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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

Proposed Cuts Hurt Job Creation, Economy, and the Middle-Class

The President has been clear that Republicans in Congress should work with Democrats to finish a budget that cuts wasteful spending while investing in jobs, the economy, and middle class families. Until Congress reaches a budget agreement, the President will not sign individual appropriations bills that simply attempt to enact the House Republican budget into law. That would hurt our economy and make draconian cuts to middle class priorities.

The House Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill demonstrates just how damaging the overall spending limits imposed by House Republican leadership are. The bill would cut $1 billion from the President’s request for the Department of Commerce, requiring a halt to investments in areas designed to help grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class. The bill cuts more than $70 million from the International Trade Administration, which prevents placement of Foreign Commercial Service Officers in priority markets to help U.S. companies expand exports. That cut also limits our ability to attract foreign investment.  Instead of building on the momentum of resurgent American manufacturing as the President did in this budget, the bill terminates the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia, which is helping the industry identify long-term manufacturing needs, and it cuts $33 million from the President’s request for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). The MEP program is a federal-state partnership, which consists of centers located across the country that work directly with their local manufacturing communities to strengthen the competitiveness of our nation's domestic manufacturing base.

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

Exporting to Africa: The Success of the DBIA Campaign

President Obama and Senegal President Sall at press conference. Photo by White House, Pete Souza.

President Obama believes sub-Saharan Africa could be the world’s next major economic success story. That is why in June 2012, he issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa (PDF) to escalate the U.S. efforts to stimulate economic growth, trade, and investment in the region. One year later, the President is in Africa to highlight our success under this strategy.

A key component of the President’s strategy is the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Johannesburg, South Africa last November. Its main objective is to bolster federal trade promotion and financing capabilities in order to help U.S. businesses obtain trade and investment opportunities. With these opportunities, the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa will continue to grow.  

Since its unveiling, Commerce has been working alongside other federal agencies to encourage U.S. companies–with a focus on small- and medium- sized businesses and African Diaspora-owned business–to trade and invest in the region. A little more than six months into the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, we wanted to share some of successes with you.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ronald Lorentzen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, ITA

Photo of Lorentzen at his desk

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Ronald Lorentzen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, International Trade Administration

As the career official responsible for the day-to-day management of Import Administration, I perform many roles: making the budgetary ends meet; acting as policy adviser plenipotentiary; being an “executive sponsor” of various projects; and serving frequently as a diplomatic counselor or empathetic ear to our organization’s staff and external stakeholders.

Import Administration’s core mission is to administer our nation’s antidumping and countervailing duty laws, which provide a remedy–typically, via a special import tariff–to help U.S. industries that are injured as a result of unfairly traded imports.  These remedies are determined through quasi-judicial investigations conducted under the close scrutiny of the courts and the World Trade Organization. While the process is sanctioned by international trade rules and receives broad support from the Congress, the outcome of any given investigation can displease the domestic industry, the foreign exporters, the foreign government(s) and–in many cases–all of the above. You have to have a thick skin to do my kind of work. But the work itself can be intellectually fascinating, impinging upon some of the most controversial trade policy issues and of make-or-break importance to the survival of many U.S. businesses and the livelihoods of many Americans.

How did I get here? I was born in northeastern Ohio and grew up in Indiana and Illinois, graduating from Bradley University in Peoria, IL, with a B.A. in French and international relations. I had no clue when I was in high school that one could specialize in such a field, but I think that my sense of being “different” led me to explore that possibility and the options that it might present. That led to a junior year of college at the Sorbonne in Paris, which in turn convinced me that I must continue in this field and find another chance at further study abroad. I was accepted by the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies M.A. program and packed my bags for a year at SAIS’s center in Bologna, Italy, with my second year bringing me to Washington–my home ever since. I can see more clearly now that my scholarly interests spoke to the calling that I had to understand and interact with people of different cultures, but the experience of living abroad was profoundly transformative in liberating me from my own, often self-imposed limitations as a gay man.

International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service Makes Exporting Easier for Small Businesses

U.S. Commercial Service Logo

In early 2011, Vanport Outfitters received its first commercial overseas order from Japan. That is when they started working with the U.S. Commercial Service, which assisted them throughout the export process. Some challenges Vanport faced included building brand awareness and finding quality contacts overseas to do business with. To address these issues, Vanport used U.S. Commercial Service business matchmaking services. “As a small company, few have heard of us, and are already selling competing products from better known firms. We find that we have to work hard to demonstrate that we’re serious about our craft. We really enjoyed working with the U.S. Commercial Service and found that the services provided helped make selling our goods outside the country easy, and we are continuing to build our brand awareness,” said Thomas Craig, Business Manager at Vanport Outfitters.

The company decided to focus on their export potential and actively pursue other markets, and in doing so, relied on assistance provided by the Trade Information Center, including market research, trade counseling, and assistance with export regulations. The result was that Vanport Outfitters has received additional orders from ten different countries, and is planning to export into East Asia, Oceania, Europe, and Canada.

Pre-Registration Opens For SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit

SelectUSA Summit 2013

Pre-registration is now open for the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit! This first-ever event will take place in Washington, DC on October 31 and November 1. 

The two-day SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit will connect international and domestic investors and firms with economic development organizations (EDOs) from across the country in an effort to promote investment here and support the creation of American jobs.

Through a series of presentations and panel discussions, Summit participants will hear from world-class business leaders, senior Administration officials, and industry and technical experts. The Summit will feature an exhibition area where EDOs can showcase their business opportunities. Participants will also learn what Federal resources are available for investing in the United States. Another key component of the Summit will be matchmaking sessions, with opportunities for extensive networking.

SelectUSA, located within the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, was established by President Obama in 2011. This Presidential initiative is charged with leading federal government efforts to promote the United Sates as the premier global investment destination and facilitate investment in the nation. SelectUSA provides counseling to the global investment community, serves as an ombudsman for investors, and advocates for U.S. cities, states, and regions competing for global investment.

International Travelers to the United States Post Record Numbers in Visits and Spending

Bryce Canyon National Park

U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez highlighted new data today that show spending by international visitors to the United States in April 2013 totaled nearly $14.5 billion, an increase of more than 5 percent when compared to April 2012. International visitors have spent an estimated $57.9 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related services year to date in 2013 (January through April), an increase of 8 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11.2 billion during April. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors totaled nearly $3.3 billion for the month. The United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of April in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of nearly $4.2 billion.

In 2012, international travel and tourism spending reached a record $168.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2011. The increase was the result of a surge in international visitors to the United States: in 2012, a record 67.0 million international visitors came to the United States, an increase of 4.3 million from the year before. Highlights of the 2012 arrivals data show that Canadian visitors set a record with 22.7 million visitors, up 6 percent.  Mexico was second with a record 14.5 million arrivals, up 8 percent. The U.K., (-2 percent), Japan (+14 percent), and Germany (+3 percent) rounded out the top five. Countries among the top 20 with the largest increase in 2012 from the previous year were: China (+35 percent), Colombia (+21 percent), Venezuela and Argentina (both up +20 percent), and Brazil (+ 19 percent). All five countries set records for visits to the United States in 2012.

The Department of Commerce Supports U.S.-ASEAN Partnerships

ASEAN Member Nations

It’s no secret that Asia is a source of tremendous economic growth. For more than 35 years, the United States and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) member countries have worked to foster economic development through trade and investment.

This week, officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will join a visiting delegation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers for the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Road Show events in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, California, as well as in Washington, D.C. U.S. government officials from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, USTR, and State. Trade ministers from ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) will meet with Members of Congress, local government officials and business leaders to discuss various trade issues, commercial diplomacy, and trade-openness. The U.S. Department of Commerce is specifically committed to economic engagement with ASEAN in support of the White House Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative. ASEAN’s rapid economic development, growing middle class, and combined total trade of over $200 billion in goods and services speak to the tremendous enterprise and potential of the region. 

By 2015, ASEAN seeks to establish a unified economic market. The United States supports the integration efforts by ASEAN to establish an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will benefit both ASEAN economies and its U.S. business partners. The AEC would establish free flows of goods, services and foreign direct investment, as well as freer skilled labor and cross-border capital flows.

ASEAN’s progress toward establishing AEC, will have a strong impact on U.S.-ASEAN trade and investment. With a combined population of nearly 600 million people, an integrated ASEAN will lead to greater economies of scale and lower costs – which will help companies, workers and citizens in both the U.S. and ASEAN thrive.

The Commerce Department will continue to play a strong and active role in engaging with ASEAN. Commerce will do its part to foster more public-private relationships and support trade missions to ASEAN countries to help strengthen U.S.-ASEAN economic futures.

Guest blog post: Developing Foreign Business is Easier than You Think

Portrait of Friesen

Guest blog post by Dr. Cody Friesen, founder and president of Fluidic Energy, an associate professor at Arizona State University and a member of the U.S. Manufacturing Council.

As the founder of Fluidic Energy and a member of the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Council, I’m always mindful of the state of the economy. It’s impossible not to notice the beneficial impact of trade, and the importance of manufacturing, to the continued growth of U.S. exports.

The Manufacturing Council exists to advise Commerce leadership on the best policies to support manufacturing and U.S. exports.As great as exporting sounds in theory, the barriers to exporting can seem high to many small or medium-sized companies, but that’s really not the case.

I had the privilege of joining Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and 19 other American companies on a trade mission to Latin America, discussing infrastructure development in the region.

We were able to meet one-on-one with government officials and foreign company executives who will be shaping the growing infrastructure of these growing economies. We made crucial contacts and learned the critical facts in each country that will help us to maximize the opportunities for our company in the region.

The Department of Commerce was instrumental in pulling together the meetings most meaningful to Fluidic. The Gold Key Matching Service and the local International Trade Administration staff, especially the U.S. Commercial Service personnel, in each country made it possible to rapidly assess potential business opportunities.

Digital Government Strategy Brings Big Changes to the Commerce Department

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Digital Government Strategy, an effort by the Administration to transform public-facing government services in line with 21st century expectations. The Department of Commerce has made some big strides in providing better information to citizens in a timely manner through multiple formats and increasing access to services on mobile devices. The goal is to make citizen services and information available anywhere, anytime, and on any device, and in formats that facilitate additional use by public developers and entrepreneurs.

Technology is changing so rapidly that nearly 50% of American adults own a smart phone today, up from 35% only one year ago. To help keep pace with the rapid deployment of mobile technology, Commerce is working hard to ensure our services and data are available to citizens in whatever format and on whatever device they prefer. For example, earlier this week, NOAA released a mobile app to provide free nautical charts for recreational boaters to ensure safer and easier boating. NOAA is putting the finishing touches on the iOS version of their Shortfin Mako Shark Live Release app for public release next week. The success of these apps builds upon the America’s Economy app from the U.S. Census Bureau that already has more than 90,000 downloads.

We also have released the additional data for public consumption. For example, the International Trade Administration has released an application programming interface (API) for Export Trade Events so that data can be used by other organizations to pull the most relevant events for their members. The Department's Bureau of Industry and Security created the Commerce Control List Order of Review Decision Tool, a new web-based tool to assist exporters in understanding changes being made as part of the Administration's Export Control Reform Initiative. All information available for public use is on Data.gov and also on our new Developer page. The release of this data and APIs is intended to provide developers, researches, entrepreneurs and others with the ability to access government data in ways that make it easier to use and program.