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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

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 (http://developer.trade.gov). 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 export.gov/ecr.

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 stopfakes.gov.  
  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 export.gov 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.