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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

Smarter Manufacturing Makes Businesses More Competitive

Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative logo

Guest blog post by Morgan Barr, an International Economist within the Manufacturing and Services division at the International Trade Administration. She works on sustainable manufacturing issues as well as negotiations for trade agreements.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI) has developed tools and resources to help companies, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, implement sustainable business practices faster and more effectively. The benefits to manufacturers include lower energy and resource costs, increased marketability of products and services and lower regulatory costs and risk.

The Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative developed a number of business friendly resources that are available through its website:

  • Sustainable Business Clearinghouse - This searchable clearinghouse provides information and links to almost 900 federal and state programs and resources dedicated to supporting sustainable business practices.  It includes everything from lean and green assessments, to training, to financial assistance for green improvements.  Users can search by government or non-governmental programs, geographic location, sustainability issue, industry sector and type of assistance.
  • OECD Sustainable Manufacturing Metrics Toolkit - This toolkit provides a simplified set of core sustainability metrics for facilities and products that any company can use to both measure performance and make decisions on improvement.
  • Sustainable Manufacturing 101 Training - This training can be used to train employees anywhere in the company from purchasing to the production line. It is designed to take users through the various aspects of the practice, from energy efficiency to designing for the environment to remanufacturing. This module is currently not available, but scheduled to be completed by October 2011 and will be available on the SMI website.

The More You Know: Key Statistics for Manufacturers and Exporters

Graphic of a spreadsheet overlaid with two charts

Economists, journalists, Wall Street executives and main street businesses as well as consumers look at a variety of economic indicators and data for information and to get a picture of how the economy is doing. The indicators above give us an idea of how our manufacturing sector is fairing in the turmoil of economic indicators that keep us on our toes every day.

Great sources for this information are right here within the Department of Commerce, through our Bureau of the Census (Business and Industry, Manufacturing) where we regularly release reports on sales, inventories, employment, job creation and capacity utilization.

Looking at today’s trade in goods and services numbers will show you a pretty good story about the state of America’s manufacturing sector. For instance, in the first four months of 2011, U.S. exports of manufacturing products increased by $56.9 billion (16.5 percent) to reach $401.4 billion up from $344.5 billion recorded in the first four months of 2010. Major growth categories by value in the first four months of 2011 include petroleum and coal products (up 66%), base chemicals (up 21%), nonferrous metal products (up 34.7%), motor vehicles (up 19%), and agricultural and construction machinery (up 25.4%).

To see where those exports are going, the International Trade Administration provides data and resources on trade statistics, including state and metro export data, profiles of exporting companies, as well as a nifty mapping tool that allows you to see the geographic reach of our exports by product or state. 

Information is golden and having the tools at your fingertips to sift through the relevant information and make sense of it yourself is a powerful advantage.

Expert Advice on Exporting from Successful Companies

As today’s trade numbers show, the appetite for American-made products abroad is growing rapidly. That’s why these five companies have made exporting part of their long-term growth strategy. They know that 95% of all consumers live outside the United States and therefore, the more markets they target, the more diversified their customer base will be. That strategy has served them well as they generally held up better during the recession than companies that didn't export.

But they also know some of the ups and downs for manufacturers just starting to export: concern about the language and cultural differences, not knowing where to start or how to make inroads into new markets, fear that foreign consumers won’t pay once the products leave the country.

And that’s why Jack Hollender, Dan Kleiman, Al Powers, Jason Speer and Terry Koehn agreed to share their experience. In the video below, each shares insight and expertise about getting started in exporting.

In addition to these wise words, the Department of Commerce’s National Export Initiative is designed to help more companies overcome these and other hurdles to exporting. To get their assistance, simply call 1-800-USA-TRADE or go online to Export.gov. Commerce Department experts will work with you to design and implement a market entry or expansion strategy, conduct an international search to find potential agents or distributors for your unique business and contact potential overseas businesses--all on your behalf. Many of these services are free or extremely low cost.

Manufacturing is Vibrant and Vital in America

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke (center) announces the appointment of 24 members of the Manufacturing Council

Guest blog by Jennifer Pilat, Deputy Director for the Office of Advisory Committees within the International Trade Administration. She oversees the Manufacturing Council as well as a number of other private-sector advisory committees.

Superconductors and streetcars. Photovoltaic cells, cars and steel. Cardboard boxes, pharmaceuticals, linens. A vibrant manufacturing sector isn't just critical for the millions of Americans whose jobs depend on it, but is also absolutely central to driving the innovation that fuels the American economy. It is that belief that led U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to appoint the private sector members that comprise the 2010 – 2012 Manufacturing Council. 

The Manufacturing Council serves as the principal private sector advisory committee to the Secretary of Commerce on the United States manufacturing sector and advises the Secretary on matters relating to the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector, and government policies and programs that affect U.S. manufacturers.

Secretary Locke recently designated Joe Anderson, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of TAG Holdings, LLC as the Chair of the Manufacturing Council and Chandra Brown, President of United Streetcar and Vice-President of Business Development and Government Relations of Oregon Iron Works as the Council Vice-Chair. 

The next Council meeting will be held in Clackamas, Oregon at the United Streetcar facility, where members will discuss the free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia, ideas for energy policy to support manufacturing, and educating and training the workforce needed to fill today’s available manufacturing jobs and those that will drive the future of American manufacturing. You can read more about the past work of the Council, on their website: http://www.manufacturing.gov/council. 

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Emphasizes Success of U.S.-Canada Trade

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Conversing with Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank is in Ottawa, Canada today and gave remarks before the American Chamber of Commerce.   She discussed U.S.–Canada commercial relations and how the free flow of goods and services results in huge economic benefits for both countries.  She also highlighted the benefits of creating jobs and economic growth on both sides of the border.

Increasing trade between the two countries will help reach President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports in 5 years.  To reach that goal, Blank emphasized that 2011 needs to be another banner year for U.S.-Canada trade.  In 2010, U.S. exports to Canada reached $248.8 billion.

In fact, the U.S.–Canada economic relationship is unparalleled in the world.  We are each others’ largest trading partners.

Commerce’s Commitment to Eliminating Regulatory Burdens in Support of Growth, Competitiveness and National Security

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In January, President Obama issued an executive order outlining his plan to create a 21st century regulatory system that encourages job creation, economic growth and U.S. competitiveness. The idea was to make it simpler, smarter and more efficient, while still protecting the health and safety of the American people.  As a key part of that plan, he called upon government agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations currently on the books and to remove those that are outdated, unnecessary or excessively burdensome.  

This review has led agencies, including the Department of Commerce, to identify initiatives that have the potential to eliminate tens of millions of hours in reporting burdens and billions of dollars in regulatory costs. Today, the results of each agency’s review is being made public and posted on Whitehouse.gov. 

Here at the Commerce Department, we focused our plan on those bureaus with the greatest regulatory activity: the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

U.S. Tourism is Big Business at International Pow Wow

Chart showing growth in travel and tourism

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

The U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of USA travel.

The three-day event is action-packed and filled with pre-scheduled business appointments, with more than 5,000 attendees expected and international and domestic buyers and representatives from more than 70 countries will be attending. The business negotiations that take place result in the generation of more than $3.5 billion in future USA travel.  In other words, Pow Wow is a big deal. 

We at the Commerce Department have enjoyed a close relationship with Pow Wow for years and added the conference into the Department’s International Buyer Program in 2011. The International Trade Administration (ITA) recruited qualified buyers from all over the world to attend Pow Wow.  There are currently 1,135 international buyer delegates, including delegations from emerging markets like China and the Czech Republic, and 1,047 U.S. companies registered for the show this year.

Secretary Locke Lauds West Paw Design's Export Success at APEC 2011 Meetings

Secretary Locke Lauds West Paw Design's Export Success at APEC 2011 Meetings

On the heels of the APEC 2011 meetings in Big Sky, Montana, Secretary Gary Locke and Senator Max Baucus visited West Paw Design today, a Montana-based manufacturer of eco-friendly pet toys, beds and apparels.  Touring its sustainable manufacturing facilities, Locke praised West Paw for its green manufacturing methods and efforts to export its products to foreign markets.  Promoting green growth among businesses of the Asia-Pacific region is one of the key goals of APEC 2011.

“West Paw exemplifies the kind of green growth and aggressive exporting that we need from small- and medium-sized businesses to reinvigorate our economy,” Locke said.  “It is the export successes of companies like West Paw that are going to help our economy grow, create jobs and meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.”

West Paw, which exports its products to 28 foreign markets, showcased its best sustainable manufacturing practices to more than 70 participants during the tour, including APEC trade officials and private sector representatives from the 21 APEC economies.

West Paw Design integrated sustainability into its manufacturing processes and product design by using recycled and organic materials. The company has 46 employees and has more than doubled the size of its manufacturing facility in 2010 in order to handle the growing demand for its products.  It has utilized several federal government resources to help boost its exports, including the Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service, Manufacturing Extension Partnership and loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Spotlight on Commerce: Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Suresh Kumar cutting a ribbon opening the Commercial Service Pavillion

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.

Suresh Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Asian Pacific American Month gives you time to reflect on your origin, your country of birth and learning through and across cultures.  It is conveying these assets, experiences and skills that build a better community and a better country.   At the U.S. Commercial Service, improving opportunities for American businesses domestically and abroad is what drives me.  It is why I'm behind President Obama's plan to win the future. To do so, we must out-innovate, out-educate and connect U.S. businesses to the 95% of consumers who live outside the U.S.  This is my key responsibility:  connecting U.S. businesses to global opportunities.  This lays the foundation for a strong, sustainable economy in the United States and beyond.

I am privileged to lead a service with almost 1500 trade professionals who assist American enterprises everyday to connect to global partners and to new markets.  Of the U.S.'s 30 million companies, only 1% or 280,000 companies export and of those who do, 58% export to only one market.  We can and we must do better, and it is this challenge and opportunity that the US&FCS trade specialists and I focus on each day.   This country needs more exporters and potential entrepreneurs and exporters amongst you do not have to go it alone - you have the full support of the U.S. Government in connecting you to global partners and global markets.

Spotlight on Commerce: Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

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.

Anita Ramasastry is the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

In my role as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, I develop and advance strategies to keep markets open for U.S. exporters. In the International Trade Administration, we do this by trying to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in other countries. Recently I was asked to establish a new initiative focused on preventing corruption in global trade. In addition, as part of the President’s National Export Initiative, I coordinate new strategies for increasing trade in six growing markets including Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey. I also am a member of the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force – tasked with promoting the growth of the knowledge economy and supporting our Internet and technology companies overseas. In this role, I have focused on how restrictions on Internet data flows can be a trade barrier, hindering innovation and competition in many markets.

Before coming to the International Trade Administration, I was a tenured law professor at the University of Washington, School of Law in Seattle, where I taught and researched commercial and banking law. My research focused on the impact of corruption on economic development in countries with natural resources.

President Obama has spoken of the devastating cost of corruption. And the need for change: “In too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity.  It discourages entrepreneurship, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law while stifling economic growth. With a new commitment to strengthening and enforcing rules against corruption, economic opportunity and prosperity will be more broadly shared.”