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Blog Category: Exports

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 Trade.gov/dbia or contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting the Best Environment for U.S. Exporters

Supporting the Best Environment for U.S. Exporters

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

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

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

This month, the Environmental Technology team did just that.

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

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

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

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

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

Simple Steps to Expanding Your Business through Exports

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

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

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

Here are six steps to start exporting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s NEXT for U.S. exports?

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013 infographic

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

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Partnership Between the Port of Houston and Department of Commerce is Crucial for Continued Economic Success

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Len Waterworth, Executive Director of the Port of Houston Authority

Guest blog post by Len Waterworth, Executive Director of the Port of Houston Authority.

It was an honor to host the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, at one of the nation’s busiest and most critically important ports, the Port of Houston.

As a civic and business leader and entrepreneur, Secretary Pritzker understands that excellent transportation infrastructure allowing manufacturers to access materials and deliver products is key to increasing exports. It is how a port like Houston, geographically positioned as the gateway to America’s heartland with exceptional rail and roadway connections, has grown to be the nation’s number one port in terms of foreign tonnage.

The Port of Houston's economic activity helps keep Texas the nation's top exporting state. For the past 11 years, Texas has outpaced the rest of the country in exports. In 2012, Texas exports totaled $265 billion, up by 5.4 percent from 2011, according to Commerce Department data. Top export markets include Mexico ($94.8 billion), Canada ($23.7 billion), China ($10.3 billion), Brazil ($10 billion), and the Netherlands ($9.5 billion).

Exports from the Houston metro area topped $110 billion in 2012, an annual increase of almost $6 billion. That was enough to surpass New York for the first time since 2006 as the top export region in the U.S.

The partnership between the Port Authority and Department of Commerce is crucial for continued success and for making America awesome. A good example is Foreign Trade Zone 84, which is number one in the nation for merchandise received in warehouse/distribution centers. The FTZ program in the Houston region is providing economic stimulus in the form of jobs, tax base and revenue.  

Obama Administration Announces CEOs for U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Caroline Atkinson today announced the U.S. private sector members who will serve the next term on the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. The Forum will meet during the State visit of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to Washington, D.C., in October and will provide joint recommendations to both presidents on opportunities to advance the U.S.-Brazil bilateral relationship. Pritzker and Atkinson will co-chair the ninth meeting of the CEO Forum along with Brazilian Presidential Chief of Staff Minister Gleisi Hoffmann and Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Fernando Pimentel. 

“During his recent trip to Brazil, Vice President Biden asked what the United States and Brazil can do together. The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum seeks to answer that question through a public-private dialogue in which business leaders from the United States and Brazil make recommendations to the highest levels of our respective governments about the future of our bilateral economic and commercial relationship,” said Secretary Pritzker. “I am looking forward to meeting the new and returning CEOs along with both Ministers Pimentel and Hoffmann and Deputy National Security Advisor Atkinson to discuss issues of mutual interest.”

 The Forum has had success opening discussions between the United States and Brazilian governments on a number of important issues, including visa reform, aviation, and education, and was instrumental in concluding the recent U.S.-Brazil Tax Information Exchange Agreement.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Albany, New York and Hartford, Connecticut

Secretary Penny Pritzker looks into a cleanroom with Paul Farrar, General Manager of Global 450mm Consortium (G450C) (Photos courtesy of SUNY's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE))

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Albany, N.Y. and Hartford, Conn. on the second leg of her nationwide listening tour. While in Albany, Secretary Pritzker met with senior leadership of SEMATECH and the New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). SEMATECH is a consortium of leading semiconductor device, equipment, and materials manufacturers and university partners from around the globe working on collaborative research on computer chip technology. CNSE is part of the State College of New York (SUNY) system and is home to the world’s most advanced education, research, and economic development enterprise targeting nanoelectronics and nanotechnology innovations.

SEMATECH and CNSE are both models of how the public and private sectors can work together effectively, advancing innovation, industry collaboration and investment in the United States. Secretary Pritzker also toured and heard from the Commerce Department employees at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Forecast Office.

Top 50 Metropolitan Area Exports Contribute More Than $1 Trillion to U.S. Economy

2012 Merchandise Exports - Top 50 Metro Area Exporters

Great news out of the Department of Commerce today! New data was released on the top 50 metropolitan areas for exports in 2012, which shows a combined contribution of exports from these communities to the U.S. economy of $1.04 trillion dollars.

In fact, America’s metropolitan areas continue to strengthen the U.S. economy each year. Cities committed to increasing their export potential are making it easier for local businesses to sell their goods and services overseas and increasing manufacturing here at home. These exports are helping to support jobs all across the country.

The Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area ranked number one with an impressive total of $110 billion in exports. Combined, the top 50 metropolitan areas for exports around the country totaled $1.04 trillion for the year. Not only did the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area export the most merchandise, but it also had a record high for 2012, along with 29 other metropolitan areas in the top 50 areas for exports. Between 2011 and 2012, the Houston area had an export growth rate of 5.6 percent. The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island area ranked second with $102 billion in exports.

Among the top 25 metropolitan areas for exports, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area showed the highest growth in exports between 2011 and 2012 with exports growing by 42.7 percent over this period. Other metropolitan areas that showed high growth in exports included the San Antonio-New Braunfels area (up 33.3 percent from 2011) and the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area (up 22.3 percent from 2011).

These increases in exports, even in challenging economic times, strengthen the U.S. economy and support millions of jobs here at home. Since the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI) was launched in 2010 – which seeks to double U.S. exports and support an additional two million jobs by the end of 2014 – merchandise exports from metropolitan areas have increased nearly 40 percent since 2009; while jobs supported have increased by 60 percent to 1.3 million.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is committed to helping U.S. businesses increase their exports by finding new markets, reducing trade barriers, and ensuring that U.S. companies compete on a level playing field.

Is your business interested in expanding their product overseas where 95 percent of the world’s potential consumers are? Then contact your nearest Export Assistance Center for support.

Press release