide effort to help U.S. companies increase exports, expand into new markets, and compete globally. Under the NEI, the United States has had four straight record-breaking years of exports – hitting an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year – up $700 billion from 2009. A new economic report released today by the Department of Commerce, shows that nearly one-third of the country’s economic growth since mid-2009 has been driven by exports. Nearly 30,000 businesses have started exporting for the first time. And most importantly, since 2009, the number of jobs supported by exports has grown by 1.6 million to more than 11.3 million – the highest in 20 years.

Even with all this success, far too many American companies remain focused on domestic markets. Less than 5 percent of U.S. companies export, and more than half of those exporters sell to only one market. To help bridge that gap, and look for new opportunities to help U.S. businesses export, the Department of Commerce, along with 20 federal agency partners last year began to take a fresh look at the NEI. This interagency group solicited extensive stakeholder feedback and incorporated lessons learned under the NEI, to develop an economic growth strategy that would help make trade a central part of America’s economic DNA. The end product of that interagency review, NEI/NEXT will take the NEI strategy to next level by institutionalizing our progress from the past four years and serving as a framework to guide the development of new, innovative initiatives.

NEI/NEXT will be implemented through the Export Promotion Cabinet and Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which consists of representatives from 20 federal departments and agencies with export-related programs. The Secretary of Commerce chairs the TPCC.

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013 infographic

The United States is the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods and services, and the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI). Trade and investment are critical to the prosperity of the world’s largest economy. They fuel our economic growth, support good jobs—and spread the delivery of ideas, innovation, and American values. Trade and investment are an important engine for U.S. economic growth and jobs. With nearly 14% of U.S. GDP in 2013 accounted for by exports, and 95% of potential consumers living  broad, promoting trade and investment helps more U.S. companies compete in the global marketplace.