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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit Off to a Roaring Start

Secretary Pritzker welcomes President Barack Obama to the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit

With more than 2,600 people from more than 70 markets, and economic development organizations from all corners of the United States, the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit has record attendance. In fact, it is more than twice as large as the inaugural 2013 event and reflects growing global interest in the United States as a place to launch and expand operations, invest in research and development, and create jobs.

Day One of the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit just concluded and what an exciting day it was. We were honored to have President Obama speak and announce some new initiatives to make investing and expanding within the United States even easier.

He announced that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will increase clarity around the adjudication of the L-1B non-immigrant visa that allows international companies to temporarily deploy workers with specialized knowledge to the United States when launching or conducting operations here. This long-anticipated policy guidance is of particular interest to global companies participating in today's SelectUSA Investment Summit.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will establish the first-ever federal advisory committee to solicit formal input on the development and implementation of strategies and programs to attract and retain foreign direct investment in the United States.

Finally, SelectUSA will continue to improve investment tools, enhance trainings for investors, and expand partnerships with state economic development organizations. A new partnership platform will improve state-federal coordination, inform SelectUSA services and programs, and promote high standards in investment-promotion activities across the country.

Innovation and Software are the Reasons to Select the USA

Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA

Guest blog post by Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA

Today, as part of the Select USA Investment Summit, I had the honor of joining an impressive group of business leaders, international investors and experts for an in-depth conversation about how innovation and R&D is helping to fuel private sector investment, and why the United States is poised for tremendous growth. 

I’d like to applaud U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker for bringing together more than 2,500 participants representing 60 countries, drawing international attention to the U.S. as a premier country to invest in at such an optimal time.  International companies representing countries from around the globe, such as Germany, contribute largely to Federal Direct Investment (FDI) and find the U.S. an attractive place to invest.  And Siemens does too.

To give you a little bit of background, Siemens is one of the world’s oldest and biggest companies.  Having been in the U.S. for over 150 years, we currently employ nearly 50,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.  We have more than 70 manufacturing sites in the U.S. and invest more than $1 billion annually in R&D here. 

The U.S. has become an innovation engine for Siemens.  It is not only our largest market, but is also an extremely vital production location, one of our most important research centers and a key base from which we export to the rest of the world.  Siemens has invested over $35 billion in America over the past decade, including over $10 billion in the past year alone.

So why invest in the U.S.?  As a global company, when we are looking for a new location to invest or to manufacture, we consider many factors and there are several which are unique to the U.S. market, giving it a leg up on the competition.

  1. Strong ecosystem for innovation and R&D
  2. World-class colleges and universities
  3. Leadership in software and the digital economy

It’s clear that the primary trait that sets the U.S. apart as a unique and unrivaled place to invest is an undeniable spirit of innovation. The U.S. has an environment of innovation, collaboration and talent that is unmatched anywhere in the world. 

International Trade Agreements Are Vital to Wisconsin Firm’s Continued Growth

International Trade Agreements Are Vital to Wisconsin Firm’s Continued Growth

Guest Blog Post by Jim Corkery, President of ACS

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and several US Senators and Representatives to talk about global trade. I strongly support the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation and want to share my views on how ACS has directly benefited from global trade.

We are an organization offering engineering, equipment fabrication and construction management solutions to companies who develop and test engines and vehicles for worldwide distribution. Our office employees are highly skilled college graduates, most with engineering and advanced engineering degrees, and our manufacturing employees have specialized skilled trades expertise.  Although we have fewer than 150 employees, the global nature of business today means we have offices in Wisconsin, Michigan and South Carolina as well as in the UK and China.   Getting the rules of international trade right is not just theory for my company; it will help accelerate our growth.

The first way we benefit from global trade is when our US-based clients develop products for sale globally – we benefit through contracts to design and construct our clients’ R&D/Manufacturing centers here in the U.S.  These opportunities allow ACS to hire more engineering, manufacturing and support employees to accomplish this work. For example, we recently contracted with Cummins to design and build their R&D and Manufacturing test facilities for a new High Horsepower engine to be designed and manufactured in Seymour, Indiana. This facility serves as the global headquarters for the design and manufacture of this new engine with exports forecasted to be 80% of overall sales.

We have also had opportunities to design and construct international R&D/Manufacturing centers for our US-based clients. Typically we provide preliminary design in the US and then travel to the project countries to oversee final design and construction by local designers and contractors. We have designed and built laboratories for Caterpillar in the US, England, Northern Ireland and China, for Whirlpool in the US, Mexico, Poland and China, for John Deere in the US and Mexico, and for Cummins in the US, England, Romania and China.

SelectUSA Works for Puerto Rico

Alejandro J. García-Padilla, Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Guest blog post by Alejandro J. García-Padilla, Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Almost a year after we announced that Lufthansa Technik would establish an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Puerto Rico, we are getting ready to celebrate the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit.

With an estimated economic impact of $2.2 billion over a 30-year period, Lufthansa Technik’s decision to establish an MRO site in Puerto Rico is a major strategic advancement for the Commonwealth’s economic development plan. The facility is well under construction and has secured JetBlue and Spirit Airlines as customers. The MRO is expected to begin servicing customers later this year.

Since I took office in January 2013, I have sought to diversify Puerto Rico’s economy by attracting foreign direct investment like Lufthansa Technik, a leading manufacturer and independent provider of technical services for the aviation industry.

And make no mistake, investing in Puerto Rico is investing in the United States. That is why, with the help of the Commerce Department’s Select USA program, we sought out Lufthansa Technik to create jobs that capitalize on the highly skilled workforce that our Island’s university system trains.

The MRO facility is helping to grow Puerto Rico’s aerospace and aviation industry, create high-skilled jobs, and stimulate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. By 2016, up to 400 highly skilled workers will be employed there. Puerto Rico now has the infrastructure to train new aircraft mechanics, with the brand new Aerospace and Aviation Institute of Puerto Rico under development.

This deal was just the beginning of an exciting partnership between Puerto Rico and SelectUSA.  The Lufthansa Technik site is causing a positive ripple effect in the economy, spurring the growth of MRO suppliers.

I also recently announced that business technology consulting firm Infosys BPO will open a new center in Puerto Rico to serve the Island’s growing aviation sector. This investment is another example of foreign direct investment brought on by the ripple effects of the Lufthansa MRO. Infosys will utilize this new center to deliver complex order-to-cash business processes for clients in the aviation industry and create over 200 jobs. The company is looking to further expand its footprint in the region to service clients in the federal government sector and the healthcare industry.

I commend the work of President Obama’s Administration, which was instrumental in bringing Lufthansa Technik to the United States and creating hundreds of well paid jobs in Puerto Rico. I also express my deep gratitude to Vice President Biden, Secretary Pritzker and the SelectUSA Program for making these investments a reality.

The investment from Lufthansa Technik and its impact in the economy are proof that SelectUSA works. We look forward to a long partnership with SelectUSA.  

SelectUSA 2015 Investment Summit Highlighting United States As Premier Investment Destination

There is no time like the present to invest in the United States. In fact, the U.S. is rated #1 in the latest A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index for the second year in a row, with the highest net positive rating in the index’s 16-year history. 

With an incredibly attractive consumer market, a thriving culture of innovation, and the most productive workforce, the U.S. has shown itself to be an economic powerhouse. Companies of all sizes – big or small, startup or multinational– can benefit from the ideas, resources, and markets the U.S. offers in order to become a globally competitive nation. Because of these reasons, the U.S. proudly welcomes international investment. 

When deciding to invest in the U.S., firms can look at five factors: 

  1. Market: The U.S. is home to the most attractive consumer market and serves as a competitive export hub to the rest of the world. Free trade agreements with 20 nations give U.S.-based exporters better access to markets with more potential consumers.
  2. Economic Growth: During 2013 to 2014, Real GDP grew at a 2.8 percent annual pace. The private sector successfully expands with the longest streak on record for job growth.
  3. Business-Friendly Environment: The U.S. offers a transparent, fair and stable business environment and thriving capital markets to support developing companies.
  4. Innovation: As a world leader in research and development (R&D) and intellectual property protection, the U.S. provides a productive environment for innovation. Firms can improve their competitiveness by associating with research institutions and employing leading-edge manufacturing techniques.
  5. Resources: There is a manufacturing renaissance occurring due to the diversified resources, low cost energy and a well-educated workforce. 

These compelling factors and more will be on display at the 2015 SelectUSA Summit next week.   The two-day Summit, March 23-24, is the premier event for those considering an investment. The event will feature nearly 600 representatives from nearly every state and territory, providing ample opportunity for investors to find the information needed to make investment decisions and connect with the right people at the domestic level. Many states, territories, cities, and regions are also hosting booths in the Summit exhibition hall to connect directly with investors.

All year round, SelectUSA coordinates federal agencies to address investor concerns relating to federal regulations. This year, representatives from 20 federal agencies will be on-site at a U.S. Government Pavilion in the Summit exhibition hall to meet face to face with investors, as well as state and local representatives. 

The Summit is at capacity with more than 2,600 people registered from more than 70 markets, doubling the size of the inaugural event in 2013. President Barack Obama will give the keynote address on the first day.  Other Administration officials delivering remarks include Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. Some of the world's top CEOs will be there to discuss the advantages of investing in America and the jobs it creates. Among the executives speaking at the event will be Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, and David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, the world’s largest equity firm.

North Carolina Attracts FDI in Manufacturing and Textiles

Under Secretary Stefan Selig (seond from left) participates in a ribbon cutting ceremony with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (left) PEDS Legwear President and CEO Michael Penner and Walmart Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing Cindi Marsiglio

Cross blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

On Wednesday afternoon, I delivered remarks in Hilderbran, North Carolina at a ribbon-cutting ceremony where we officially opened the new Canadian-based Peds® Legwear (PEDS) production facility. PEDS’ recent $16 million investment in the plant and new machinery has allowed the company to hire North Carolina factory workers who were previously laid off. By 2018, this new facility will bring more than 200 jobs to Hildebran, providing a lift to the local economy.

SelectUSA, our program to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), along with our Commercial Service Canada team, helped facilitate this deal. SelectUSA provided counseling to PEDS on how to navigate the federal regulatory process and also helped identify sources of federal funding. In addition to PEDS’ investment in the Hildebran facility, the company plans an additional $8 million venture, bringing their total investment in the United States to $24 million. In less than two weeks, similar FDI deals will be highlighted at this year’sSelectUSA Investment Summit, which will take place March 23-24.

In addition to ITA’s support, PEDS’ new investment is made possible because of a multi-year purchase order contract from Wal-Mart as part of the retailer’s commitment to buy domestically produced goods.

As I noted in my remarks—before an audience that included Michael Penner, president and CEO of Peds®Legwear; Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart’s vice president of U.S. manufacturing; and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory—PEDS’ investment in the facility shows our nation’s prowess to attract FDI.

Because the United States offers a transparent, fair, and stable business climate, as well as our second-to-none workforce, many global companies like PEDS are beginning to establish or expand operations here. In fact, in 2013, U.S. FDI inflows totaled $231 billion, of which $51 million was invested in U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing. In 2012, majority-owned U.S. affiliates of foreign firms accounted for $48 billion in R&D expenditures, exported $334 billion worth of U.S. goods exports, and employed nearly 6 million workers.

To keep the momentum, ITA will continue to develop opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses by promoting international trade, encouraging FDI, and working to foster a level playing field for American products and services.

Increased Exports and the Jobs Supported by Exports Are Keys to Heightened Economic Confidence

Increased Exports and the Jobs Supported by Exports Are Keys to Heightened Economic Confidence

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

When we look back at 2014, it will be seen as the year our country regained its economic confidence, symbolized by the nearly 3 million jobs our economy created in 2014.

While this feat extended the longest streak of job growth in American history, we should not overlook the role our exports and our exporters played in regaining that economic confidence.

U.S. exports of goods and services tallied a record $2.35 trillion in 2014. That was the fifth consecutive year we achieved record exports. This is a clear validation of the Administration’s commitment to a robust trade and investment agenda.

In fact, there are three ways that our exports played an important role in the breakthrough year our economy produced.

First, at the same time that we were experiencing the longest streak of job growth, we also experienced a record year when it came to export-supported jobs: more than 11.7 million.  This number includes the 2.8 million jobs supported by the exports to our North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico. And we know those export supported jobs pay 13 to 18% higher wages than non-export supported jobs.  

Second, U.S. exporters reaped the benefits of a record year of exports with our 20 free trade partners – with a total of $765 billion in goods sent to these markets. That record included increases in exports to Colombia (up 10.5%), South Korea (up 6.8%) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic partners (up 5.7%).  Overall, these 20 countries purchase nearly half of all U.S. exports today – 47% to be exact.

Third, a major driver of our export growth came from our Latin American free trade partners, such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Peru. Exports to these 11 countries alone represented more than a third of our entire year-over-year increase in exports. The region is a major destination for U.S. petroleum and coal, computers and electronics, chemicals, and transportation equipment.

So 2014 was clearly a breakthrough year for our exports and for our economy in general. Now, we need the tools that will allow us to carry that momentum into 2015 and beyond.

That is why passing trade promotion legislation is even more crucial, particularly as we work to finalize the historic Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

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:

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Twenty-Six States Achieved Record Export Levels in 2014

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Twenty-Six States Achieved Record Export Levels in 2014

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced new data that shows 26 states achieved records in goods exports in 2014, while eight additional states experienced growth in merchandise exports over 2013 levels. Total merchandise exports from all 50 states helped the U.S. achieve the fifth consecutive record-setting year of goods and services exports, which reached $2.35 trillion in 2014. 

Secretary Pritzker praised today’s announcement stressing the fact exports are critical to economic growth and job creation in communities across the country. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, opening more markets to ‘Made in America’ goods and services is fundamental to our nation’s competitiveness, job creation, and the economic security of our families,” she said. 

Strengthening partnerships with states and rural communities in support of exporters and investment attraction efforts is a key objective for the second phase of President Obama’s National Export Initiative – NEI/NEXT, which Secretary Pritzker launched in May 2014. Through NEI/NEXT, 20 federal agencies are advancing program and policy improvements to provide exporters more tailored assistance and information; streamline export reporting requirements; expand access to export financing; ensure market access and a level playing field; and collaborate with state and local organizations. 

The 26 states that set new records for exports in 2014 include:

  • Texas ($289.0 billion);
  • California ($174.1 billion);
  • Washington ($90.6 billion);
  • Illinois ($68.2 billion);
  • Louisiana ($65.1 billion);
  • Ohio ($52.1 billion);
  • Georgia ($39.4 billion);
  • Indiana ($35.5 billion);
  • Tennessee ($33.0 billion);
  • North Carolina ($31.3 billion);
  • South Carolina ($29.7 billion);
  • Kentucky ($27.5 billion);

Secretary Pritzker Tours DODOcase and Highlights Successful San Francisco Exporters

Secretary Pritzker Tours DODOcase and Highlights Successful San Francisco Exporters

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited DODOcase, a San Francisco-based manufacturer of high-quality cases for electronics like tablets and smart phones.  During her tour of the company’s manufacturing facility, Secretary Pritzker met with company executives and spoke with other San Francisco area business leaders and policymakers about the importance of trade and exports to businesses' ability to grow and hire. 

DODOcase CEO and founder Craig Dalton lead the tour with Secretary Pritzker. During the tour Secretary Prtizker met with DODOcase staff and talked to many of them as they designed  iPad and tablet cases. 

Dalton launched DODOcase in 2010 after seeing a need to keep the art of bookbinding alive by adapting it to the world of digital devices. DODOcases and sleeves are handmade in San Francisco. When the company opened its doors in April 2010 - the same day iPad was released in the United States - they only had two employees. Today, their workforce has grown to 22 workers and they ship their products all around the world. From day one, 30 percent of DODOcase's business has been to customers overseas, which means that, from the start, exports have been part of the company's business model and success.  

Also joining Secretary Pritzker for the tour, were several San Francisco business community leaders including  John Dannerbeck, the President of Anchor Brewing. Anchor Brewing is a brewery and distillery on San Francisco’s Pontero Hill. Today the company sends its fourteen products to several markets around the world. While not a traditional export product, craft beer export volume increased by 49 percent in 2013, representing 282,526 barrels and an estimated at $73 million, according to data from the American Brewers Association. Secretary Pritzker also met with Kate Sofis, Executive Director of SFMade. SFMade is a non-profit organization that works to support the manufacturing sector in San Francisco, sustain companies producing locally-made products, encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce in the Bay Area. The San Francisco metropolitan area is the 10th largest export market in the country, with merchandise exports totaling $25.3 billion in 2013 and more than 802,000 California jobs are supported by exports. 

Last week, the Department of Commerce announced that 2014 was another record year for export growth. The U.S. exported $2.35 trillion of goods and service last year. Today, exports support 11 million jobs in the U.S. and pay up to 18 percent more than jobs not related to exports. 

Yet with 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, the prosperity of American businesses and workers is directly tied to their ability to reach new markets and new customers. That is why President Obama has made increased trade a key focus on his plan to create sustainable economic growth for American workers, and is pushing for trade promotion legislation as well as the completion of new, high-standard trade agreements that uphold our values and open new markets to American goods and services– including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

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. 

A Record Year for American Exports, Further Proof of American Greatness

Under Secretary Stefan M. Selig (second from left) discusses the importance of exports as part of a panel discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on February 5, 2015.

Cross blog post by Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

“The shadow of crisis has passed,” the President declared in his State of the Union two weeks ago, and the export data we released today goes to the heart of that very point.

The Commerce Department announced today that the U.S. economy hit a new annual record for exports, with $2.35 trillion in goods and services shipped in 2014.

That also represents the fifth consecutive year that our economy yielded record exports, going back to 2010 when the President launched the National Export Initiative.

If you take a deeper dive into the numbers, you see that exports are an important chapter in the larger story of our economic recovery.

Last year, we achieved record annual goods exports with Canada ($312 billion), Mexico ($240 billion) and China ($124 billion). In fact, the U.S. economy had record goods exports with 52 countries in 2014.

It was also a banner year when it came to goods exports with our free trade agreement (FTA) markets. You would expect that our exports to these countries would be strong. But last year saw enormous year-over-year growth in a variety of FTA markets throughout the world: up 7% with South Korea, 9% with Guatemala, 10% with Colombia, 11% with the Dominican Republic, and 28% with Oman.

Our services industry also enjoyed a banner year in 2014, hitting an all-time high of $710 billion.

Travel and tourism remained our strongest service export (it is easy to forget that every dollar a foreign visitor spends on airfare, lodging, and entertainment counts as an export dollar) coming in at $182 billion.

It was also a record year for goods exports, exceeding $1.6 trillion. When you take a look at individual sectors, it is easy to see a compelling story.

Exports of passenger cars represented our third-largest source of year-over-year growth—$61 billion in exports—an increase of more than $4 billion. Our three leading export markets for U.S. passenger cars were Canada, China, and Germany.

America’s Economic Resurgence: Invest in the U.S.A - The 2015 SelectUSA Summit Agenda

SelectUSA 2015 Investment Summit

There has never been a better time to invest in the United States. With a resurgent economy and a strong economic foundation to support growth for years to come, it is no wonder the United States is the world’s top destination for businesses looking to expand.

Building on this, President Obama is hosting the second SelectUSA Investment Summit, which is right around the corner.  On March 23-24, more than 2,500 people from around the world and every corner of the United States will gather in Washington to explore opportunities to grow their businesses.  This is a “don’t miss” event, and we are excited to unveil the Summit agenda. We hope you will consider joining us.

More than 1,200 people from 70 international markets have already registered, and we anticipate that the event will be filled to capacity well in advance of the Summit.

Why is interest so strong?  The United States offers an unprecedented investment climate for foreign investors of all sizes, a skilled and productive workforce, an unmatched higher education system, strong intellectual property protections, a serious commitment to innovation, and an abundant and stable energy supply.

The U.S. domestic market remains the world’s most attractive for foreign investment. Real GDP grew at a 5.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter of 2014, and businesses have added 11.2 million jobs during a record 58 straight months of private-sector job growth. U.S.-based companies offer access to millions of global consumers through high quality Free Trade Agreements. More than ever, the U.S. market is driving global competitiveness. 

How can investors learn more about this unparalleled opportunity? Attend the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., March 23-24, of course.

Fast-Paced Foreign Direct Investment from India

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker (center), poses with Mr. Sidharth Birla, former president of the Federation of Indian Chambers for Commerce and Industry, and Dr. Jyotsna Suri, current President of FICCI and Bharat Hotels Chairwoman

Guest blog post by Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director of the SelectUSA Program.

I recently had the great pleasure of participating in an exciting event with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in New Delhi. Hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the event brought together business leaders, investors, and national business associations from across India. I had the opportunity to hear their ideas and share in their excitement about India’s fast-growing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States.

India is now the fourth fastest-growing source of FDI into the United States, with a stock of $11 billion in investments as of 2013. As the latest available data show, FDI from India provides:

  • Jobs: U.S. subsidiaries of Indian firms employed more than 43,800 workers in the United States in 2012, with an average yearly compensation of $69,800, well above the national average.
  • Innovative R&D: In 2011, U.S. subsidiaries of Indian firms invested $46 million in research and development in the United States.
  • U.S. Exports: U.S. subsidiaries of Indian firms exported goods worth more than $2 billion from the United States in 2012.

These figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis represent real stories of thriving businesses creating real jobs. SelectUSA, the U.S. government-wide program created to facilitate investment in the United States, has assisted several Indian companies as they sought to set up operations locally.

For example, Shri Govindaraja Textiles, or SG Mills, is a third-generation, family-owned business. The group is the largest spinner in India with a total workforce of 30,000 employees.  Last year, SelectUSA and the U.S. Commercial Service office in New Delhi, helped company management develop and execute a work plan as they considered investing in the United States.  Recently, SG Mills opened its first U.S.-based operation in Eden, North Carolina, and announced plans to invest more than $40 million during the next two years. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Joins President Obama in Calls for More Trade and Investment with India

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Joins President Obama in Calls for More Trade and Investment with India

As part of President Obama’s official delegation to India, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined the President and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the U.S.-India Business Summit where they addressed a large group from both the U.S. and Indian private sectors on ways to expand market access and increase opportunities for U.S. firms through improvements in India’s business climate. Secretary Pritzker specifically addressed how Commerce can play a role in helping U.S. companies gain access to the Indian market and announced the expansion of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue to now become the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. Along with Secretary of State John Kerry, Pritzker will lead this new diplomatic effort with the Indian government designed to promote more trade and investment between the two countries. 

Today at the U.S.-India Business Summit, President Obama, Prime Minister Modi, and Secretary Pritzker spoke with more than 40 CEOs and officials during a roundtable meeting. They discussed the business and investment climate in India and ways to increase commercial and economic cooperation. During the roundtable, President Obama touted burgeoning U.S. exports to India and said the two countries are moving in the right direction, while calling for even more trade and investment. Obama also stressed the factthat U.S. companies want consistency and clarity in the regulatory and tax environment in India. Prime Minister Modi and President Obama expressed confidence that continued bilateral collaboration will increase opportunities for investment, improve bilateral trade and investment ties and lead to the creation of jobs and prosperity in both economies. Secretary Pritzker joined both the President and Prime Minister in discussing ways in which U.S. companies could improve India’s infrastructure. 

Recognizing the important role that both countries play in promoting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific Region, President Obama and Minister Modi announced a India-U.S. Delhi Declaration of Friendship. The declaration specifically calls on India’s Minister of Trade and Commerce and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to work together towards strengthening commercial and economic ties to advance mutual prosperity, regional economic growth and stability. 

Earlier in the day, Secretary Pritzker joined the President and Prime Minister at India’sannual Republic Day Parade and in a wreath laying ceremony in memory of unknown soldiers. Following the day’s business summit and dialogue, Secretary Pritzker hosted a private reception with U.S. and Indian business leaders and discussed next steps for improving U.S. access to the Indian market.  

In July 2014, Secretary Pritzker participated in the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, the first U.S. Cabinet-level visit to India since Prime Minister Modi’s election. There, she led discussions on helping strengthen economic ties between the two nations. 

2015 Will Be the Biggest Year Yet for International Opportunities for Regional Economic Development

JoAnn Crary, CEcD, President of Saginaw Future, Inc. and 2015 Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Economic Development Council

Guest blog post by JoAnn Crary, CEcD, President of Saginaw Future, Inc. and 2015 Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Economic Development Council

2015 is off to a great start for International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and I am excited and honored to spend the next 12 months as the Chair of our Board of Directors. In this capacity, I will be traveling the globe and conferring with my fellow economic developers on many of the pressing issues and opportunities our profession is facing. One event I am particularly looking forward to attending is the 2nd SelectUSA Investment Summit. Having attended the first Investment Summit in 2013, I can personally attest to the value of coming to Washington to meet with colleagues from across the U.S., hundreds of international investors – I’m told this year’s summit will feature twice as many investors – and hear from a robust speaking program featuring top administration leaders in foreign direct investment attraction.

Foreign direct investment has proven to be a vital tool in the economic developer’s toolbox in the years following the Great Recession. In my own community, Saginaw, Michigan, it has contributed to the creation or retention of thousands of jobs over the past five years. One company, Nexteer, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in expanding their operations in Saginaw, which has resulted in thousands of jobs being created or retained. As an economic developer, I cannot overstate the importance of the resources that SelectUSA has provided my organization and countless others within my profession. Simply put: SelectUSA brings clarity, focus and action to the role of the federal government in supporting FDI attraction at the local, regional and state level. They are an essential partner in the work of economic developers to create jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities. They are also a valued partner of IEDC in Washington and have played a key role in raising the profile of our profession over the past few years.

Commerce and White House Ramp-Up Efforts to Open More Markets to American Goods and Services

Exports are a vital part of the Obama Administration’s economic growth agenda, therefore, the Commerce Department and the White House hosted a fly-in that brought business leaders from around the country to Washington for a panel discussion on ways to send more products stamped “Made in America” around the world. More than 60 small-medium-sized business leaders representing various industries were in attendance.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker participated in a roundtable discussion about how trade benefits the communities in which these companies operate and these businesses leaders live. She called on business executives to do what she called “painting the brush strokes of each individual portrait” with their neighbors, customers, and employees to make the case to them that trade is not only a global and national priority – it is also a local opportunity.When business stories such as Inficon’s - an innovative company of 250 employees in Syracuse, New York that exports instrumentation -  are told, it paints the picture that trade does indeed impact the lives and livelihoods of citizens and their communities.

Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live beyond U.S. borders. Secretary Pritzker is leading the charge to make exporting a larger part of the DNA of all American businesses. Key to achieving this goal and at the top of the Administration’s trade agenda is passage of Trade Promotion Authority, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic-Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).  Once completed, TPP is expected to make it easier to sell American products and services to more than 40 percent of global GDP.  T-TIP will cover nations that account for nearly half of the global economy and nearly a third of world trade flows. 

In 2013 exports reached an all-time high of $2.3 trillion with 2014 expected to surpass that record. Trade is a gateway for American businesses to create jobs, grow the economy and bring the markets of the world to the doorsteps of small, medium, and large businesses. The Commerce Department is committed to expanding the global footprint of American businesses and keeping America open for business. 

2015: The Year to Launch and Scale in the United States

SelectUSA Tech in Dublin – Legal, Visa, Insurance and Tax Considerations for U.S. Expansion (June 25, 2014)

By John D. Breidenstine, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy, London

The United Kingdom and Ireland are both home to flourishing tech startups looking for the right opportunities to grow globally.  The United States is the logical target for their expansion, especially given its 320 million consumers, free trade agreements with 20 other markets, and massive market for technology purchases. 

Furthermore, there is plenty of precedent.  Companies from the UK and Ireland have outstanding track records of succeeding in our country. The UK is the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States, with $564.7 billion total stock as of 2013.  According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, affiliates of UK companies in the United States are responsible for more than 962,900 American jobs.  Ireland is the eighth largest source of FDI, whose investors are responsible for more than $117 billion stock as of 2013 and 168,900 U.S. jobs as of 2012. 

Startups can also tap into the incredible resources available in the United States. Our entrepreneurial culture is the perfect business climate for startups to thrive. Just look at the numbers: According to the Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, an average of 476,000 new businesses were created each month in 2013. The United States leads the world in innovation and intellectual property protection, accounting for roughly 30 percent of global research and development (R&D).  In 2012 alone, companies from the U.K. and Ireland combined spent nearly $9 billion on R&D in the United States, contributing significantly to the intellectual diversity of all three countries.

So how can SelectUSA, the U.S. government-wide program to facilitate investment into the United States, help even more companies to make the leap across the Atlantic?  SelectUSA provides information, connects businesses with the right people, and helps investors navigate the federal government (learn more about our full range of services).  In addition, the Commercial Service (CS) in the U.K. and Ireland launched a new initiative in 2014—SelectUSA Tech—to give early-stage technology companies the tools that they need to launch their businesses in the United States.

SelectUSA Tech’s 2014 “boot camp-style” events in London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Belfast brought together public and private-sector experts to address legal, tax, accounting, insurance, and visa/immigration issues, while also covering how tech entrepreneurs can access U.S. buyers, venture capital, debt financing, and general banking services. A final, key component of the events has been a “lessons learned” panel of local startups, who share their experiences launching and scaling stateside.  

For more information about SelectUSA Tech Seminars, check out the flyer from September’s Edinburgh event or the highlights reels from our London or Dublin events.  We also regularly participate in tech conferences and at incubator briefings. For example, over the course of a single week in October, CS UK held a SelectUSA Tech Seminar in Belfast, hosted a LDNY (London-New York Festival) #scaling2cities tech entrepreneur event at the U.S. Embassy, and co-sponsored “The Transatlantic Startup” event organized by the Global Innovation Forum

Startups can also learn more about the U.S. market at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit coming up in March, which will enable entrepreneurs to meet with economic development offices from across the United States, all in one building.  The day before the Summit, we’ll also be holding a SelectUSA Academy to present the basics of investing and launching a business in the United States at a level of detail that will be particularly useful for startups and entrepreneurs.

To learn more about our SelectUSA Tech, please follow us on Twitter @SelectUSATech.

2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is Now Open for Business

2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is Now Open for Business

Guest blog post by Secretary Penny Pritzker 

In my first year as Secretary, one of my proudest moments was welcoming international investors to the 2013 SelectUSA Investment Summit. Alongside President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, we made it clear that America is “Open for Business.” 

As 2015 begins, we are moving full speed ahead with registration for the second SelectUSA Investment Summit, which will take place in the DC metro area on March 23-24, 2015. 

In November, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released new data showing why efforts to attract international investment are so important. U.S. affiliates of foreign firms employed 5.8 million people in the United States in 2012. These companies spent $48 billion on U.S. research and development, and they exported nearly $344 billion worth of goods manufactured in the United States. In 2013, the United States attracted $231 billion in FDI, up from $170 billion in 2012. 

There has never been a better time to consider establishing or expanding operations in the United States, and it is clear that investors recognize the opportunities that America offers.  We are home to an attractive consumer market, a thriving culture of innovation, and a talented workforce.  The U.S. economic recovery is outshining others, and investors are increasingly confident.  In fact, A.T. Kearney’s 2014 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index said, “the United States tops the index for the second year in a row,” with the highest net positive rating in the index’s 16-year history. 

The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit aims to build on the tremendous success of the inaugural event, which connected investors from 60 countries with representatives from nearly every U.S. state and territory.  At this year’s Summit, economic development organizations (EDOs) from across the United States will once again gather to showcase investment opportunities to companies from around the world. This event will bring together the tools, information, and connections companies need to grow their business here. The two-day summit will include many sessions with high-profile CEOs, breakout panels with practical tools for investors, one-on-one matchmaking meetings, and pitches on the trade show floor.  

25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Concludes with Key Outcomes

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chicago, IL

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which took place in Chicago. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement.

Through sustained engagement over the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers, including in the following areas:

  • Agriculture market access:  China has made commitments that should promote significant increases in U.S. exports of soybeans, corn and dairy products to China.  Specifically, China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn ­– current annual U.S. exports of soybeans and corn to China total $14 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively – and also that it would pursue a regular dialogue with the United States focused on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture, for both the United States and China. China also agreed to strong IP protections for products that use trademarks or common names like "parmesan" or "feta" cheese, which in recent years have begun to demonstrate a potential for rapid export growth vis-à-vis China.
  • IPR protection:  China's IPR-related commitments cover a range of needed improvements, which should benefit U.S. businesses in a wide variety of industries that rely on the ability to protect their trade secrets, as well as U.S. holders of patents, trademarks and copyrights. For example, in the area of trade secrets, building on prior bilateral commitments made by China, the United States has gained China’s agreement to take specific additional steps to protect companies’ trade secrets and to work on a new trade secrets law to further enhance their protections.  The United States also has secured China’s agreement to, among other things, bring new focus to the two countries’ work together to determine how best to foster a better environment for facilitating increased sales of legitimate intellectual property-intensive goods and services in China.
  • Innovation policies:  The United States continued to pursue changes to Chinese policies and practices that have pressured foreign companies to transfer valuable intellectual property rights to enterprises in China.  For example, China committed to ensure that they treat foreign IP rights the same as domestic IP rights.  China also has agreed to streamline China’s regulatory processes and cut red tape for imports of new, innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which should lead to increases in U.S. exports and U.S. jobs in these two important sectors.  Indeed, according to industry data, the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry directly employs more than 810,000 workers and supports a total of 3.4 million jobs in the United States, while annual exports of U.S. pharmaceutical products to China have exceeded $1.2 billion.  The U.S. medical device industry, meanwhile, includes over 7,000 companies, most with less than 100 employees, supports 1.9 million U.S. jobs overall, and was responsible for $2.7 billion in exports to China in 2013. 
  • Competition policy enforcement:  The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement.  The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings.  China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership
JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

Secretary Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Froman, along with a high-level Government of China delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang, kicked off a day of side events with American and Chinese private sector leaders around the Joint Commission on Trade and Commerce (JCCT). For the first time, the JCCT schedule included a full day of events designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the U.S. and Chinese governments.  

Thirty-one years after the JCCT’s inception, Secretary Pritzker, Ambassador Froman and Vice Premier Wang Yang committed to re-imagining the JCCT. Their hope is for the JCCT to serve as more of a platform for government leaders to hear from the business community, as well as continue to serve as a forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China.

In the morning, both delegations participated in a roundtable with 24 business leaders from the U.S. and China, sponsored by the Paulson Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During the roundtable discussion, government and business leaders discussed the opportunities and challenges of bilateral investment between the United States and China, including greater market access for U.S. goods and services, protection of intellectual property—including trade secrets—as well as ways to promote an efficient and level playing field in China, and how to secure best practices in regulatory enforcement, among other issues.

Later in the day at a luncheon hosted by World Business Chicago, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the importance of global commerce in promoting more openness, trade, and business between the United States and China. She also highlighted how Chinese investment in the United States has been a win-win for both countries and noted that Chinese investment has grown 42% between 2009 and 2013, supporting jobs for 14,000 U.S. workers.  

Secretary Pritzker finished the day speaking about the shared vision of a global economic partnership that exists between the United States and China. She noted that the success of the U.S.-China commercial relationship is critical to global economic growth and stability. The two economies are the largest in the world, accounting for nearly 35 percent of global GDP. Combined U.S. and China trade in goods and services add up to about one-fifth of all international trade, so the importance of the bilateral economic relationship to each other and to the global economy cannot be overstated.  

In many ways, the reimagined JCCT is an opportunity for the JCCT co-chairs to build a legacy of cooperation, respect, and stronger U.S.-China economic ties. Leaving this legacy will require a tremendous amount of work, but if it succeeds, the JCCT will become an even more effective mechanism for economic growth.  The co-chairs can use the JCCT to promote more commerce, to deepen trust, and to address real business challenges.

Staff-Led Groups Create Change Within the International Trade Administration

This year, the International Trade Administration’s Industry and Analysis (I&A) team launched the “Renaissance Project.” The initiative aims to create a system of turning ideas into actions, and it has helped increase our team’s productivity and boost morale.

Through the project, we challenged a series of staff working groups to develop ideas to not only make I&A a better place to work, but also come up with tangible, actionable steps to put those ideas into motion.

Every three to four months, a new group of interested volunteers discussed a particular theme, and then identified the concrete steps necessary to make improvements to I&A under their theme. Most importantly, after putting together a proposal to senior I&A management, each group actually took the steps to make to the recommended improvements.

Throughout the course of the past year, five groups have met as part of the Renaissance Project to work on their particular “theme” of issues, ranging from post-reorganization cohesion to long-standing issues:

1. Getting to Know the New I&A

2. Improving Communication

3. Training and Mentoring

4. Identity, Branding, and Image

5. Employee Recognition and Retention<--break->

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

Frank Underwood doesn’t understand the purpose of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

Maybe you know of Frank Underwood, the main character on the show House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey. If so, you may remember how he conspired with colleagues in the White House and State Department to orchestrate a trade war with China. 

How did he do it? Through the JCCT negotiations. 

While Mr. Underwood is commonly known in the United States, it’s much less likely that the average American knows what the JCCT is, aside from it being some way for a fictional administration to create tension with a major U.S. international partner. 

Though it isn’t a household term, the importance of the JCCT can’t be overlooked. While Mr. Underwood used the JCCT to start a trade war, the reality is that the United States and China use it to support trade peace – resolving bilateral tensions and exploring areas of mutual cooperation. 

The United States and China established the JCCT in 1983 as the primary forum for addressing trade and investment issues, and promoting commercial opportunities between the two countries. 

The JCCT has since resulted in significant progress on issues U.S. businesses have identified as priority concerns in China, including:

* protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;

* government procurement;

* standards, testing, and certifications; and

* issues specific to certain sectors like information technology, energy, and travel and tourism. <--break->

Is Your Company Ready to Export?

Is Your Company Ready to Export?

Don Aberle has one piece of advice for companies looking to export: Commit to it.

It may take time, but the marketing manager from Titan Machinery Outlet says that commitment can pay off, and “good things will happen.”

That’s the theme of a new video from the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA), which provides tips from successful exporters about how a company can become a global player.

Young companies should also be paying attention to and taking advantage of global opportunities. Startups actually can have an important advantage when it comes to pursuing exports, in that engaging in foreign markets early can make global business a continuing part of your company’s culture.

And that can set your company up for continued success in the global economy.

Here are a few tips that can help your young business find success in exporting:

  • Do Your Research: Find the right markets for your company and have a well-defined strategy for approaching them.
  • Differentiate Yourself: Everyone says their company makes the best products and provides the best customer service. Your company needs to explain – from a consumer’s perspective – why someone would want to buy your products.
  • Be Patient: Jon Engelstad of Superior Manufacturing says there are companies he’s worked with for up to three years in order to make them customers of his company. That means a lot of work for an exporter, but it also creates a strong relationship between you and your consumer.
  • Work with ITA’s Commercial Service: Our team can help you find the right research, plan your strategy, and find the most qualified partners to work with.

Just because your company is young doesn’t mean exporting is out of reach for you. If you’re ready to get started, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

See video
Download the video: 
Read the transcript: 
Is Your Company Ready to Export?

New Search Tool Driven by API Helps U.S. Companies Comply with Export Laws

New Search Tool Driven by API Helps U.S. Companies Comply with Export Laws

Starting today, U.S. companies can use a simple tool to search the federal government’s Consolidated Screening List (CSL). The CSL is a streamlined collection of nine different “screening lists” from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, and the Treasury that contains names of individuals and companies with whom a U.S. company may not be allowed to do business due to U.S. export regulations, sanctions, or other restrictions. If a company or individual appears on the list, U.S. firms must do further research into the individual or company in accordance with the administering agency’s rules before doing business with them.

It is extremely important for U.S. businesses to consult the CSL before doing business with a foreign entity to ensure it is not flagged on any of the agency lists. The U.S. agencies that maintain these lists have targeted these entities for various national security and foreign policy reasons, including illegally exporting arms, violating U.S. sanctions, and trafficking narcotics. By consolidating these lists into one collection, the CSL helps support President Obama’s Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative, which is designed to enhance U.S. national security.

In addition to using the simple search tool, the CSL is now available to developers through the International Trade Administration (ITA) Developer Portal ( The Consolidated Screening List API (Application Programming Interface) enables computers to freely access the CSL in an open, machine-readable format.

By making the CSL available as an API, developers and designers can create new tools, websites or mobile apps to access the CSL and display the results, allowing private sector innovation to help disseminate this critical information in ways most helpful to business users. For example, a freight forwarder could integrate this API into its processes and it could automatically check to see if any recipients are on any of these lists, thereby strengthening national security.

During the process of creating the API, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration and Bureau of Industry and Security worked with the Departments of the Treasury and State to form an authoritative, up to date, and easily searchable list with over 8,000 company and individual names and their aliases. These improvements provide options to the downloadable CSL files currently on

In early January, ITA also will release a more comprehensive search tool.

This new API, along with Monday’s announcement of a new Deputy Chief Data Officer and Data Advisory Council, is another step in fulfilling Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda” data priority to open up datasets that keep businesses more competitive, inform decisions that help make government smarter, and better inform citizens about their own communities.

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Addresses Global Opportunities for U.S. Businesses in Minneapolis

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Addresses Global Opportunities for U.S. Businesses in Minneapolis

Earlier this week, Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews traveled to Minneapolis and provided the keynote address on the Administration’s trade agenda and global opportunities for U.S. businesses in the healthcare and life sciences sectors at the Discover Global Markets Healthcare and Life Sciences Conference. The event was part of the Discover Global Markets series, which is sponsored by the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service. 

During his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed his recent trip to China for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, stressing the fact that with the world’s largest population, continued prospects for robust growth, and an aging middle class population demanding more health care, China is clearly a market worth a lot of attention from U.S. companies. U.S. businesses generally are well-positioned to provide innovative health care solutions. Deputy Secretary Andrews pointed out success by U.S. companies in healthcare during Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s recent healthcare and energy business development mission to Japan and South Korea. He also announced that the Commerce Department is planning three upcoming missions to areas where there are growing needs for U.S. medical products and services: the Philippines and Indonesia; Kenya, South Africa, and Mozambique; and Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.
Because of the increasing recognition of U.S. leadership in medical technologies in the region, Deputy Secretary Andrews also stressed the importance of the need to move forward on broad-based regional agreements like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will expand exports, grow our economy, and create good jobs. 
More broadly, Deputy Secretary Andrews addressed the Administration’s commitment to helping American businesses take advantage of new export opportunities. He specifically outlined the five goals of the revamped NEI NEXT strategy: to help businesses find their NEXT customer abroad; to increase the efficiency of a company’s first and NEXT shipment; to help firms finance their NEXT order; to help communities integrate trade and investment into their NEXT growth plans; and to open up the NEXT big markets around the world while ensuring a level playing field.
While in Minneapolis, Deputy Secretary Andrews also had the opportunity to meet with members of the U.S. Commercial Service and District Export Council, both of whom are valuable partners in Commerce’s efforts to support the U.S. export community.

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words -- Nina Vaca

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words -- Nina Vaca

The daughter of entrepreneurs, Nina Vaca grew up believing that entrepreneurship and civic leadership went hand-in-hand.  

She likes to say that she “had a front row seat to what it meant to be an entrepreneur,” working in the family travel agency business by day and attending chamber and civic events at night. 

Since starting her award-winning IT services firm in 1996, Vaca has continued that legacy both as an entrepreneur and a visible leader and advocate in the business community. 

Goldman Sachs has called her one of its “Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs,” Ernst & Young has inducted her into its prestigious Hall of Fame for entrepreneurs, and NBC has called her an “Innovator.” 

Today, Vaca owns and operates The Pinnacle Group, which includes several companies founded by Vaca, including its flagship, Pinnacle Technical Resources, Inc., an award-winning information technology services provider to the Fortune 500 founded in 1996, and Provade, Inc., a global provider of vendor management software that Pinnacle acquired in 2011. Pinnacle is also a partner in My Plates, which is the sole provider of specialty license plates in the state of Texas, contributing millions of dollars in revenues to the state each year. 

Vaca sits on the corporate board of Comerica Bank, Kohl’s Coporation and was elected to the board of Cinemark, Inc. Nov. 13, 2014. 

She is strongly committed to philanthropic efforts and is a passionate advocate of issues impacting women and Hispanics in business. Through the USHCC Foundation, Vaca founded At the Table, an initiative supporting women entrepreneurs and business professionals, propelling them to higher levels of success and influence. Vaca was named Chairman of the USHCC Foundation in June 2014. 

In May, Vaca embarked on a trade mission to Ghana, along with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and 20 American business delegates. Vaca met with local African business leaders at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED), where she shared her story of both success and failure to encourage others to become problem solvers with a perseverant attitude. 

What excites Nina Vaca the most about PAGE is “the opportunity to inspire other entrepreneurs to do exactly what I’ve had the opportunity to do – start a business with a vision and a dream and have access to all the right networks that can help you succeed.”

Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration works hard to help companies that are ready to export compete and succeed in global markets.

We want to emphasize that it’s never too early for entrepreneurs to start thinking about exporting – determining financing needs, targeting markets, conducting research, etc.

As we’ve worked with global startups, we’ve learned it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to connect to existing resources to help them go global. We realize that start-ups differ in their capabilities at various stages of the business development process, but want to help young businesses incorporate export plans into their business model as early as possible.

One great way to get started is to be a part of ExporTech, which can help your company develop its export plan, then have it vetted by a panel of experts. More than 575 companies have participated in Exportech, with an average sales increase or retention of $770,000.

Here are four more tips for the busy entrepreneur to help address specific needs to start exporting:

  1. Secure access to capital: Many local and state governments have seed capital and investment programs just for their states’ entrepreneurs and startups. Many states have small business development programs or startup-specific outreach programs designed to assist entrepreneurs to access capital- as well as educate them on best practices. On the federal level, there is the Small Business Administration, which has programs like the U.S. Small Business Investment Company program. A list of other loans directed towards helping small businesses go global can be found here.
  2. Secure your Intellectual Property: In order to increase the confidence a startup requires for going global, we need to ensure they know about what our U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is doing to protect American start-up’s intellectual property. Here are five simple steps to get started, and you can find more information at  
  3. Do your Research. One important thing you need to figure out is the right target market for your exports. Understand the market trends and figure out your company’s competitive advantage. You can find market research reports on or by visiting your nearest Export Assistance Center. Here are some other important questions you should answer from the start.
  4. Find the Right Partners. Every market is different, and having a good partner on the ground -- whether it’s your legal representation, a distributor, or a sales representative – can make a huge difference in your company’s success. Consider ITA’s Gold Key Matchmaking Service to help you find the right partner for your needs.

By helping America’s high-growth start-ups go global, trade will become a broader part of doing business in the United States. The International Trade Administration and the Department of Commerce are committed to enabling our next generation of globally fluent businesses.

Contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to get started.

Deputy Secretary Andrews Promotes SelectUSA and Fostering Foreign Investment at APEC in Beijing

SelectUSA Investment Summit March 23 and 24, 2015

This past weekend at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews participated in a roundtable with some of China’s most influential business leaders to discuss fostering investment and innovation in the world’s two largest economies – the United States and China.

Hosted by the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry, the roundtable stressed the importance of cooperation between the United States and China to expand economic opportunities in both countries and strengthen global growth.  Other U.S. government officials in attendance included Ambassador Max Baucus, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rifkin, and Deputy USTR Ambassador Robert Holleyman.

During the discussion, Deputy Secretary Andrews promoted further foreign investment in the United States by explaining the importance of SelectUSA, the first-ever U.S. government-wide effort to promote, attract, retain, and expand business investment to and within the United States. Created by President Obama and led by the Department of Commerce, the inaugural SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC transformed into a sold-out event with more than 1,300 participants, including representatives of 450 foreign or multinational firms from 60 different markets. With China as the fastest growing source of direct investment in the United States, Deputy Secretary Andrews also recognized the positive contribution of China’s growing investment position.

With this in mind, Deputy Secretary Andrews extended an invitation to attend the next SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC from March 23-24, 2015.

After Deputy Secretary Andrews spoke, the Chinese business leaders provided brief overviews of their companies and experiences investing in the United States.

This discussion underscored the U.S. government’s openness to investment from China and how a transparent and fair investment climate in China could help foster a healthy and positive economic bilateral relationship.

APEC is central to U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, serving as the leading forum for facilitating trade and investment and promoting economic growth in one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The Department of Commerce’s participation in many APEC issues – including business ethics, cross border data privacy, disaster risk reduction, and oceans – reflects its commitment to strengthening collaboration with Asian economies in a range of sectors, and reflects the President’s message of support for existing multi-lateral institutions in Asia.

Secretary Pritzker Works to Promote More Business in Africa

Secretary Pritzker Works to Promote More Business in Africa

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Atlanta, Georgia this week to emphasize the importance of helping U.S. companies launch and increase their business in Africa at the “Discover Global Markets: Sub-Saharan Africa” Conference. The event brought together U.S. government officials, visiting U.S. commercial diplomats posted at embassies throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, international business leaders, trade finance experts, and others to help companies identify and develop trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

Secretary Pritzker reiterated America’s commitment to solving the Ebola crisis, while emphasizing that fears about the virus should not get in the way of the facts on the ground in Africa. Ebola is confined to just three countries with a total population of roughly 21 million, while the entire African continent is home to 1.1 billion. The world public health apparatus is actively engaged, and doctors, nurses, and medical workers are using the proper protocols to treat patients and to slow the number of new cases. Efforts to eliminate the virus are starting to turn the corner, and growth of the disease is slowing in Liberia.

Despite the challenges presented by Ebola, Africa presents tremendous long-term growth opportunities, and both the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector are committed to deepening our economic and commercial engagement on the continent. Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world – including Chad, Congo, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. Real income has increased more than 30 percent, reversing two decades of decline, and GDP is expected to rise 6 percent each year over the next decade. By 2040, Africa will boast a larger workforce than either India or China.

The Discover Global Markets Forum served to increase economic and commercial engagement in Africa by helping companies launch or increase their business on the continent. The event also built on the success of the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which the Department of Commerce co-hosted in August. This Forum brought together hundreds of American and African chief executives officers with nearly every African head of state to spur more trade and investment between the United States and Africa. At this Forum, U.S. firms announced more than $14 billion worth of investments throughout the continent.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Emphasizes Importance of North American Platform with Canada’s Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal

During her trip to Canada, U.S Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker attended the fourth North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC) in Toronto. The conference provided a chance for the Secretary to meet with her Canadian and Mexican counterparts to discuss ways to strengthen the North American platform, which will create jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for workers, families, and businesses in all three countries. 

In meetings throughout the day, Secretary Pritzker, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal talked about areas of potential collaboration that will help make North America the most competitive place in the world to do business. 

This is the second time Secretary Pritzker has attended NACIC. Last year, the three countries agreed to work on a constructive agenda to strengthen their trade and economic relationship and pledged to continue helping businesses grow and American workers succeed through enhanced regulatory cooperation, and coordinated efforts to facilitate increased trade through many initiatives, including the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. 

Since last year, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have achieved progress in several tangible areas by promoting the advantages of investing in North America, continuing to foster an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation; and improving the efficiencies of cross-border trade and travel. 

This year, Secretary Pritzker, Minister Fast and Secretary Guajardo talked about additional areas of cooperation that will help them add to the success that has already been achieved, and build upon the continent’s many competitive advantages. Joint investment promotion – or promoting investment into North America from countries outside the continent – will continue to be a focus. Since 2003, nearly 14,000 projects have been announced in North America by outside parties, representing $724.8 billion in capital investment. 

Additionally, by the end of 2014, Canada, Mexico and the United States will each have hosted business and government leaders from the other countries to share knowledge and best practices about innovation incubators, technology accelerators, and how public-private partnerships can revitalize economic regions. With many business and regions still recovering from the global economic slowdown, these innovative exchanges are important to ensuring that new business creation can lead to future growth.  

Secretary Pritzker and Canadian Partners Discuss Increasing Investments on Both Sides of the Border

Secretary Pritzker laying a wreath at the Canadian War Memorial, extending her deepest sympathy for the loss of Canada's heroes.

During a two day trip to Ottawa and Toronto, Canada, Secretary Penny Pritzker met with Canadian Minister of Industry James Moore and Minister of International Trade Ed Fast to discuss U.S. – Canada trade relations and ways our countries can enhance commercial and economic competitiveness.  

During her stop in Ottawa, Secretary Pritzker also delivered the keynote address at an event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada, where she emphasized expanding bilateral and North American growth and competitiveness through increased trade, investment, and innovation. She also reaffirmed North America’s commitment to completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a high-standard trade agreement that opens new markets across the Asia-Pacific to goods and services made in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Secretary Pritzker also took a moment during her trip to acknowledge the gruesome attack last week in Canada, and offered condolences to the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent as well as the people of Canada.

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Korean Leaders to Expand Trade and Grow Economic Partnerships

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Korean Pesident Park Geun-hye on the Trade Mission

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with President of Korea Park Geun-hye, the first female President in South Korea, as well as Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) Yoon Sang-jick, and Minister for Health and Welfare, Moon Hyung-pyo. The meetings with Korean leaders are part of Secretary Pritzker’s trade mission she is leading with 20 U.S. companies to explore new opportunities for American firms in the health care and energy sectors. 

Three years ago, the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement went into effect, providing the foundation for stronger economic partnerships and growing trade and investment relations between the two countries. During the mission, Secretary Pritzker reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to deepen U.S. engagement in Asia and emphasized that her visit to Korea is a reflection of the commercial and economic component of the President’s rebalance to Asia. Secretary Pritzker and President Park discussed ways to continue moving both economies forward in the 21st century by seeking new ideas to expand business-to-business ties. In addition, the Secretary applauded President Park’s vision of building a “Creative Economy” in Korea by spurring new business opportunities, industries, and jobs through innovation and entrepreneurship. The meeting concluded with Secretary Pritzker saying that the global business community needs to continue to innovate and explore creative and alternative ways of doing business to grow and stay competitive. 

Secretary Pritzker also met with Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) Yoon Sang-jick to discuss entrepreneurship and the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) being integrated into the global business community. As President Obama’s chair of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, Secretary Pritzker is working with leaders and businesspeople throughout the world to help create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive. The Secretary also asked Minister Yoon for a commitment to work together to expand industry engagement under the U.S.-Korea Clean Energy Policy Dialogue, by including business participation. Delegations from both countries met in June in Seoul to discuss clean energy technology cooperation, marking progress in smart/micro grids, fuel cells, and energy storage research and development. The Clean Energy Policy Dialogue will continue those talks and broaden the focus to discuss energy policy issues.  

Lastly, the Secretary met with Minister for Health and Welfare, Moon Hyung-pyo. With South Korea’s total market for drugs and medical device products reaching roughly $21 billion, the two leaders discussed how the United States and Korea can build new partnerships in the area of healthcare as well as Korea’s interest in becoming a global hub for clinical trials. 

The main focus of Secretary Pritzker’s visit is to introduce new-to-market firms and expand the market presence of American medical, pharmaceutical and energy-related firms that have innovative products and services. Developments in these sectors can be harnessed to improve the standard of living for citizens of both countries. 

Commerce Secretary Pritzker Discusses Opportunities for U.S. Businesses in Japan

Secretary Pritzker Delivers Keynote Address at American Chamber of Commerce in Japan

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with representatives from the Japanese healthcare and energy sectors as part of a series of roundtables to discuss American and Japanese business relationships and improve U.S. investment in the Japanese market. These events are part of the Secretary’s trade mission to establish new partnerships and expand the market presence of U.S. medical/pharmaceutical and energy-related companies with innovative products and services.

The roundtable provided U.S. and Japanese entities the chance to share views about the opportunities that exist in the Japanese market and to encourage the development of partnerships that may lead to future breakthroughs in the energy and health sectors.

Secretary Pritzker also delivered a keynote address at an event sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) and the Japanese Industry Association, Keizai Doyukai. She opened her remarks by thanking Ambassador Kennedy, who is working side by side with the Commerce Department’s Foreign Commercial Service Officers stationed in Japan and thanked the team, led by Andrew Wylegala.

During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the important role that U.S. and Japanese businesses play in anchoring our relationship, highlighted the U.S. as a key destination for investment, promoted the upcoming SelectUSA Summit on foreign investment, and highlighted the healthcare and energy sectors as two sectors of critical importance to growth, innovation, and quality of life in both countries.

Secretary Pritzker touched on America’s drive to strengthen commercial partnerships, help Japan develop new energy technology, optimize the mix of energy imports, and increase energy conservation. The U.S. anticipates continued high growth in the renewable energy sector, providing excellent opportunities for American firms that have cutting-edge, cost-competitive products and services.

Commerce Secretary Pritzker Begins Business Development Mission to Japan and Seeks Opportunities for U.S. Companies in Health Care and Energy Sectors

Commerce Secretary Pritzker Begins Business Development Mission to Japan and Seeks Opportunities for U.S. Companies in Health Care and Energy Sectors

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today began a five-day Business Development Mission to Japan and South Korea and met with Japanese leaders in Tokyo to address opportunities for U.S. companies to launch or increase their business in the health care and energy sectors. Due to a lack of natural resources, both Japan and South Korea have long been dependent on imported energy sources to meet their energy needs.

During her first day in Tokyo, Secretary Pritzker was joined by U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and the business delegation in several bilateral meetings with Japanese leaders.  During her meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Secretary Pritzker commended him on his government’s commitment to reform throughout his two years in office, and noted that American businesses are eager to partner with Japan in the country's ongoing efforts to reform and strengthen its health care and energy sectors. She also praised Prime Minister Abe for his vision in entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and she discussed the need for the U.S. and Japan to be creative and bold as the countries enter the final stages of the negotiations.

Following her meeting with the Prime Minister, Secretary Prtizker met with Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Yasuhisa Shiozaki. During the meeting she addressed the importance of continued engagement on medical device and pharmaceutical issues, stressing the concerns the industry has with annual price revisions in the medical devices and pharmaceutical sectors.  She also thanked the Minister for Japan’s cooperation on vaccine issues and stressed the need for continued cooperation on Ebola response efforts.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Leads Business Development Mission to Japan and South Korea

Home to nearly 60 percent of the world’s GDP and the fastest growing economies, the Asia-Pacific region offers a wide array of opportunities for United States businesses and workers. To further improve the U.S. economy, the Obama Administration recognizes the critical importance of strengthening its well-established trading partnerships in the region, particularly with Japan and South Korea.

With the fourth and thirteenth highest GDP respectively, Japan and South Korea are highly developed, stable markets for trade and investment. The healthcare sector in both countries is expanding quickly to meet rising demand. In Japan, there is a rapidly-aging demographic profile, with a population aged above 65 years, which will increase from 25.1 percent in 2013 to 29.2 percent by 2023. In addition, South Korea is emerging as a hub for global medical tourism by attracting and training world-renowned doctors and developing more advanced clinical trials.

To take advantage of these growing market opportunities, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will leave tomorrow for Asia to lead 20 American firms on a Business Development Mission with stops in Japan and South Korea. The business delegation includes small and big companies, such as C3 Energy, HPI, and Oregon. The mission will focus on expanding opportunities for U.S. businesses in the healthcare and energy sectors and will also look for ways to help the region develop and manage energy resources and systems, and build out power generation, transmission, and distribution.  

As the voice of business in the Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, plays a pivotal role in expanding market access for U.S. companies in countries around the world. Specifically on this mission, Secretary Pritzker and American businesses will meet with Japanese and South Korean business leaders in the medical device, biotechnology, regenerative medicine, energy and health IT sectors to explore opportunities for partnership and investment.

The Commerce Department is committed to creating more opportunities for American businesses to flourish both at home and abroad. During the mission, Secretary Pritzker will also focus on reinforcing trade agreements that reflect our values, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), that will help U.S. firms gain greater access to the Japan and South Korea markets.

This will be Secretary Pritzker’s first trade mission to Asia since taking office in June 2013 and will promote U.S. exports to Japan and South Korea by helping American companies launch or increase their business in these key markets.  The mission will make stops in Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea.

Expanding U.S.-China Commercial Relations Remains a Top Priority

ITA Trade Specialists Meet with U.S. Exporters at the DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Greater China and Gateway Countries forum

The U.S.-China commercial relationship remains one of great success and growing potential, despite continuing challenges.

That’s the major takeaway after two weeks of heavy focus on China at the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA).

It began with the DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Greater China and Gateway Countries forum Oct. 7-8 in New York City, during which our global team provided export guidance to more than 300 business representatives looking to export to the region.

Then this week, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig visited Shanghai and Beijing in advance of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) high level meetings that the Department of Commerce will host along with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the United States later this year.

While in China, Under Secretary Selig participated in JCCT Vice-Ministerial meetings with China’s Ministry of Commerce, and co-chaired the JCCT U.S.-China Industries and Competitiveness Dialogue with Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman and China’s Vice Minister of Information and Industry Technology Liu Lihua.

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.

Secretary Pritzker and CEOs from the President’s Export Council Explore Market Opportunities with Turkish Business Leaders

Secretary Pritzker and CEOs from the President’s Export Council Explore Market Opportunities with Turkish Business Leaders
After a productive stop in Poland, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Turkey with CEOs from the President’s Export Council (PEC) to explore opportunities for U.S. firms interested in the market and address outstanding challenges to expanding bilateral trade and investment. 
While the United States and Turkey have sustained deep strategic and diplomatic ties for decades, both countries want to expand their economic and commercial relationship. In 2009, President Obama visited Turkey and established the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC) with then-Prime Minister of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan. The two leaders tasked the U.S. and Turkish governments to create a framework to help substantially increase the trade and investment flows between both countries to help strengthen the economic dimension of our partnership. Now, Secretary Pritzker and the PEC CEOs -- serving as commercial ambassadors -- are working to expand and strengthen this relationship through meetings with Turkish government and business leaders in Istanbul and Ankara.
In Istanbul, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks to more than 200 Turkish business leaders and guests at the AmCham/American Business Forum in Turkey (ABFT) 10th Anniversary gala. She noted that progress has been made in the U.S.-Turkey commercial relationship, with total bilateral trade in 2013 just under $20 billion.  

She also stressed three challenges U.S. businesses face in the Turkish market that must be addressed: greater transparency in government procurement; commercial offsets – a policy that forces companies to produce locally; and the ability to obtain Good Manufacturing Practices certification. Ilker Ayci, President of Turkey’s Investment Promotion Agency, also shared Secretary Pritzker’s sentiment that the United States and Turkey must work together now to address current obstacles.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Prizker Co-Chairs Economic and Commercial Dialogue with Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Piechocinski

U.S. Commerce Secretary Prizker Co-Chairs Economic and Commercial Dialogue with Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Piechocinski

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Janusz Piechociński in co-chairing an Executive Session of the Economic and Commercial Dialogue (ECD). The ECD is a forum created by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Polish Ministry of Economy to work specifically on strengthening the ability of our companies and investors to do business in each other's markets. Secretary Pritzker is traveling with a delegation of some of America's top CEOs who are members of the President's Export Council.            

At yesterday's meeting, Secretary Pritzker and the PEC CEOs addressed collaborative and tangible ways to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland, particularly as Poland's economy continues to grow. Poland currently has the sixth-largest and one of the fastest growing economies in the EU, and growth is projected to continue in 2014. While bilateral trade between the U.S. and Poland has quadrupled over the past 10 years, reaching nearly $8.8 billion in 2013, there is tremendous opportunity for continued growth.

One mechanism to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the United States and the EU. Once concluded, TTIP will combine the U.S. and EU markets into a stronger transatlantic marketplace, with more than 800 million customers. The U.S. considers Poland an important voice in TTIP negotiations.

Supporting Manufacturers on Manufacturing Day and Every Day

Manufacturing is a crucial contributor to the economy of North Carolina and the entire United States.

Guest blog post by Greg Sizemore is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service team in North Carolina.

Cross-posted from

Manufacturing is more than just a cornerstone of the U.S. economy; it’s a cornerstone of modern life.

The screen you’re reading this on is a manufactured commodity. The radio you’re listening to, the car you drove to work, the smartphone your kids keep staring at – your refrigerator, your TV, your medicine – all manufactured goods.

Many headlines about U.S. manufacturing are negative, focusing on increased global competition in the sector, but the fact is that the U.S. manufacturing industry is growing, it’s supporting jobs, and it is supporting higher quality of life here in the U.S. and around the world.

Manufacturing is also a major source of U.S. exports, and the International Trade Administration estimates that one in four U.S. manufacturing jobs is supported by exports. That’s huge for our economy and I’m glad that we’ll celebrate the industry on Manufacturing Day on October 3.

Here in North Carolina, our manufacturers are creating and exporting billions of dollars’ worth of transportation equipment, chemicals, electronics products plastics, and more. I’m glad that my office in Charlotte and our other Export Assistance Centers in the state get to work with local manufacturers to find opportunities to sell their quality products in foreign markets.

If you’re a manufacturer looking to do business overseas, here are some of the services an Export Assistance Center can provide for you:

  • Market Research: Find out you product’s potential in a given market. Learn about specific regulations that could affect your business model. This kind of information is crucial for your export strategy.
  • Gold Key Matchmaking: Who are the best distributors in a market? What potential joint venture partners exist? What are the best government contacts for you to have? We can find those contacts, make introductions, and make sure you spend your time doing what’s most important: managing your company.
  • Trade Missions: Imagine you could go on a trip to a target market, surrounded by market and industry experts, and meet the foreign government and industry leaders most relevant to your business. That is a trade mission. We connect you to the most relevant opportunities and contacts to make sure you have every advantage to being successful in a market.
  • Trade Leads: We have commercial diplomats on the ground in more than 70 global markets and they have their fingers on the pulse of the business environment. Let us tell you the most current and relevant opportunities for your business around the globe.

You should also consider attending an event in our DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS Business Forum Series. We have export-promotion events coming up in New York, Georgia, Minnesota, and – of course – North Carolina, to support your business in competing abroad. There’s no better event to give your company a leg up in the global marketplace.

There are many other ways the Commercial Service can support your manufacturing business, so contact your nearest Export Assistance Center for assistance.

As Manufacturing Day approaches, I want to thank the 50-plus North Carolina-based manufacturers who are opening their doors to the public on October 3. I hope many of you in the Tar Heel State, and around the country, will participate in Manufacturing Day this year!

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker and I announced that we will lead a high-level delegation on an economic fact-finding trip to Poland and Turkey later this month. I am excited to participate in the first PEC fact-finding mission for the Obama administration. 

That delegation — members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) — is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the president. It includes both public officials and private sector leaders. 

The private sector leadership that will participate during the trip represent many of the most successful and important companies doing business globally today. That includes the PEC vice chair, Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. 

CEOs and senior executives from Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Dow Chemical, eBay, IBM, and Pfizer, among others, will also participate in the fact-finding mission. 

With Poland as the sixth largest economy in the EU, and Turkey tripling its GDP per capita since 2002, the trade and investment opportunities are plenty and promising, particularly as they relate to economic growth for American businesses. 

After exploring potential opportunities in these countries, the PEC will report its findings to President Obama later this year. This trip is also an occasion for both the administration and American businesses to expand its presence in the field of commercial diplomacy. Working together as partners, we are deepening U.S. economic ties and continue to strengthen our presence on the global stage. 

In fact, one of the reasons I am excited to lead ITA at this moment in time, is because I believe we have a significant role in shaping international economic priorities.  

We can drive commercial diplomacy to new heights. 

From our Doing Business in Africa campaign, which helps facilitate business deals that result in trade-based development for the continent and jobs for the United States, to our Look South Initiative, which is designed to increase trade and investment with our neighbors to the south, or trade missions that promote clean, renewable energy throughout the world, the linkages between our trade and our diplomatic priorities is clearer than ever. 

For more information about the PEC, its members, or history, visit Stay tuned for our report to the president. 

Deputy Secretary Andrews Highlights Efforts to Boost Rural Exports in Upstate New York

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews says that his native Syracuse is 'poised to succeed' at the White House Rural Council "Made in Rural America" Forum

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews highlighted efforts to boost rural exports in upstate New York at a “Made in Rural America” forum at SUNY Cortland. Deputy Secretary Andrews was joined by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at the event, where both delivered remarks on how to position rural America for success in the 21st century.

Co-hosted by the White House, U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Appalachian Regional Commission, the forum convened local business leaders, industry representatives, economic development organizations and local, state and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow. The forum supports the Administration’s “Made in Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative that President Obama announced earlier this year to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed Commerce Department work to ensure small and medium-size businesses have the tools needed to begin or expand exports and create good jobs. Specifically, he outlined goals to expand the national and global footprint of our local and rural businesses; create good-paying jobs for our workers; and cultivate prosperity in communities across Central New York.

Daring to Be Great in Supporting U.S. Exporters

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

Cross blog post by by Judy Reinke, Deputy Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

In order to support U.S. businesses going global, the International Trade Administration itself needs to be global.

That’s why we maintain staff throughout the United States and in more than 70 markets around the world, connecting companies of all sizes to opportunities in the international marketplace.

Technology has helped us execute our mission across borders, between time zones, and through language barriers. But just like we tell our clients seeking overseas partners, sometimes there’s no substitute for an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

That’s why I am excited about our Global Markets Global Meeting this week, bringing together ITA’s senior Commercial Service staff from the United States and around the world to share best practices, learn about new opportunities, and connect with the people who are making commerce happen – people we sometimes only know by email.

It’s been more than 10 years since our last meeting of this magnitude, and this week’s event will enable us to better execute our mission and understand new methods to better support our clients.

Commerce Department Reports Demonstrate that Exports Continue to Help Spur U.S. Economy and Support Jobs

Exports of Goods Supported 7.1 million jobs in 2013

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce today released two new reports that further prove exports are strengthening our economy and creating good jobs. I am very pleased that for the very first time, our department has released data detailing the number of jobs supported by goods exports in 2013 in each of the 50 states. A second report released today highlights the level of goods exports achieved by each of the nation’s 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in 2013.

Back in 2010, President Obama launched the first-ever national strategy to increase exports, the National Export Initiative (NEI), with the idea that American businesses could lead our economic recovery by selling more of their goods and services to markets all over the world. The NEI has been a remarkable success. The United States has broken export records for four straight years, hitting an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year, up $700 billion from 2009. And just four years after NEI was launched, we know that 1.6 million more Americans have export-supported jobs, bringing the total to 11.3 million Americans who wake up every day and go to work in jobs supported by exports.

Today’s new data show more evidence of the NEI’s success. The first report released today, Jobs Supported by Goods Exports from States in 2013, breaks down the national total of jobs supported by good exports in 2013, 7.1 million, into estimates of the number of jobs in each state that are supported by goods exports. Texas exports supported more jobs – an estimated 1.1. million – than were supported by the exports from any other single state. Data show that goods exports from Texas, California, Washington, Illinois and New York supported an estimated 3 million jobs, or 43 percent of all U.S. jobs supported by exports in 2013.

Welcoming Investment from South America

Profile photo of Aaron Brickman, Deputy Executive Director, SelectUSA

Guest blog post by Deputy Executive Director, SelectUSA Aaron Brickman

Not only is South America the birthplace of soccer greats and the location of natural wonders, it is also an important and rapidly growing source of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States. According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), more than 85,000 men and women go to work each day at South American companies operating in the United States.

The SelectUSA South America Road Show this week connected U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) directly with inversores and investidores in Santiago, Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Bogota, Colombia to build opportunities for even more South American companies to succeed in U.S. cities and regions.

Why did SelectUSA’s first South American Road Show focus on Chile, Brazil, and Colombia?

  • These three countries accounted for nearly a quarter of inward investment from Latin American sources in 2013.
  • Brazil is the largest source of investment from South America, with a total stock of nearly $15 billion in 2013. Brazilian companies such as JBS, Embraer, Braskem, and Chilli Beans have made significant investments in the United States over the past several years. The annual growth rate of Brazilian investment averaged 19.6 percent between 2009 and 2013, making Brazil the ninth-fastest global source of investment to our country. There is robust interest from a diversity of sectors: 325 Brazilian firms took part in our seminar and one-on-one meetings with EDOs.
  • As of 2013, the stock of FDI from Chile into the United States stood at $983 million. Investment from Chile, with which we have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9 percent since 2009. More than 130 Chilean firms registered for the Road Show, and we were joined by Arauco and Elecmetal – two well-known Chilean companies who shared their experience investing in the United States.
  • Colombia, another FTA partner, was the source of over $2 billion of FDI stock in the United States as of 2013. A recent example includes Fehr Foods, a subsidiary of Grupo Nutresa, which announced earlier this year that it will invest an additional $32 million and create 105 jobs in its U.S plant. Many more Colombian firms are looking to find success in the United States, as evidenced by the 190 participants in the Road Show in Bogota. FDI from Colombia to the United States from 2009 to 2014 grew at a compound annual growth rate of 14.6 percent.

Historic Forum Yields Significant Gains for Africa-U.S. Business Ties

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig speaking with Elizabeth Littlefield, President & CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum

Guest blog post by the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies co-hosted an event showing that Africa is one of the world’s next great sources of economic growth.

The first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum brought together American and African business leaders with the heads of nearly 50 African nations to exchange ideas and create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment.

And this was not just an academic discussion. We built the kind of relationships that will help usher in a new level of success for the growing economies and businesses of Africa, as well as spur real gains for U.S. companies.

Several American companies, among others, announced new partnerships in Africa, resulting in multi-million and multi-billion dollar deals:

Also, as part of the White House’s Power Africa initiative—which pledges to invest $7 billion and create an additional 10,000 megawatts of cleaner electricity over the next five years— American company Contour Global secured a $120 million contract to rehabilitate an existing Senegalese power site and construct a new one. That deal will provide another 53 megawatts of electricity to Senegal’s citizens.

As excited as my colleagues and I are about these deals, contract signings weren’t the only highlights of the forum.

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. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Makes First Official Trip to India for U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Makes First Official Trip to India for U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

The commercial relationship between United States and India has long stood as a core pillar of the alliance between our two countries. The United States is committed to reinvigorating ties with India and expanding our economic partnership.  That is why U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to India this week, where she joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi. Their trip marks the first U.S. Cabinet-level visit to New Delhi since the new Indian government was elected. Earlier this week, Secretary Pritzker visited Mumbai for meetings with Indian business leaders to discuss new avenues to reinvigorate economic ties between our two nations.

While in Mumbai, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks at an event hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), focused on the U.S. commitment to partner with the newly-elected Indian government, especially in areas of infrastructure, manufacturing, and business investment. Founded over 115 years ago, CII is one of the most important business groups in India and plays an active role in India’s development process. 

As part of efforts to advance the U.S.-India economic partnership, Vinai Thummalapally and Chairman & Managing Director of Export-Import Bank of India Yaduvendra Mathur signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) between SelectUSA and the India’s Export-Import Bank. This MOI will encourage collaboration to attract Indian investment to the United States. SelectUSA is the first U.S. government-wide program to promote and facilitate business investment in the United States. Export-Import Bank of India directly supports Indian foreign direct investments abroad.  

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.

Building Bridges to Young Africa Leaders

Building Bridges to Young Africa Leaders

Guest blog post by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews

The United States understands the importance of creating opportunities for young people to succeed, both in this country and around the world. That is why yesterday, during a town hall with 500 exceptional young people who participated in the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders - President Obama announced the expansion of his Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). At the town hall, President Obama announced that the fellowship, the flagship YALI program, will be renamed the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders,” and will be doubled to reach 1,000 participants per year by 2016. Launched in 2014, YALI is a signature effort to support the next generation of African leaders and embodies President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa. The Washington Fellowship connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at some of America’s top universities to help expand their leadership skills and knowledge so they can foster change in their communities and countries.

At the Commerce Department, we are also working closely with young entrepreneurs to help spur economic growth by helping them gain the skills and connections they need to launch new businesses and create jobs in their communities. Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of the global economy, giving people the power to unlock their economic potential and transform their communities. With the launch of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, chaired by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the U.S. government is partnering with 11 prominent American business leaders to mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs. Africa is an area of interest for PAGE efforts. In fact, as part of a trade mission to West Africa this past May, Secretary Pritzker and PAGE member Nina Vaca, CEO of Pinnacle Technical Resources, visited the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and the MEST Incubator program, which provides training, investment and mentoring opportunities for aspiring technology entrepreneurs in Africa. In addition, PAGE members Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution, and Alexa von Tobel, CEO of LearnVest, will be sharing their experiences and expertise on Wednesday on an “Enabling Inclusive Economic Development” plenary session, as part of the fellowship Summit.

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.

U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Texas Oil Company Started Doing Business in Cameroon and Morocco

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.

The geographic distance between Texas-based Arnold Oil Company and Sub-Saharan Africa may be thousands of miles, but their economic relationship has never been closer. U.S. businesses like the Arnold Oil Company are increasingly finding economic opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa: between 2001 to 2012, U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from $6.9 billion to $22.5 billion dollars. Africa is now home to six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world, leading President Obama to call sub-Saharan Africa the “world’s next major economic success story.” That is why the Department of Commerce is working to facilitate and advocate for American businesses in this growing region, and U.S. firms are eager to help unlock even more of Africa’s economic potential.

A family-owned supplier of automotive and oil lubricant products, the Arnold Oil Company became interested in expanding its business abroad. They met with the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Austin to request assistance in developing an exporting and marketing plan for their products. After creating a plan that satisfied the company, the USEAC arranged for a meeting with a representative from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to assist the Arnold Oil Company with financing its exports.

But the USEAC took its assistance one step further, introducing the Arnold Oil Company to a buyer in Cameroon, who eventually was signed as a distributer. As a result of this relationship, the Arnold Oil Company was able to ship their first exports of oil lubricants to Morocco, generating revenue of more than $24,000 in 2013. With assistance from the USEAC, the Arnold Oil Company was able to expand its business into one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Talks About Efforts to Boost Exports in the Rural Delta

Secretary Pritzker promoting rural exports in Memphis

Exports are an important tool for economic development and job creation, which is why the Obama Administration has made increased exports a central pillar of its strategy for economic growth. With the recent launch of NEI/NEXT, the next phase of the successful National Export Initiative, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Pritzker has made it a priority to expand the U.S. export base and to help more American businesses of all sizes – including rural businesses – capitalize on opportunities in foreign markets.

As part of this effort, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Memphis, Tennessee Thursday to participate in the “Made in Rural America” Regional Forum, focused on boosting rural exports. Hosted by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), the forum convened small business owners, industry representatives, business support organizations, and local, state, and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow and reach the 95% of customers that live outside our borders. Secretary Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion with DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and discussed how we can all work together to enhance opportunities for businesses in rural communities and how we can focus on ways to increase exports from the Delta region’s many businesses. Today’s forum is the second of five regional forums to be held across the country, aimed at helping local businesses integrate exports into their economic growth strategies.

At the Forum, Secretary Pritzker discussed the Commerce Department’s resources to help rural businesses compete in the global marketplace. The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) has trade specialists in more than 100 U.S. cities and over 70 countries worldwide to help companies take advantage of business opportunities abroad and connect them to trade events, foreign buyers, and other partners. In fact, about 85 percent of ITA’s clients are small and medium-sized businesses, and on average 38 percent are rural exporters.

Since the launch of the NEI in 2010, 1.6 million more Americans are earning a paycheck from an export-supported job, bringing the total to 11.3 million jobs – the highest in 20 years.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Discusses Opportunities for U.S. Companies to Export

U.S. exports reached a record $2.3 trillion in 2013 and support a record 11.3 million U.S. jobs. Thousands of companies across the country made exporting a strategy to growing their business and in fact, exports have driven the economic recovery and job creation in a number of U.S. cities. Because of the critical role of exports, the Department of Commerce recently launched the next phase of the National Export Initiative, NEI/NEXT. Building on the success of the National Export Initiative, NEI/NEXT is a new customer service-driven strategy with improved information resources that will help American businesses capitalize on existing and new opportunities to sell Made-in-America goods and services abroad.

As part of this effort, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited the Qualcomm headquarters in San Diego, Calif. yesterday, where she led a roundtable discussion on the importance of U.S. exports with the “Global San Diego Export Plan” team. This plan, which aims to integrate exports into San Diego’s economic development strategy, is being developed in close consultation with the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

During the roundtable discussion, Secretary Pritzker met with local private and public sector leaders and learned more about the success of their export strategy and the challenges they still face. The partnership-driven export and investment strategy has made a big impact on the San Diego economy, but there are still more areas and opportunities for growth. One of the key objectives of NEI/NEXT is to promote exports as an economic development priority for communities across the country. San Diego’s export plan is an excellent example for how other cities and metropolitan areas across the country can partner with businesses and government to better facilitate exports.

Roundtable participants also spoke about the practical challenges they are facing including the role of small and medium sized businesses, infrastructure, retaining talent and branding. Secretary Pritzker discussed Department of Commerce resources and ways the Department and ITA could provide assistance to businesses and the Export Plan team to help overcome some of these challenges.

Since the launch of President Obama's National Export Initiative in 2010, the United States has seen strong export-driven economic growth and has broken export records four years in a row. Increasing U.S. exports remains a top priority for the Obama Administration, and the Commerce Department is ready to assist San Diego and other communities in making the most of their exporting potential.

Introducing ITA’s Trade Developer Portal

ITA's Trade Developer Portal.

Cross post by Kimberly Becht, Deputy Program Manager for Web Presence in the International Trade Administration.

In support of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative and the Commerce Department’s strategic plan, the International Trade Administration (ITA) has taken a major step in making its data open and accessible to the public through its Trade Developer Portal.

Announced today by Secretary Pritzker, the portal is a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow software developers to create web and mobile applications using information produced by ITA and other trade promotion agencies.

Making its data public to software developers is one more way ITA is helping U.S. businesses export and enabling foreign investment in American companies through the use of cutting edge technologies.

The Trade Developer Portal helps fulfill the Department’s top priority of making federal data open and available to third party developers in order to foster economic growth.

Currently, the developer portal includes:

  • access to information about trade events;
  • market research;
  • trade leads;
  • locations of domestic and international export assistance centers; and
  • trade news and articles.

Our developer portal can help developers show country-specific pages based on U.S. government data.

Over the next few months, we plan to add APIs around business opportunities, tariff information for goods and services covered under Free Trade Agreements, and frequent questions asked by exporters. We are continuously adding and enriching data sets with the long-term goal of sharing all publicly disseminated information produced by ITA and other trade promotion agencies.

Through the portal, we will engage developers by showcasing applications, providing access to our data owners, and soliciting input to help us improve the quality of public data. The picture on the left is just one example of what can be done using the information currently available in our Trade Developer Portal.

If you have any questions about the portal or need assistance using our APIs, please let us know.  We are excited to partner with you in the next phase of the open data revolution!

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits Shanghai Ahead of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits Shanghai Ahead of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue

This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to China, where she made a stop in Shanghai ahead of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) starting today in Beijing. At a roundtable with American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai on Tuesday, Secretary Pritzker met with a number of CEOs and business leaders from companies doing work in China. They discussed the business climate in China and ways the Department of Commerce can be effective in helping companies expand opportunities in China. Secretary Pritzker also discussed her visit to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone on Monday, as well as the upcoming S&ED and what she hoped would get accomplished during the upcoming talks.

Secretary Pritzker also met with the Commercial Service Officers at the consulate in Shanghai. The Commercial Service (CS), part of the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA), plays a vital role in helping American companies start exporting or expand their reach into international markets. CS helps U.S. businesses overcome trade barriers, find global business opportunities and partners, and attract investment to U.S. shores.

As part of President Obama’s deliberate decision to deepen U.S. engagement with Asia, Secretary Pritzker has been working to strengthen commercial ties with the region. In April, she delivered remarks at the John Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), outlining the Administration’s focus on strengthening the U.S.-Asia economic relationship. There, she also announced ITA’s plans to expand its presence in fast-growing markets in Asia and Africa and to open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma. Then last month, Secretary Pritzker led a commercial diplomacy mission to Vietnam, the Philippines and Burma in conjunction with a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, underscoring U.S. government support for high-level private sector engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. This week’s trip to China builds on these efforts to promote U.S. businesses and strengthen economic ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Strategic Benefits of Reshoring at Inaugural SelectUSA Summer Forum

Secretary Pritzker speaks at the SelectUSA Summer Forum

Today, Secretary Pritzker co-hosted the first ever SelectUSA Summer Forum with U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (VA-10) at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Over 200 business leaders across a multitude of industries attended the Summer Forum to discuss how bringing manufacturing and other services back to the United States – a process called “reshoring” – makes practical and economic sense.

At the SelectUSA Summer Forum, Secretary Pritzker remarked that America’s greatest strengths – its hardworking, diverse, and educated workforce, strong protection of intellectual property rights, predictable and transparent legal system, relatively low taxes, highly developed infrastructure, and access to the world's most lucrative consumer market – have led to a strong trend of reshoring and reinvestment in America. Additionally, Secretary Pritzker praised the Commerce Department’s primary vehicle for attracting job creating investment into the U.S. – SelectUSA – for its achievements in promoting, attracting, retaining, and expanding investment to and within the United States. Attendees also heard from U.S. Representative Frank Wolf, an advocate for exporting and reshoring, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and Jeff Fettig, CEO of the Whirlpool Corporation, who spoke about his company’s experiences moving jobs back to the United States and the resulting creation of jobs in the local economy.

An initiative established in 2011 by President Obama, SelectUSA acts as an advocate for business investment in the United States as well as a single point of contact for investors ready and looking to create jobs and establish production in America. Since its inception just two years ago, SelectUSA has facilitated over $18 billion in new investments for the United States and serviced over 1,000 potential investors this past year alone, bolstering America’s long-standing position as the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment.

Join us for the SelectUSA Summer Forum

On June 17th at the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Announcing the "Reinvesting in America, Creating Jobs at Home" SelectUSA Summer Forum on June 17th at the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium.

From large multinational corporations to family-owned small businesses, U.S. firms are discovering that bringing manufacturing or services back to the United States makes economic sense.

Join us to learn about the latest trends, discover resources to help businesses make the move, and hear directly from companies that have reshored successfully. NOTE: This event is FREE but only registered individuals will be admitted to the event.

See the agenda and sign up today!

Secretary Pritzker Concludes Commercial Diplomacy Trip to ASEAN Region

Today in Rangoon, Myanmar, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded a week-long commercial diplomacy trip, after making stops in Hanoi, Vietnam; Manila, Philippines; and Naypyitaw, Myanmar. All three countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a region that is the United States’ fourth-largest export market and the fifth-largest overall trading partner. The ten dynamic countries that comprise ASEAN have an economy valued at $2.4 trillion.

The economies of Vietnam, the Philippines, and Burma present enormous opportunity for U.S. businesses, which is why a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council joined Secretary Pritzker to further commercial ties as well as strengthen our bilateral relationship in the region.

The Obama Administration has made a deliberate decision to deepen U.S. engagement with Asia, and throughout the week, Secretary Pritzker elaborated on the economic dimension of this commitment, which includes deepening trade and investment ties with existing partners, building the soft and hard infrastructure necessary to support the growth of emerging partners, and taking the steps necessary to level the playing field for commerce across the region.

Secretary Pritzker Affirms U.S. Support for Burmese Political and Economic Reforms

Good discussion on US business investment with Aung San Suu Kyi

As part of her week-long commercial diplomacy mission to Asia this week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met today with supporters of Burma’s transition to democracy and the ongoing national peace process. At a roundtable with Burmese civil society leaders, she took the opportunity to learn more about the complexities of political and economic reform and to hear their concerns and views about future challenges for Burma.

In her remarks at the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker affirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting positive political and economic reforms in Burma. She urged the Burmese government to build on that progress by implementing measures that increase inclusive economic development and promote government transparency and accountability. Noting that a strong and vibrant civil society is critical to institutionalizing reforms and ensuring government accountability, Secretary Pritzker applauded the efforts of Burmese civil society leaders to advance citizen interests in pursuit of democracy.

The Commerce Department takes these issues very seriously. Since 2010, training in human rights, rule of law, and corporate social responsibility has been mandatory for Foreign Commercial Service Officers. Attention to these critical social issues not only strengthens the Department’s culture, but enhances its ability to support American companies as they expand overseas.

Spotlight on Commerce: Phu Huynh, Chief of Staff (Acting), International Trade Administration

Phu Huynh, Chief of Staff (Acting), International Trade Administration

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to the Open for Business Agenda Strategic Plan.

Guest blog post by Phu Huynh, Chief of Staff (Acting), International Trade Administration

I was born in Saigon, five years before the Vietnam War ended. My family made a tough decision, one that benefitted me for a lifetime. My mother, five aunts, one uncle, four sisters and I were airlifted to the U.S. as Saigon fell. When we arrived in Chantilly, Virginia, we had very little.  But, we had each other, the support of a local church and our public school. My mother and aunts taught us about our Vietnamese and Chinese heritages, which fortunately centered around great food. Just as important, they pushed us to learn English and become thoroughly integrated in the American experience. I’ve been given the opportunity in my lifetime to take the best from both worlds—from my Asian heritage and from the rich diversity that is America. The values I extrapolated from both backgrounds are so similar and are shared across the globe—dedication to family, hard work, respect of others and their cultures and faiths.  I’m as likely to watch a Washington Nationals game with either Vietnamese banh mi sandwich or a hot dog.

I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in history, high hopes and no job.  I’d like to tell you that I’m here because I executed each element of my master plan perfectly or that I had good fortune. But, opportunities don’t just happen without context. I applied hard earned skills and landed an internship at the White House. I worked hard to perfect my technical skills, becoming expert on every administration department and agency.  I became a valued member of the team, in large measure, because no one else wanted to do the huge volume of detailed, non-political, technical work.  But I learned something else even more valuable—that leaders in politics are often in short supply, peace and prosperity don’t just happen and that enlightened leadership was more critical than the technical aspects of my work. I was genuinely willing to learn from those I believed were the best leaders, and they were willing to share their experience and wisdom with me. I got hooked on Washington and this inexplicable political world in which we operate.

Secretary Pritzker First-Ever Commerce Secretary to Visit Burma

As the first-ever U.S. Commerce Secretary to visit Burma, Secretary Penny Pritzker today encouraged Burmese leaders to continue making positive political and economic reforms to bolster U.S. private sector interest in the region.

Secretary Pritzker met Burmese President Thein Sein and discussed the ways our two countries can continue working together to improve the U.S.-Burma commercial relationship. Pritzker also met with Vice President Nyan Tun and various Burmese ministers and outlined ways in which the Commerce Department can help Burma increase trade with U.S. firms.  She reassured the Burmese leadership that U.S. businesses want to be part of the solution as countries across the region look to support a growing middle class, develop world-class infrastructure, unleash sustainable energy, and invest in their futures.

U.S. companies have made significant investments in the ASEAN region, which reached nearly $190 billion in 2012. That is more than U.S. investment in all of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) combined. ASEAN investment into the U.S. exceeds $27 billion and investment has grown over 1,400% and has increased 169% since 2001. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates Burma’s GDP growth accelerated to 7.5 percent in 2013, and expects that growth to continue. As the economy in countries like Burma continues to open, there will be expansive opportunities for U.S. companies to export more goods and services, supporting the modernization and development that will improve the quality of life for citizens.

Secretary Pritzker was joined by a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council.  Earlier this week, the delegation visited Vietnam and the Philippines where Secretary Pritzker met with government and business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss the Commerce Department’s priorities for increasing trade and investment in the region.

Secretary Pritzker’s trip to the Asia-Pacific region demonstrates the importance of the region to the Obama Administration and the U.S. business community, and our shared commitment to increasing U.S. commercial activity with countries in the ASEAN region.

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Philippine President Aquino, Trade and Industry Secretary Domingo, and Finance Secretary Purisima

Secretary Pritzker meets with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III

As part of a week-long commercial diplomacy trip to the Asia-Pacific region, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is in the Philippines to demonstrate the Obama administration's ongoing commitment to Asia. Along with members of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) and a delegation of U.S. CEOs, she is visiting the country to strengthen trade and investment and encourage deeper business-to-business ties.

The United States and the Philippines share a $24 billion per year trade relationship, one that was further bolstered by President Obama’s recent trip to the country in April. Today, Secretary Pritzker met with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, and yesterday with Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, to build on that strong U.S.-Philippine relationship.

Secretary Pritzker congratulated President Aquino for his successful leadership and commended both Secretary Domingo and Secretary Purisima on the Philippines’ recent economic accomplishments and reforms, which have resulted in strong growth. In fact, the country has doubled its GDP growth rate from 3.6 percent in 2011 to 7.2 percent in 2013. In addition, Secretary Pritzker noted that the already strong trade relationship between the Philippines and the United States has continued to grow, with U.S. exports to the Philippines increasing over the past year.

During the meetings, Secretary Pritzker reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the country and the ASEAN region and discussed opportunities for U.S. companies to support the Philippines’ infrastructure development needs, including the Clark International Airport. She also talked about outstanding U.S.-Philippine trade issues and steps the country could take to become an even more attractive destination for U.S. investment.

Data Expands the Tourism Industry

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse at Sunset in Acadia National Park.  Photo: Jeremy Stevens (

Every year thousands of visitors flock to the United States to explore the country and experience the culture. The travel and tourism industry has grown exponentially from 55 million international visitors in 2009 to 70 million in 2013.

Understanding the importance of this industry, President Obama recently set a goal to increase the numbers to 100 million visitors annually by the end of 2021. It’s a daunting number that may seem impossible, but state tourism offices all over America are jumping at the opportunity to expand and grow local businesses.

But how can these local businesses and tourism offices figure out the best ways to attract more visitors to their states?

One word: Data

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently released its 2013 report on International Visitation to the United States which outlines international visitor data for the following five categories:

Secretary Pritzker Promotes Entrepreneurship in the Philippines

Secretary Pritzker Promotes Entrepreneurship in the Philippines

Innovation and entrepreneurship are key drivers of economic growth, in the United States and around the world. As part of her commercial diplomacy mission to the Asia-Pacific region this week with leading American CEOs, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in a roundtable with Philippine entrepreneurs to learn more about the business environment in the Philippines and discuss ways that the Obama Administration can support business creation. The roundtable was hosted by Kickstart, a startup incubator, and IdeaSpace, a non-profit that supports technology entrepreneurs.

Two months ago, Secretary Pritzker launched the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, which President Obama announced last fall. PAGE is a partnership between U.S. government and the private sector to inspire business creation in the United States and around the world.  As the inaugural members of PAGE, 11 successful American entrepreneurs committed to traveling the world to provide access to mentorship, education and other opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Today’s roundtable is part of a series of discussions that Secretary Pritzker is holding to learn more about the opportunities for new business creation, as well as the obstacles that entrepreneurs face in different countries.  During the Secretary’s trade mission to the Middle East in March, she sat down with 15 Saudi entrepreneurs in Riyadh and learned about their plans for growth and what they needed to foster an entrepreneurial community. Also, two weeks ago, she visited an incubator where Ghanian entrepreneurs were developing businesses that served customers in the United States and Europe. These forums are an invaluable chance for the Secretary to learn about barriers to things like capital and education.

Secretary Pritzker's trip demonstrates that United States is firmly committed to deepening U.S. engagement with the Asia-Pacific region, and recognizes that there is tremendous opportunity for mutually-beneficial growth in the ASEAN region. By helping to remove barriers to new business creation, the Commerce Department is working to unlock the entrepreneurial spirit that will generate prosperity for both the Philippines and the United States.

Reliable Electricity and Energy Independence: Exporting Game Changing U.S. Developed Solar Energy Storage Technology to West Africa

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Alistair Jessop, Senior Vice President, Development, SolarReserve

Guest blog post by Alistair Jessop, Senior Vice President, Development, SolarReserve

SolarReserve has participated in two extremely well-organized and worthwhile business development trade missions led by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The first mission was in March to the Middle East, focusing on export opportunities for U.S. companies in the infrastructure sector, including renewable energy. Based on the great success of the Middle East mission, the company enthusiastically joined Secretary Pritzker on a second mission – this time the destination was West Africa.

SolarReserve is a leading worldwide developer of utility-scale solar and hybrid power projects which include advanced solar thermal technology. We have more than $1.8 billion of projects in construction and operation, of which $800 million are in Southern Africa. Our aim for the West Africa trade mission was to better understand the renewable energy goals, requirements and timelines of both Ghana and Nigeria with a hope to form relationships with key decision makers and form strong long-term joint venture relationships with local companies.

SolarReserve’s world-leading, US-developed, patented solar thermal technology with integrated molten salt storage has the potential to provide both Ghana and Nigeria a cost-effective, reliable, on-demand, zero emission supply of electricity. This solar thermal technology (which can be delivered either alone or coupled with photovoltaics), can provide a cost effective 24/7 reliable alternative to fossil fuel generation with the enormous benefit of zero emissions.  This technology could make a huge difference in countries across Africa, with regular power cuts affecting both Ghana and Nigeria’s national productivity as well as the lifestyles of those living in these countries. It’s not surprising we find boundless enthusiasm in the region for reliable renewable energy alternatives.

The high calibre of the meetings was incredible, with access to top level government officials and decision makers. One particular high point during the mission in Ghana was meeting John Dramani Mahama, the Ghanaian President, where the group were given the opportunity to ask direct and frank questions - and received clear and fair responses. It was remarkable to have this level of access to the President and a number of the cabinet ministers, and to be able to talk frankly about business opportunities and issues. We left these meetings with confidence in doing business in Ghana.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Leads CEO Mission to Show U.S. Commitment to Asia

The United States is committed to its commercial relationship with Asia. The U.S. economic engagement strategy in the Asia-Pacific region has three key pillars: strengthening partnerships with long-established trading partners, helping develop the “hard” and “soft” infrastructure that moves goods and people, and building and strengthening regional mechanisms that promote a level playing field for all of our businesses. Recognizing that there is tremendous opportunity for mutually-beneficial growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, the Commerce Department is focused on strengthening the trade relationship between the U.S. and ASEAN, and encouraging even deeper business-to-business ties.

As part of these efforts, next week U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will join a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council on a trip to Vietnam, Burma, and the Philippines. These economies present enormous opportunity for U.S. businesses, and the trip is a huge step not only in furthering commercial ties, but also in advancing our overall relationship.

The delegation will stop first in Vietnam, where Secretary Pritzker will meet with government leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss the Commerce Department’s priorities for increasing trade and investment in the region. Vietnam’s economy is experiencing sustained growth following a rapid rate of expansion in the last decade. Energy is one industry sector with a number of opportunities for U.S. businesses in Vietnam. An upcoming reverse trade mission with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will connect U.S. companies with leaders in Smart Grid development and implementation. General Electric is already finding success in the country, signing a $94 million contract to bring 52 wind turbines to the Mekong Delta. This deal will support 245 U.S. jobs, and was supported by the International Trade Administration’s Advocacy Center

From Vietnam, the delegation will head to the Philippines, where Secretary Pritzker will deliver remarks on America’s economic engagement in the Asia Pacific region, as well as meet with government and business leaders. The economy in the Philippines has shown much resilience despite tragic natural disasters and volatile financial markets. Economic growth has been consistent during the last two years and is projected to remain so through 2016. Reconstruction efforts could lead to acceleration in the economy and present business opportunities for American companies with experience in sectors like construction and infrastructure.

The trip will wrap up with a final stop in Burma, where Secretary Pritzker will affirm the United States’ support for positive political and economic reforms in meetings with civil society leaders, government officials, and the Burmese business community. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates Burma’s GDP growth accelerated to 7.5 percent in 2013, and expects that growth to continue. Business confidence also is improving, as reflected in a rapid increase in new business registrations – both domestic and foreign-owned. As the country develops, it is well positioned to leverage modern technology available from U.S. firms. U.S. exports to Burma have ranged from electrical machinery, optical and medical equipment, vehicles, and other machinery. As the economy continues to open in Burma, there will be expansive opportunities for U.S. companies to export more goods and services, supporting the modernization and development that will improve the quality of life for Burmese citizens.

Recognizing Those Supporting American Exports

Icelantic Skis was one of 65 companies and organizations recognized by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker with a President’s E Award for supporting U.S. exports.

Guest blog post by Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Ken Hyatt.

Cross posted from ITA's Tradeology blog.

We at the Department of Commerce produce a lot of numbers, but we always try to see behind the export numbers into what they create – jobs, growth, and development.

It was easy to see behind the numbers today, as I joined Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to recognize and congratulate 65 companies and organizations that have supported the expansion of U.S. exports.

These companies and organizations earned the 2014 President’s E Awards, the highest honor bestowed upon those that are committed to expanding the U.S. economy through exports.

The awardees include an assortment of small and medium-sized businesses in a variety of states and business sectors. From Kansas-based Pioneer Balloon Company to California-based Robinson Pharma, both of which have expanded their exports with support from U.S. government agencies including the Department of Commerce.

Secretary Pritzker Highlights General Electric Investment in the Nigerian Community

Secretary Pritzker joins Jay Ireland, GE Africa President and CEO, after a roundtable discussion with representatives from General Electric (GE) Healthcare and the Government of Nigeria

While in Nigeria, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from General Electric (GE) Healthcare and the Government of Nigeria where she heard about what opportunities existed for U.S. companies to provide solutions to Nigeria’s health care issues, specifically in the areas of infant and maternal care. Before beginning the roundtable discussion, Secretary Pritzker was escorted by GE executives through a “Continuum of Care” walk through display which highlighted the many solutions GE is using to improve maternal and newborn health in the region.

After the walk-through, Secretary Pritzker sat down for a roundtable discussion where she heard more about the formation and the recently signed Healthymagination Mother & Child initiative. This first-of-its-kind, 5-year initiative, signed by GE, Nigeria’s Ministry of Health and USAID, will focus on increasing capacity in the primary health care system and providing affordable financing options to support the reduction of preventable child-maternal mortality in Nigeria. Specifically, the imitative is focused on bringing more mobile and alternative powered health technology to the region along with robust training and education programs for nurses and midwives to help reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. Both of which will help Nigeria meet its Millennium Development goals.

During the trade mission, Secretary Pritzker highlighted that U.S. businesses want to be in Africa. She discussed how American companies not only invest time and resources in countries like Nigeria, but they also make investments in the communities in which they operate as well.

GE is an example of one such company that has not only been investing in infrastructure and power projects in Nigeria, but has also been actively involved in ways to improve healthcare outcomes and efficiency, including maternal and infant Nigeria. both through its corporate social responsibilities platform as well as furthering its commercial interests. .

Secretary Pritzker Tours Entrepreneur School of Technology and Meets Ghanaian Entrepreneurs

Secretary Pritkzer Tours Entrepreneur School of Technology and Meets Ghanaian Entrepreneurs

After meeting with Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu and Minister of Finance Seth Terkper, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker stopped by the Meltwater Entrepreneur School of Technology (MEST) to tour its facilities, interact with several of the resident start-ups, and gain more insight into the Ghanaian entrepreneurial culture. 

Established in 2009 and based in Ghana's capital city of Accra, MEST and its Incubator program provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs. Its goal is to create globally successful companies that spur prosperity and jobs locally in Africa. MEST offers aspiring African entrepreneurs a fully-sponsored, two year intensive program to learn the skills necessary to build successful tech businesses, including computer programming, software development, product management, finance, marketing, sales and leadership best practices. 
The Department of Commerce supports entrepreneurship through its "Open for Business Agenda," a set of strategic priorities focused on data, innovation, and trade and investment. As the primary voice of business in the Administration, the Department produces policies and initiatives that help in the establishment and success of new start-ups as well as the growth and competitiveness of existing businesses.
In April, President Obama and Secretary Pritzker announced the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative. PAGE - which is chaired by Secretary Pritzker -  is comprised of 11 well-known, successful American business leaders who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.

Secretary Pritzker Kicks Off Second Day of West Africa Energy Business Development Mission and Visits Electric Company of Ghana

Secretary Pritzker Visits Electric Company of Ghana

Today, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker kicked off her second day in Ghana at the Electric Company of Ghana (ECG) as part of the Commerce Department’s West Africa Energy Business Development Mission.  During the site visit, she spoke about the strong relationship between Ghana and the United States and the importance of partnering with private sector businesses to help Ghana reach its energy potential.

During the site visit, Secretary Pritzker specifically addressed the importance of the Administration’s Power Africa initiative and reiterated the U.S. commitment to improving economic prosperity in West Africa through investment in the energy sector.

President Obama announced Power Africa last year as an initiative to double the number of people with access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa.  With more than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to reliable electricity, the power development challenge is enormous. More than two-thirds of the population is without electricity, including more than 85 percent of those living in rural areas. According to the International Energy Agency, sub-Saharan Africa needs more than $300 billion in investments to achieve universal electricity access by 2030 – far beyond the capacity of any traditional development program.  As part of Power Africa, the United States will commit more than $7 billion in financial support over the next five years to this effort.

The trade mission, Secretary Pritzker’s third since taking office last summer, will promote U.S. exports to Africa by helping U.S. companies’ launch or increase their business in the energy sector in West Africa.  The firms joining the mission have the expertise to help African countries develop and manage energy resources and systems, as well as build out power generation, transmission, and distribution.

Africa is home to seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, and helping U.S. business expand their presence in these African markets is a top priority for the Department of Commerce and the Administration. 

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Trade and Investment with Ghanaian President Mahama and Other Officials

President Mahama greets Secretary Pritzker on her first official visit to Ghana

Building on a strong bilateral relationship with Ghana, the United States is committed to partnering with the country as a beacon of stability and democracy in West Africa.

As part of that partnership, the United States is working to increase trade and investment, cornerstones of the Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa that President Obama announced in June 2012. On her trade mission to West Africa this week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is talking with Ghanaian leaders about the many opportunities available for U.S. businesses to partner with Ghana to help meet their energy development objectives.

This morning, Secretary Pritzker met with Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu. She discussed policies that would facilitate U.S. companies’ participation in developing Ghana’s energy sector and helping the country meet its goal of generating 5,000 megawatts of power by 2016.  Secretary Pritzker pointed out that the United States’ Power Africa initiative to double access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa aligns with Ghana’s broad goals to increase power generation capacity in the near term.

Secretary Pritzker also met with Minister of Finance Seth Terkper and discussed some of the challenges facing the business community in the current fiscal climate. Noting that the strong trade relationship between Ghana and the United States continues to grow, Secretary Pritzker highlighted some of the Commerce Department’s initiatives focused on expanding U.S.-Ghana trade. This week’s trade mission is an opportunity to build upon our two country’s strong trade relationship by facilitating introductions of U.S. companies eager to learn about the energy needs of Ghana.

Finally, in the afternoon, Secretary Pritzker met with Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama and discussed the strategic importance of strong U.S.-Ghanaian economic and commerce relations. Secretary Pritzker highlighted that U.S. companies have a lot to offer in terms of management and technical expertise, and capital that might prove to be very useful for Ghana. 

Secretary Pritzker and President Mahama briefly discussed the upcoming World Cup and the United States’ opening round match-up against Ghana. 

Acorn Energy, Inc., Joins Commerce Department Sponsored Trade Mission Because of Enormous Potential in West African Energy Market

Acorn Energy, Inc., Joins Commerce Department Sponsored Trade Mission Because of Enormous Potential in West African Energy Market

Guest post by Walter Czarnecki, President and COO of OmniMetrix, an Acorn Energy division.

On behalf of Acorn Energy, Inc., I am honored and excited to join US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on her upcoming West Africa Energy Business Development Trade Mission to Ghana and Nigeria. Acorn Energy is an energy technology investment group and holding company focused on M2M/Internet of Things remote monitoring technologies and includes four divisions: OmniMetrix, GridSense, DSIT and US Seismic Systems. Our technologies are deployed globally, including sites in Kenya, South Africa, Turkey and elsewhere, and we see West Africa as an important international market in which to expand and serve.

We have been following the vast potential for market growth in Ghana and Nigeria for each Acorn technology. Last month Nigeria surpassed South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy, yet Nigeria experiences near-daily blackouts and plans to invest $3.5 billion this year to improve its energy and electricity infrastructure. Likewise, grid failures are common and have persisted for decades. GridSense, our transformer and distribution network monitoring division, works with utilities globally to specifically address this problem, and we look forward to exploring how GridSense can help West African utilities make their networks more reliable.

When utility power is lost, backup generators come online, and Nigeria has nearly 60 million backup generators. OmniMetrix, the Acorn division that provides M2M remote monitoring and control for backup generators, is well positioned to increase the reliability and reduce failures across Nigeria’s backup generator fleet. Backup generators globally fail 10-15% of the time when called upon. It is now possible to diagnose and predict common problems that prevent backup generators from running when needed. We look forward to exploring how we can eliminate this problem in Ghana and Nigeria.

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.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Next Phase of the National Export Initiative -- NEI/NEXT

Today, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced NEI/NEXT – a data-based, customer service-driven initiative to ensure that more American businesses can fully capitalize on markets that are opening up around the world. Through five core objectives, NEI/NEXT will build on Administration-wide achievements under the National Export Initiative (NEI), to help all businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.

If you missed her speech, below is a collection of tweets from her account and audience members that summarizes her remarks.

May is World Trade Month 2014

Guest blog post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Happy World Trade Month!

For years, May has been the time to not only recognize the benefits of international trade, but also for organizations around the country to support more American companies competing overseas.

For the United States, the benefits of trade have been great, as have our successes. We recently announced that for the fourth straight year, the United States set a record for annual exports in 2013, at $2.3 trillion. That is a 40 percent growth in total exports since 2009.

Behind those exports are millions of well-paying American jobs – a record 11.3 million jobs to be exact. That number is an increase of 1.6 million from 2009.

As more American businesses compete and succeed in the global marketplace, the entire national economy reaps benefit.

New Expansion to Support New Opportunities

Guest blog post by Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Last week, Commerce Secretary Pritzker made an important announcement that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting developing economies and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to U.S. businesses competing overseas.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will open offices in five new markets, bringing Foreign Commercial Service (CS) officers into some of the world's most rapidly developing economies. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department, we will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burma this calendar year.

These new offices, and our staff additions in other offices around the world, will make us more capable of supporting U.S. exporters. We can support more Gold Key Matchmaking, we can conduct more market research, and we can help connect U.S. companies to more global markets.

As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I'm very excited to be a part of this major expansion - especially in such important markets for U.S. businesses.

Driving German FDI – the U.S. as a Manufacturing & Distribution Hub, and an Export Platform

Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) stock totaled $2.7 trillion in 2012, a 6 percent increase from the prior year, which equals the average annual growth rate between 2001-2011.

Guest blog post by Amy Zecha, International Investment Specialist with SelectUSA. Her portfolio covers Central and Eastern Europe, including Germany. 

SelectUSA just finished another successful event at the Hannover Messe manufacturing trade fair – the largest in the world – and now we’re gearing up for another big event in Germany.  In September, we’ll be participating in Automechanika, a global trade show for the automotive industry.  We hope you’ll join us!

It’s been a great couple of months for German investment in the United States, and we’ve had some exciting news in the auto industry.  In a post last month, ITA’s Tradeology blog highlighted some impressive figures – including the 115% growth in U.S. auto exports of passenger vehicles between 2009 and 2013.

It is therefore no surprise to see international automakers – such as Germany’s BMW – continue to grow their U.S. manufacturing operations. At the end of March, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined BMW officials and others in Spartanburg, SC in celebrating the start of production of the X4 – and the announcement of the brand new X7. The addition of this model line will make Spartanburg BMW’s largest manufacturing facility in the world.

BMW, as a business, knows the value of manufacturing in the United States, and also the advantages of using the U.S. as an export platform. Today, BMW is one of the top auto exporters in the United States. More than half of all the cars produced by BMW at their Spartanburg plant are shipped to other markets beyond our borders. BMW has clearly harnessed the power of U.S. manufacturing and successfully coupled it with the export opportunities offered by U.S. trade agreements to maximize the potential of their U.S. operations.

This is just one case study of German success in the U.S. market. Success comes in many sizes - sometimes it's the small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) that makes the commitment to the United States, like PTF Pfuller, a manufacturer of precision parts and assemblies for the semiconductor, food, medical technology, laser and aerospace industries. The CEO, Mr. Oliver Zintl spent two years working with Jenny Trick of Racine County Economic Development Corporation, after an initial meeting at the USA Investment Center organized by SelectUSA and CS Germany at Hannover Messe 2011. PTF established its U.S. division in Sturtevant, Wisconsin in August 2013 with initial plans to start with a small sales staff – but then noted the potential to add manufacturing and a distribution center within five years, creating at least 50 jobs. PTF cited the tremendous work of Racine County and Milwaukee 7 (a regional economic development organization), as well as the central location, access to existing customers in the region, and the quality of the Gateway Technical College – which offers the potential for a nearby source of talent for the company.

Secretary Pritzker Delivers Remarks on America’s Economic Future in the Asia-Pacific

In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed the United States’ commitment to strengthening commercial and economic ties throughout the Asia-Pacific, which is a critical dimension of the president’s rebalance toward this fast-growing region. The Asia-Pacific region presents rapidly growing opportunities for American businesses and workers. The region accounts for nearly 60 percent of world GDP and 40 percent of global trade. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the United States’ leadership role in efforts such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, and she also emphasized the growing U.S. ties with both longstanding and emerging trade partners.

Read a summary of her remarks and audience tweets below.

First Americas Competitiveness Exchange Encourages Collaboration, Drives Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Western Hemisphere

Guest Blog Post by Walter Bastian, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for The Western Hemisphere

Competition and collaboration aren’t typically mentioned in the same breath. For nations and businesses competing to innovate and prosper in a global marketplace, these concepts seem completely antithetical to one another.

That’s why the first Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Exchange) is such a unique and exciting partnership.

As part of the Exchange, senior officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) last week led a delegation of 45 business and government leaders from 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries on a tour across the Southeast United States. They visited five cities in four days with stops in Atlanta, Ga., Greenville, S.C., Conover, Kannapolis, and Charlotte, N.C.

The delegation toured technology centers, innovation hubs, and investment zones to see how U.S. companies are working to create some of the most advanced products in the world. The tour was geared to help make the interpersonal and inter-governmental connections that can lead to future international trade and investment deals.

The Americas Competitiveness Exchange for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provided a great opportunity for decision and policy makers in the Americas to see the results of economic development initiatives and meet high level authorities, leaders of private sector associations, public and private universities with research and innovation centers, looking to explore and expand the links between our economies and key stakeholders.

The United States and Latin America maintain a very special and very important investment relationship. In 2012, the total stock of Latin American foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States was nearly $96 billion. And every day, 259,000 workers in the United States go to work in U.S. subsidiaries of Latin American firms. 

Join the Conversation on Investment

Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

Guest blog post by Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

This month, SelectUSA is really upping our game when it comes to online engagement around investment.  We hope you’ll join the conversation on Twitter at #SelectUSA!

Our colleagues across the Commerce Department will be sharing their thoughts on how innovation, data and hard work contribute to job creation. We’re collaborating with our friends at the State Department’s Economic & Business Affairs Bureau, as well as with our Commerce and State colleagues throughout the United States and globally at our embassies and consulates. 

But we’re not stopping with Commerce and State. We’re reaching out across the U.S. federal government through the Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), to more than twenty other agencies.  (You can find all of our Commerce and IIWG twitter profiles here.)

This is a big conversation, but most importantly, we hope to be hearing from YOU.

We’re broadening the conversation at #SelectUSA to talk about how investment in the United States drives job creation and how we can work together to attract even more jobs.

Did you know that, as of 2011 (the most recent data available), U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies employed more than 5.6 million workers and paid an average annual salary of $77,600?  According to preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows totaled $187.5 billion in 2013, rising from $160.1 billion in 2012.  The United States also recently took back the top spot in A.T. Kearney’s FDI Confidence Index.

What do these numbers mean to you?  Are you an investor looking to expand your operations in the United States?  Are you seeking to attract more investment to your town, city, county or state?  How can SelectUSA assist you?  

Big Data is Big Business for Commerce

Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms (center) along with Erie Meyer, Joel Gurin, Waldo Jaquith, and Daniel Castro at the Center for Data Innovation hosted “The Economic Benefits of Open Data” event

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Big Data and Open Data are all the rage these days. However, Commerce was into Big Data before Big Data was cool. As far back as 1790, we began collecting data on patents in the U.S. and the Census Bureau conducted the first Decennial Census the same year. In 1870, the National Weather Service was created – which today is one of the biggest data producing agencies around.

Back then, our economy was based largely on agriculture. Over the years, our economy evolved through the industrial revolution, later giving rise to the strong service sector. Today, we are at the nascent stages of the next era in our economic growth, the information age. On a daily basis, there is an ever-increasing amount of data becoming available, and the demand for data is increasing exponentially. We have before us both great opportunity and fascinating challenges to understand how best to harness this national resource. This is a key focus of Commerce’s Open for Business Agenda.

You may not know it, but the Department of Commerce is home to many agencies that are your primary source for data that you likely use every day.

For example:

  • How many people live in the U.S. or in your hometown? You might know the Census Bureau is the authority on population, but did you know the Census Bureau’s data goes well beyond just population? Census also produces huge volumes of data on our economy, demographics, and fascinatingly insightful data describing our communities – or, if you are a business, your customers.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis is a little know agency that produces key economic data and many of the closely watched economic indicators that move markets, drive investment decisions and guide economic policy. Do you know which industries are the leading sources of income in your community, or to your customers? BEA data can tell you.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is your primary source for weather, ocean and climate data – they are collecting data every minute of every day from land, sea, and even spaced-based sensors. When you hear the local forecast or hear about severe weather warning, that is NOAA data informing you about your environment in real time.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, locally known as NIST, is our nation’s authority on broad swaths of scientific, cyber, and physical data – including, officially, what time it is.
  • We also have data on patents going back more than 200 years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is a gold mine of inspiration for innovation.
  • Other agencies in Commerce provide data on economic development, minority businesses, trade, and telecommunications and the Internet.

On any given day, the Department will generate in excess of 20 terabytes of data, and sometimes much more. Yet, we think we can do more with this resource. We want to take every step we can to open access to it to the entrepreneurs and innovators of America, as we are pretty convinced that there is huge unmet value and potential. We understand that a huge part of the value of data is when it is not seen alone, but as part of a rich tapestry of information. We believe that there is great opportunity to solve problems, innovate new businesses, and improve data-driven decision-making, and we are committed to that path.

That is why I was so glad to be a part of today’s launch of the Open Data 500 Project, housed out of the GovLab at NYU. This exciting project has verified what we were certain must be true: That hundreds of American companies are using Commerce data every day to innovate and deliver important goods and services to their customers.

Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

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.

Guest blog post by Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

Serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, my job is to improve the domestic and international competitiveness of the broad product range of U.S. textiles, footwear, consumer goods, metals and mining, forest products, and chemicals and plastics manufacturing sectors and industries. This position requires strong negotiation and problem-solving skills and the ability to work with a broad array of stakeholders with divergent opinions in order to find solutions on a whole host of issues. 

Over the last 3 years, I have spent significant time at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to ensure opportunities under the agreement for U.S. textile and footwear producers.  I coordinate within the ITA and across agencies to ensure we can deliver results for companies and the workers they employ.  While the job has been challenging, it has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity.  I have worked with top-notch staff across the Department and in the Administration who are driven to expanding opportunities for U.S. industries and workers.

Having worked in two Administrations and on Capitol Hill, I have always been driven by a mission to serve the American people and have been fortunate to do so throughout my career.  Growing up, my parents, extended family, teachers, and mentors were incredibly supportive of me and instilled in me to work hard, serve others, and have a strong sense of self. I grew up in the close-knit community of Lockport, NY located near Buffalo during a time when many industries in the area were facing enormous economic hardships.  Layoffs all too often were the front page news of the local paper.  My high school experience reflected what was happening in the community – and I knew that I wanted to make it better.

Views of the Trade Mission: A Learning Experience and Wealth of Opportunity

Kurt Bergman, Chief Executive Officer, Michael Baker International

Guest blog post by Kurt Bergman, Chief Executive Officer, Michael Baker International

As the CEO of Michael Baker International, I was honored when we were selected to accompany U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on an infrastructure related trade mission to the UAE, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After eight whirlwind days, I look back and reflect on what I learned and felt about the trip and the wealth of opportunity in our future: 

  1. The Middle East continues to be one of the most exciting infrastructure markets on the planet, with well thought, visionary initiatives across the infrastructure spectrum of water, power, surface transportation, aviation and others as well as developments of incredible forethought about the environment, including how we will live and work in the future.
  2. The U.S. and Middle East relations continue to be strong and there is a distinct desire for American companies to participate in this market.
  3. As a global company, the U.S. Embassy Commercial office staff are an incredible asset to assist you.
  4. No matter how long you have worked in the global market, there is always something new to learn.

As we traveled from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Riyadh and Doha, I was in awe of the size, scope and magnitude of the projects that were being conceived, planned, designed and constructed. The projects we were briefed on included the Qatari Supreme Council for Legacy's FIFA World Cup 2022 program investing over $100 Billion USD to create a fan experience based on sustainability, access and enjoyment with an eye to the future. Another program was the Saudi Arabian metro initiatives in Riyadh and Jeddah where 100 of kilometers of innovative, futuristic public light rail valued at over $50 Billion USD are being installed with a four year completion goal. The Emirati Al Satiyya island development was a wonder to contemplate with over 148 square kilometers of environmentally sensitive towns centered around a world class school, entertainment and culture containing three museums being designed by different work class Pritzker prize winning architects. Nowhere else in the world is there such a desire and drive across an entire region for sustainability, cultural and environmental stewardship and quality. Michael Baker International is excited to continue our  legacy of support in the region that goes back to the 1950s and our support to the Saudi Royal Family and to supporting the U.S. State and Defense missions throughout the region today.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Tours Solar Park in Dubai

Secretary Pritzker speaks to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce

On Monday in Dubai, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker toured the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park by helicopter, getting a firsthand look at how cooperation between the U.S. and Dubai can lead to tremendous opportunities for businesses in both countries.

The solar park was built by First Solar, a company based in Tempe, Arizona that is currently accompanying Secretary Pritzker as part of her trade mission to the Middle East. Completed in October of 2013, the solar park is a 13 megawatt power plant and the largest solar facility of its kind in the Middle East.This solar park proves U.S. businesses can serve as strong business partners to the Gulf region as UAE invests in its infrastructure and transportation systems.

After the tour, Secretary Pritzker and the business delegation met with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority  (DEWA) project specialists and DEWA CEO Al Tayer to further discuss DEWA’s investments in water, electricity and renewable energy projects, all of which offer additional opportunities for American companies to serve as partners.

In addition to her tour of the solar park, Secretary Pritzker held several meetings on Monday to support U.S. companies as they explore business opportunities in Dubai’s infrastructure expansion. She met with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) officials and World Expo 2020 committee members to congratulate Dubai on winning the World Expo 2020 bid and to offer the Commerce Department’s support in preparation for the Expo. Held every five years, the World Expo attracts millions of visitors to the six-month long exhibition of trade, innovation and products from around the world. Dubai Expo 2020 will focus on sustainability, mobility, and opportunity, and will be a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.    

Department of Commerce releases FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

Plan priorities are in direct alignment with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda”

Today the Department of Commerce released its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2014 to 2018. The five-year plan, along with the recently released FY15 budget, provides the pathway for meeting the Department’s long-term goals and objectives. The plan, summarizes the key strategies and initiatives that will drive progress in the Department’s five priority areas:

  • Trade and Investment. Expanding the U.S. economy through increased exports and foreign direct investment that leads to more and better American jobs.
  • Innovation. Fostering a more innovative U.S. economy—one that is better at inventing, improving, and commercializing products and technologies that lead to higher productivity and  competitiveness.
  • Data. Improve government, business, and community decisions and knowledge by transforming Department data capabilities and supporting a data-enabled economy.
  • Environment. Ensuring communities and businesses have the necessary information, products, and services to prepare for and prosper in a changing environment.
  • Operational Excellence. Delivering better services, solutions, and outcomes that benefit the American people.

The creation of the strategic plan was a collaborative effort involving staff from every Department of Commerce bureau and serves as a foundation for economic growth and opportunity. The plan is in direct alignment with the  “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, and the Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. Department leaders and employees will use this plan to transform strategies into actions, and actions into results.

Read a summary of the plan or the entire plan.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Begins Trade Mission to Middle East

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker leaves today for the Middle East for her second trade mission. She will lead 21 U.S. companies on the trade mission, which is focused on export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the infrastructure sector.  This trade mission will mark the first time in 15 years a U.S. Commerce Secretary has taken a trade mission to the Persian Gulf.  The delegation will make three stops over the next week including the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

In addition to export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the infrastructure sector, this trade mission will focus on areas such as project management and engineering (including construction, architecture and design), renewable energy (solar, wind, and waste-to-energy), smart grid and energy efficiency, and environmental technologies (including water/wastewater, air pollution control, and waste management). Each of these areas is critically important to growing and expanding U.S. business opportunities in the region.

Last week, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks to the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, and the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council where she discussed the decades-long security and commercial relationship between the United States and the Middle East and the growing opportunities for expanding business in the region. She stressed the importance of this trade mission as a demonstration of the United States’ commitment to a sustained economic partnership in the Gulf region.

Secretary Pritzker recently returned from her first trade mission to Mexico which provided 17 U.S. companies with opportunities to establish relationships and promote their technologies and services in Mexico’s advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, health IT and medical device sectors. The mission also allowed Secretary Pritzker to focus on a key pillar of the Department's "Open for Business" agenda, helping U.S. businesses export goods and services and expanding investment opportunities in the U.S.

Van Nuys-Based Louroe Electronics Travels with U.S. Secretary of Commerce to Mexico for First Trade Mission

Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics

Guest blog post by Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics

I remember getting the call from U.S. Department of Commerce extending an invite to my company, Louroe Electronics, to accompany Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on her first-ever trade mission to Mexico. I was truly humbled and enthusiastic about this unique opportunity.

I’ve served as the CEO of Van Nuys-based Louroe Electronics, the world leader in audio monitoring technology, for more than 5 years now and was thrilled to receive the call. I was beyond excited to learn that Louroe was handpicked by the Department of Commerce - the only Southern California and sole security company- along with 16 other export-ready companies, to be a part of The Secretary’s historic trade mission. The mission specifically focused on promoting U.S. exports in key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and security products.

From February 3-7, I personally traveled with Secretary Pritzker to Mexico City and Monterrey alongside other leading companies including: IBM Corporation, Motorola Solutions, Inc., Oracle Corporation, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, and Deloitte Consulting LLP.  Our mutual goal was to promote U.S exports. This trade mission helped facilitate introductions to key government and private sector decision makers in Mexico who shared with us key initiatives and how US companies can assist with development and growth.

As a result of my participation in the trade mission, I was able to successfully identify five new pilot projects for Louroe that will focus on improving public safety throughout Mexico City and Monterrey. This is great news not only for Louroe but also for the Los Angeles economy as the pilot programs will require us to increase our current staffing by approximately 10 percent, ultimately creating more jobs.

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.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Tours Research and Technology Park In Monterrey, Mexico

Secretary Pritzker is joined by Secretary of Economic Development Rolando Zubiran and Institute for Innovation and Technology CEO Jaime Parada at  Monterrey’s Research and Technology Park

Yesterday, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker toured Monterrey’s Research and Technology Park (Parque de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica; PIIT in Spanish), a project that seeks to build competitiveness in the state of Nuevo Leon and northern Mexico by leading the transformation into an innovation and knowledge-based economy. 

PIIT is based on a model that aligns the government, universities, and the private sector to achieve economic growth through innovation. To that end, the PIIT serves both as a R&D Center and incubator, focusing on 10 industry clusters considered strategic by the state of Nuevo Leon – including IT and software, medical services, biotechnology, automotive and auto parts and advanced manufacturing among others.

Accompanied by Secretary of Economic Development Rolando Zubiran and Institute for Innovation and Technology CEO Jaime Parada, Secretary Pritzker praised PIIT and its staff for encouraging public and private partnerships and spurring innovation in Mexico.

Innovation is a major pillar of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” and Secretary Pritzker saw how Monterrey utilizes R&D dollars and cutting-edge sites such as PIIT to  create dynamic clusters that accelerate economic growth and international competitiveness.

In fact, PIIT also includes university and public research centers, private research centers and incubators. Specific entities at PIIT include the University of Texas’ Global Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as PepsiCo, General Electric and Motorola – each maintaining a facility in collaboration with a Mexican partner.

Another Year, Another Export Record

Editor's note:  This has been cross-posted from Tradeology, the Official Blog of the Internatational Trade Administration

Guest Blog Post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and Mark Doms, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

Four years ago, President Obama made export promotion a national priority, launching the National Export Initiative to renew and revitalize American exports.

That initiative is working.  Today, the Department of Commerce announced that for the fourth year in a row, the United States has set a record for annual exports. Total U.S. exports for 2013 reached $2.3 trillion.

There were record highs in both goods and services exports. Goods exports totaled 1.58 trillion, with records in a number of important sectors, including industrial supplies, consumer goods, and capital goods.

Service exports hit an all-time high of $682 billion, with records in several major service sectors. Travel and tourism was one record sector, as international visitors contributed $139 billion to the American economy.

Mexico was a particularly bright spot for U.S. exporters, as we saw a 4.7 percent increase to $226 billion in exports to our southern neighbor. Commerce Secretary Pritzker is currently leading a business development mission in Mexico, helping even more American companies find new opportunities and qualified business partners in one of our most important export markets.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Secretary Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

As part of her first trade mission, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke at a breakfast event focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and overall growth in the U.S.-Mexico commercial and economic relationship.  The event was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Mexico-United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC).  She was joined by Enrique Jacob Rocha, President of the Mexican National Entrepreneurship Institute (INADEM).

MUSEIC builds on the long history of U.S.-Mexico economic cooperation.  Founded shortly after President Obama’s visit to Mexico in May 2013, MUSEIC brings together stakeholders from both countries to strengthen regional economic competitiveness and support entrepreneurship. In 2013, MUSEIC sponsored a number of entrepreneurship-related activities, including an angel investment conference, a startup boot camp for young Mexican entrepreneurs, and an international forum on women’s entrepreneurship.

In her remarks, Secretary Pritkzer discussed the Commerce Department’s involvement in MUSEIC. For example, the Department is helping to map out the commercial and educational assets in the border regions of Tijuana-San Diego and Monterrey-Texas.  Also, in April, the Commerce Department will host government, business, and university leaders from Mexico and other countries to tour research, innovation, and entrepreneurship hubs in the Southern United States.  The event will spotlight public-private partnerships that accelerate new technologies, attract foreign direct investment, and more. Secretary Pritzker also announced that the next MUSEIC meeting will take place in April in San Antonio, Texas.

As the Chair of the President’s Committee on Global Entrepreneurship (PCGE), Secretary Pritzker is committed to working with leaders from around the world to help create an economic environment that encourages entrepreneurship in North America and around the world.  She said, "The United States and Mexico can set the stage for entrepreneurs on both sides of the border to come together, make breakthroughs, launch new firms, and strengthen our economic competitiveness."

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Begins First Official Trade Mission in Mexico

International Trade Between U.S. and Mexico. Trade in goods is eight times 1990 levels.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker officially began her five-day trade mission to Mexico today, starting the trip in Mexico City. She is joined by representatives from 17 U.S. companies looking to expand partnerships and develop effective strategies for accessing and doing business in the Mexican market.

The focus of this trade mission is to promote U.S. exports to Mexico by helping export-ready U.S. companies launch or increase their business in a number of key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and health IT and medical devices. The companies joining the Secretary address the demand of these growing industries in Mexico.

“The 17 companies who have joined me on this important mission represent the best of American business. These outstanding and innovative companies understand that selling American products overseas is a crucial component to growing and creating jobs,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said.  “I am delighted we can help these companies expand their presence in Mexico through this business development mission.”

The U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship is among the United States’ closest and most extensive in the world and one of the reasons it was selected by Secretary Pritzker as the destination for her first trade mission. Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, and approximately $1.3 billion of merchandise trade and one million people cross the 2,000 mile shared border daily. In addition, deeply integrated supply chains in North America and an established free trade agreement make it easy for Mexico and the U.S. to do business with one another.

America is Open for Investment

SelectUSA logo

Guest post by Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA, International Trade Administration

In 2011, President Obama launched SelectUSA, the first-ever U.S. government-wide initiative to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States, with the hopes that the Department of Commerce would help facilitate both foreign and domestic business relationships and make FDI a diplomatic and foreign policy priority.

We took an enormous step forward three months ago, when the Commerce Department hosted the first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC. The summit was such a success that it sold out, and more than 1,300 business and government leaders from nearly 60 countries and economic development organizations from 48 states, the District of Columbia and three territories gathered to learn about the advantages of doing business in the United States and to explore investment opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, the Summit helped match potential investors with economic development organizations to help revitalize American communities and create new job opportunities.

Thankfully, we can continue to build upon the success of the Summit, now that the budget deal has been approved.  The agreement will allow up to $7 million to expand and enhance the program, and we at the Commerce Department are pleased to have this extra support to bring more companies to our shores.

In fact, the U.S. has welcomed investment to our shores for centuries. Our market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors. Today, the United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, and in 2012 alone, more than $160 billion dollars of FDI flowed here. Total foreign stock and assets are measured not in billions, but in the trillions of dollars. Clearly, FDI is an important contributor to our economy.

Looking South for Your Next Business Opportunities

Look South logo

Guest blog post by Michael Masserman, Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

This week Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the Look South Initiative, a movement to help American businesses leverage the Free Trade Agreements the United States shares with 11 countries in Latin America.

The Initiative is an important new part of the Commerce Department’s Open for Business Agenda, supporting American companies looking to increase their global presence.

More and more businesses are exporting, which is leading to record levels of exports for the country. That supports the U.S. economy, and it helps create jobs here at home.

However, most companies that currently export are only taking advantage of one market. Companies exporting to one market average roughly $375,000 in export sales. For a company exporting to two-to-four export markets, that average nearly triples to $1 million in sales. It's clear that exporting to additional markets improves a business's bottom line.

For businesses looking to expand their export markets, "Looking South" is a simple way to start. More than half of our free trade agreements are in Latin America, which generally equates to greater easer in entering those markets. Tariffs are low if they exist at all, which can mean a lower cost of doing business. 

Big Turnout in NYC Puts Spotlight on Exporting Anniversary

Image of mayor's proclamation

Cross-post, ITA's blog Tradeology by Curt Cultice, Senior Communications Specialist

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City was the setting on a wintery Monday, December 16, as more than 250 businesspeople and other participants turned out for the 100th anniversary celebration of the opening of the New York U.S. Export Assistance Center. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also proclaimed December 16 as “NY U.S. Export Assistance Center Day,” further recognizing the impressive milestone.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke keynoted the event, saying, “New York businesses recognized 100 years ago what we know holds true today: The world is full of consumers who highly value U.S.-made products.”

Last year, the New York City metro area exported $102.3 billion in merchandise exports to world markets, making it the 2nd largest metropolitan export source in the United States.  Read ITA's full blog

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Addresses First-Ever American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit

Acting Deputy Secretary Patrick Gallagher yesterday spoke at the first-ever American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership Summit in Washington, DC. Co-hosted by the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Office and the Council on Competitiveness, the first annual gathering brought together leaders from government, academia, industry and more to address national priorities in energy and manufacturing.

Dr. Gallagher gave brief remarks on the importance of energy and manufacturing to the Administration, the Commerce Department, and to our country as a whole. For many reasons, including the generation of more renewable energy than ever before, the U.S. has become an increasingly attractive place for foreign direct investment.

Several Commerce agencies are working to help companies continue to deepen their investments in the United States in order to maintain the U.S. position as the world's leading producer of environmental technologies in the 21st century.  Specifically, Gallagher cited National Institute of Standards and Technology scientists who are reengineering America's electric grid and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's efforts to fast-track patent applications related to renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

The Commerce Department is at the intersection of issues like energy, sustainability, the environment, innovation and competitiveness, whose links are becoming stronger and more complex. Manufacturing in particular is a key indicator of our country’s innovative capacity, which is why strengthening manufacturing is a major focus of the Commerce Department's recently released "Open for Business Agenda." As the federal agency responsible for leading the government’s manufacturing policy, Commerce plans to support manufacturing at every stage of the product life cycle. Specific initiatives include promoting pre-competitive collaboration among leading-edge manufacturers nationwide and investing in communities that develop comprehensive strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers.

Travel and Tourism Leaders Provide Four Recommendations to the Secretary to Further President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy

Guest blog post by Todd Davidson, Chair and Sam Gilliland, Vice Chair, of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board

The United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board) serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The Board held its final meeting this week and provided the following recommendations to Secretary Pritzker for priority issues to be examined over the next three years.

This week, the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board had its final meeting with Secretary Pritzker and submitted our top priority recommendations to enhance travel and tourism to and within the United States. The President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy last year identified the exciting and overarching goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors by the end of 2021. Here are our top priorities aimed at achieving this goal:

Visa and Entry Process. Our country will not get a second chance to make a positive first impression on international travelers, and long entry wait times at ports of entry are seriously undermining that impression. We need more Customs and Border Patrol officers, but we also need to use technology to move people more efficiently. We must commit to processing all visitors to our country within 30 minutes of their arrival. The travel and tourism industry supports passage of the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act. This legislation is chock full of goodness: it would reauthorize Brand USA, modernize and expand the Visa Waiver Program, facilitate the use of secure videoconferencing for visas, reduce visa wait times, and expand the highly successful Global Entry program.

Infrastructure Investment. With more international and domestic travelers visiting the United States, we must improve America’s transportation infrastructure, including our airports, rail system and highways. Substantial investment and new requirements for sustainable practices are urgently required. Commerce should identify and address the nexus between inadequate transportation infrastructure and hindered economic growth and create a public-private forum to formulate solutions. We need speedy investment and implementation of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System (NextGen) and a public awareness campaign about how NextGen improves the travel experience by enhancing safety, reducing delays, saving fuel and reducing emissions. 

Secretary Pritzker to Lead Business Development Mission to Middle East

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead a senior-executive Business Development Mission to the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar March 8-14, 2014.

The trade mission is critical to building on export growth and furthering the Obama Administration’s efforts to help U.S. businesses compete and succeed in the global economy. It is also an important component of the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which prioritizes trade and investment.

This mission will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in three leading industry sectors with an emphasis on project management and engineering (including construction, architecture and design), renewable energy (solar, wind, waste-to-energy), smart grid and energy efficiency, and environmental technologies (including water/wastewater; air pollution control; and waste management).