Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: International Trade Administration

Trading Across the Border – The United States and Mexico’s $1 Billion per Day Relationship

Juan Carlos Baker, Director General of Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy with Hector Mancha Ana Hinojosa, Director of Field Operations, El Paso Field Office with Michael Camuñez, Assistant Secretary for ITA’s Market Access and Compliance.

Guest blog post by Michael Camuñez, Assistant Secretary for ITA’s Market Access and Compliance

Last year, trade between the United States and Mexico amounted to nearly $400 billion. With 85% of that trade crossing the border each day by truck, the U.S.-Mexico border region plays a vital role in the U.S. economy. And it is open for business.

This is the message I heard last Wednesday through Friday when I visited the El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico region.

As Americans, we hear a lot about our southern border, little of it positive. Drugs, violence, and illegal immigration are what we see on television and read in the newspaper. While such stories may be in the media’s economic interest, I want to share an entirely different story that is in every American’s economic interest.

Two-way trade between the United States and Mexico amounts to more than $1 billion a day. To put the scope and depth of our relationship in perspective, consider that last year U.S. exports to Mexico exceeded our exports to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. Remarkably, even our imports from Mexico support U.S. jobs—64% of the content of the Mexican goods we import include U.S. inputs. The continued growth of this relationship is vital to the America’s economic recovery.

And that is exactly why I went to the border—to discuss how infrastructure investments and improvements in customs procedures can facilitate increased trade.

To emphasize the need for a shared approach, I asked Juan Carlos Baker, Director General of Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy, to join me. Together, we met with many of the principal exporters on both sides of the border—maquiladora executives representing the Mexican private sector and U.S. small and medium sized business owners who comprise the maquiladoras’ supply chain. We had excellent discussions with both groups and received useful feedback, which we will incorporate into our respective government’s efforts to grow trade along our southern border.
 
We also visited The Bridge of the Americas, one of the busiest ports of entry on the entire U.S.-Mexico border where we were briefed by senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials regarding the challenges of advancing our dual interests: security and commerce. We communicated industry concerns and gained useful information that will inform our efforts on behalf of our respective private sectors.

Along the way, we also discussed some of the untapped potential of the border region, particularly that in renewable energy. I spoke at the U.S.-Mexico Border Energy Forum Plenary Session, where I offered insight into Commerce’s efforts to develop this sector.

What is most important is that we not lose sight of the importance of the U.S.-Mexico border to the U.S. economy and to our global competitiveness. We share much more than a border with Mexico. Our societies and cultures are inextricably linked—I should know, my family came from Mexico generations ago and settled in the border region, right near El Paso. Those ties present an enormous opportunity from which we must not be distracted.

Pushing for Progress in the Middle East and North Africa

(Photo: ©  WEF)

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

Recent events have reaffirmed just how extraordinary this period is for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  The Arab Spring has generated a lot of hope for people across the region. However, it’s also presented a number of questions that need to be answered, many of which center around economic issues like unemployment and slow growth. 

As the World Economic Forum (WEF) put it, “Recent shifts in the Arab world, coupled with an economic contraction at the global level, have created renewed urgency for decision-makers across the region to address the unfolding economic situation.”

So, it’s fitting that, this past weekend, King Abdullah of Jordan hosted a WEF event to address job creation. World leaders gathered to discuss pressing issues including the advancement of youth and women, the impact of social media, and, of course, U.S.-Arab relations.

Our Biotech Trade Mission in China: Developing Prosperous Partnerships

Sánchez, officials at DiaCarta signing ceremony

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.”

That’s a proverb I learned during my recent trip to China, where I led a delegation of 19 U.S. biotech companies on a trade mission. Today marked the end of our journey. But, I’m confident that the steps we took will help these firms generate new opportunities in the region.     

As I get ready to depart, I’m struck by the huge possibilities in the country. China’s biotech sector is growing roughly 25 percent a year. Its market is huge in terms of sales and clinical trial opportunities, as well as potential investment. And, China’s enormous consumer base and impressive economic growth further reinforce the importance of the market for U.S. firms.

New Friendships and New Opportunities to Do Business in Brazil

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J. Sánchez inaugurating the U.S. Pavilion at the Offshore Technologies Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

Today I had the honor of inaugurating the U.S. Pavilion at the Offshore Technologies Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The pavilion is giving more than 80 U.S. firms the opportunity to exhibit their products and services to potential buyers in Brazil and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.  The pavilion also supports a Department of Commerce–certified trade mission that was organized by the state of Louisiana along with that state’s Committee of 100 for Economic Development.

Why Brazil? There are a lot of reasons for U.S. companies to look for business here, especially in the energy sector. Economically, Brazil is on the rise. It is the world’s seventh largest economy and in 2010 posted a real GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent. This strong growth is sure to continue in the long-term. One factor in that growth will be Brazil’s oil and gas sector, buoyed by the recent discovery of offshore oil reserves in the Santos Basin. The discovery of these reserves is good news for the United States—both for the potential market it represents for U.S. sellers of energy products, technologies, and services as well as for the likelihood that that it will make Brazil a stable and secure source of energy for the United States in the future.

Spotlight on Commerce: Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J. SÁnchez Cutting a Ribbon at Trade Show in 2011

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Francisco J. Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

I consider myself a lucky guy. 

Every day, I have the privilege of serving the American people as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.  It is a tremendous honor to be able to give back to a country that has given so much to me.

My story is the American story.  My grandparents and father were immigrants from Spain; they believed in the American Dream, and worked hard to achieve it. 

We lived in Tampa, Florida.  Growing up, I learned a lot of lessons that serve me well today.  Through my father, who used to run a candy factory in Spain, I was able to learn how important small- and medium-sized businesses are to a community’s development.  My mother worked as the Director of one of the first Head Start programs in the country.  She wanted all children to get the best possible start in life and dedicated her time to helping others.  That’s why she is my hero.

Manufacturing Council Ensuring We Build It In America

Acting Secretary Blank Chairs the 5th Manufacturing Council Meeting

Let’s build it in America.

That’s what we’ve done for generations.  And today, the private sector members of the Manufacturing Council had the opportunity to meet with Acting Secretary Blank, Under Secretary Sánchez, Assistant Secretary Lamb-Hale and others from the federal government to continue the discussion on how to enhance our global competitiveness and make the important investments necessary to ensure American manufacturers and communities across the country can continue to innovate here, manufacture here and have the skilled workforce they need to do it.

The Council and the team at Commerce and within the Obama administration are committed to helping businesses invest, grow and create jobs in America. We are tackling head-on the issues that the manufacturing industry, through the Council, have identified as most important. Some of these issues are a comprehensive energy strategy, passage of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panamaworkforce development initiatives and tax and regulatory matters.

And, we’re making progress. Today, Secretary Blank discussed the American Jobs Act with the Council, highlighting, in particular, the pieces on infrastructure investment, the extension of 100% business expensing and payroll tax holidays that the Council has addressed.

And, we’re also making strides toward connecting the key players in these areas so they join forces. The Council is working with Skills for America’s Future, Change the Equation, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and the Departments of Labor and Education to look at concrete next steps to address the workforce issues. The Commerce Department, along with partner agencies, announced the winners of our i6 Green Challenge. These winners will have the ability to leverage resources from five federal agencies to take their clean technology innovations and bring them to market.

Green Building is Booming in Brazil

Lamb on tour photo

Guest blog post by Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services, International Trade Administration

“It’s Brazil’s Time!”  I still can hear the clarion call of Rick Fedrizzi, President of the U.S. Green Building Council, from his opening speech during the Green Building Conference Brasil in São Paulo last week.  I was in Brazil to foster expanded commercial ties between Brazilian and American firms in the green building and energy sectors and advance the objectives of the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue.  For a portion of the trip, I accompanied 14 companies participating in the Department of Commerce-certified, Brazil-U.S. Business Council-organized Trade Mission. These are innovative and forward-thinking small and medium companies interested and ready to export green building products to Brazil.

Fedrizzi also pointed out that Brazil was among the top five countries for LEED certifications, so there is definitely a market opportunity for these companies. It also helps that financing is available for construction of buildings designed to LEED specifications.  Brazil is rushing to get ready for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

At No Cost to Taxpayers, ITA Helps Veterans Learn a New Career and Local Businesses Benefit

U.S. Department District Director Anne Evans, Congressman Joe Courtney, Andrew Lavery (Military Intern), and Connecticut State Representative Pamela Sawyer

One of the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) key efforts is to strengthen the competitiveness of U.S. industry while promoting trade and investment to ensure that every American who wants a job can find one. This work is done at ITA’s offices and US Export Assistance Centers (USEAC) throughout the United States. The USEAC in Middletown, Connecticut is entirely focused on helping local companies export and create jobs. The office only has two full time employees to meet the needs of the over 2500 Connecticut companies they assist. Even though their staffing levels have decreased in recent years, they are working smarter and are providing 300% more export assistance than 4 years ago.

One of the smarter ways the USEAC is meeting the increasing demands for export programs from their 2500+ clients is to rely on the support of volunteer interns.  These interns provide a valuable service to companies and the office, while learning new skills and a new career. Over the past 2 ½ years many of those interns have been transitioning service members and veterans. Our military interns are mission-focused and exceptional leaders. The Military Internship Program benefits Connecticut exporters and gives back to those who have sacrificed the most for our cherished freedom. The mission is to train our veteran interns in business skills in a business comfortable environment while supporting them in their transition to civilian careers. Upon completion of the program, with our help, each military intern has found full time employment.  At no cost to the taxpayer, companies are getting valuable exporting expertise and veterans are finding new careers in the private sector. This effort fits right into President Obama’s challenged to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. Just as many American businesses are finding creative ways to meet their bottom lines, so are the trade specialists in local offices around the country who serve the needs of their clients and provide training to our veterans who have served our country.

Six Cities, Ten Days and Hundreds of Businesses

Sanchez is on a tour of a manufacturing facility

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

From Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Albuquerque to Walnut Creek, I spent last week traversing the Southwestern United States talking to small businesses, textile manufacturers, exporters and rural communities about the positive impact exporting has on our economic stability and potential to put people back to work.

During this trip, I met with leaders from more than 150 businesses to discuss President Obama’s National Export Initiative and how important it is for small- and medium-sized businesses to expand their markets through exporting. I also reinforced the importance of leveraging the public-private partnerships that will foster investment, support communities and assist rural businesses to succeed, expand and create jobs.

In New Mexico, I spoke to businesses about the importance of the APEC economies, which have generated nearly 200 million new jobs and 70 percent of overall global economic growth during the past decade. APEC members increasingly represent the global economy of the 21st century.

From Frozen Sheep Heads to Prairie Dogs, Rural Offices Help Exporters Compete

Winners of an ITA Export Assistance Center Excellence Award

Guest blog post by Carrie Bevis, intern in Commerce's International Trade Administration, Office of Public Affairs

Many of the U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) are small offices that serve a wide territory mainly made up of rural communities. The specialists at these offices must be flexible, resourceful, and willing to accommodate the needs of a diverse clientele. Recently, three of them spoke with International Trade Update about their work: Carey Hester, director of the Missoula, Montana, USEAC; Cinnamon King, director of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USEAC; and Heather Ranck, an international trade specialist in the Fargo, North Dakota, USEAC.

According to Ranck, the USEACs play a greater role in rural areas. “We become a precious resource to businesses because we can connect companies to resources that are perceived as distant, through our amazing network.” Hester added that “often, small rural companies are less familiar and less trusting of trade, thus requiring more dependence on their Commercial Service officer. We really have to sell the idea of exporting to these companies. I am the face of the federal government to a lot of the companies out here.”

Personal contact is very important, according to Ranck. “Our work with clients is very relationship based. You have to drive out to visit them, learn about their company, and build trust before you begin export assistance. A lot of our clients become our friends.”