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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

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 care.in 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.