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Blog Category: International trade

Secretary Bryson Encouraged by President’s Export Council Recommendations to Help Strengthen U.S. Economy

Secretary Bryson addresses the President's Export Council

Yesterday, Secretary John Bryson met with the President’s Export Council (PEC) with two goals in mind: to discuss further ways to strengthen the U.S. economy; and to update PEC members on the actions taken by the Department and the administration to increase exports.

As the principal national advisory committee on international trade, the PEC provides a forum for public-private interaction at all levels of government and business. It is responsible for advising the president on government policies and programs affecting U.S. trade performance, covering topics that range from export promotion to deliberations over specific trade challenges in various industries and sectors.

Since the PEC last met, the Obama administration has made great strides in creating jobs, increasing exports and growing the economy. For example, the U.S.-Korea and U.S.-Colombia free trade agreements were implemented earlier this spring, and will drive billions of dollars in additional annual exports and create tens of thousands of American jobs.

Europe Travel Log: Secretary Bryson’s Meetings and Events in Berlin, Germany

Photo of Bryson and others on elevated walkways

On May 24-25, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson visited Berlin, Germany–the final stop on his European trip this week–to meet with senior business and government leaders and to address a major conference on trans-Atlantic trade. The Secretary delivered remarks on the importance of trans-Atlantic trade and a strong bilateral investment relationship between the United States and Germany. He also highlighted Germany's vocational training system, which he witnessed first-hand earlier in the week, as an important model for the United States.

‪While in Berlin, Secretary Bryson also met with Minister for Economics and Technology Philipp Roesler, State Secretary Harald Braun of the Foreign Ministry, and Chancellor Merkel's Senior Economic Adviser Lars-Hendrik Roeller. These meetings focused on how the U.S. and Germany can work together to advance economic growth and increase jobs by reducing barriers to trans-Atlantic trade.

‪Secretary Bryson also met with Hans-Peter Keitel, Chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) along with representatives from companies across various sectors, ranging from industrial to IT to automotive and manufacturing. The Secretary encouraged the businesses to consider further investment in the United States, highlighting the attractiveness of the investment climate, including the resources provided by SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.


Europe Travel Log: Secretary Bryson Travels to Paris, France

This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson visited Paris, France for the first leg of a European trip to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to lowering trade barriers and encouraging European businesses to invest in the U.S. In France, Bryson is meeting with several key members of the U.S. and French business communities, as well as with a minister in the new French government. These meetings focused on increasing French investment in the United States, supporting U.S. companies with operations in France, and learning about the new government’s economic policy plans.

On Monday, Secretary Bryson met with the leadership and key members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in France to discuss investment and trade issues facing U.S. industry and to support U.S. company operations and interests in France. He also met with the leadership and key members of MEDEF, a major French business association, to highlight the attractiveness of the investment climate in the United States and learn about the successes, concerns and problems of current and potential investors. Bryson also took the opportunity to introduce French investors to SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.The Secretary later met with the head of the French export agency, UBI France, and the CEOs of three French small businesses that are entering the U.S. market.

U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Now in Force!

Colombian porches superimposed on map of Colombia

Ed Note: The following is a cross-post that originally appeared on ITA's blog, "Tradeology."

Christopher Blaha is a Senior International Economist within the Office of Trade and Policy Analysis and Julie Anglin is the Colombia Desk Officer within the International Trade Administration.

Today more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia become duty-free as part of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. This includes agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment and wood. Also, more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and almost all fruit and vegetable products.

The agreement also provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. For example, Colombia agreed to eliminate measures that prevented firms from hiring U.S. professionals, and to phase-out market restrictions in cable television.

Prior to the enactment of this agreement, the average tariff that U.S. manufactured goods faced entering Colombia was 10.8 percent. With entry into force today, Colombia’s average tariff rate for manufactured goods from the United States has been reduced to 4 percent.

Secretary Bryson Promotes American Businesses Across the Americas at White House Conference

Earlier today, Secretary Bryson delivered welcoming remarks at the “White House Conference on Connecting the Americas.” The all-day conference brings together business and community leaders from across the country with Administration officials working to expand opportunities for American businesses and people throughout the Americas.

The conference also serves as a forum for the Hispanic community, with cultural and economic ties to the rest of the Americas, to further identify ways in which they can partner up with the administration to promote economic growth and prosperity.

Secretary Bryson spoke at the conference about how the U.S. can ensure a strong economic foundation at home, while strengthening its economic ties throughout the Americas. He reinforced that the people and cultures from throughout the Western Hemisphere are all part of the story of America, and together can create a powerful force in the global economy.

The U.S. economy benefits substantially from trade in the Americas. Over 40 percent of U.S. exports go to the Americas, and those exports are growing faster than U.S. trade with the rest of the world.

Almost 84 percent of U.S. trade within the region is covered by Free Trade Agreements. The U.S. has already opened trade with Mexico, Chile, Central America, Dominican Republic, and Peru through FTAs, and continues to work toward implementation with Colombia and Panama.

In his remarks, the Secretary also pointed out how the Department is working hard to connect U.S. companies to trade opportunities throughout the Americas. Earlier this week, Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff visited Washington, and Secretary Bryson led a meeting of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. Leaders from both countries discussed how they can build on the U.S.-Brazilian record year of over $100 billion in bilateral trade.

The Department of Commerce is co-sponsoring the “White House Conference on Connecting the Americas” with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council of the Americas, an international business organization focused on economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere. 

Secretary Bryson Co-Chairs 2012 U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, Promotes Bonds of Bilateral Economic Prosperity

Yesterday, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson co-chaired the 7th annual U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum meeting at the White House in efforts to boost our commercial ties with Brazil and continue opportunities to grow the U.S. economy.

The Secretary was joined by Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman, Fernando Pimentel, Brazil’s Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, and Gleisi Hoffmann, Brazil’s Presidential Chief of Staff.

Together with 24 CEO’s from the United States and Brazil, the coalition worked to provide joint recommendations to the two governments on ways to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship and advance bilateral trade.

Secretary Bryson praised the team on achieving key goals in their economic relationship, and encouraged further opportunity for even greater collaboration on trade investment, infrastructure, strategic energy, education and innovation. Secretary Bryson also announced that he will travel to Brazil for the next meeting this year.

Secretary Bryson Talks about Turkish-American Economic Cooperation

Secretary Bryson and Members of the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered keynote remarks at a luncheon co-hosted by the Center for American Progress and the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON). The event, titled “Building on the Progress in Turkish-American Economic Cooperation,” comes at an exciting time in U.S.-Turkish relations, with bilateral trade reaching a record level of $20 billion this past year.

Turkey is the world’s-17th largest economy, and was the world’s second-fastest growing economy in 2011.

During his remarks, Bryson talked about the president’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports from 2010 to 2014. He noted that U.S. exports to Turkey have already doubled.

Over the past two years, the U.S. and Turkey have come together through the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation. Secretary Bryson announced today that he plans to attend the next Framework meeting that will be held in Turkey in late June.

Secretary Bryson also emphasized the importance of stronger bilateral investment, including efforts such as SelectUSA.

Bryson ended his remarks by saying, “Let’s do everything possible to usher in a long and prosperous era–as the bonds between our two nations continue to grow in the 21st century.”

Secretary Bryson Addresses the Industry Trade Advisory Committees

Secretary Bryson Addresses the Industry Trade Advisory Committees

Earlier today, Secretary John Bryson addressed the advisers of the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs) at a quarterly plenary session at the Department of Commerce. The Secretary laid out his priorities in manufacturing, trade and investment.

The ITACs are comprised of U.S. business leaders who assist the Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative with trade policy. Secretary Bryson was joined by U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk and 16 of the ITAC committees to discuss the importance of new and upcoming trade initiatives.

This meeting takes place just weeks after the 2nd anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative. The work of the ITACs is helping to build on the all-time record of $2.1 trillion in U.S. exports last year. Export-supported jobs also increased by 1.2 million from 2009 to 2011.

Secretary Bryson praised the advisers for their work on the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, which recently went into effect. This agreement dropped tariff rates to zero on about 80 percent of U.S. goods exported to Korea. Secretary Bryson also thanked the ITACs for their continued work on efforts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Secretary also discussed the importance of advancing America’s bilateral relationships through strong and balanced growth in areas such as trade and investment, and cited his recent trade mission to India as an example of this.

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

Korea Trade Agreement Enters into Effect

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never has that been more clear than today.

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

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