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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

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.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Next Phase of the National Export Initiative -- NEI/NEXT

Today, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced NEI/NEXT – a data-based, customer service-driven initiative to ensure that more American businesses can fully capitalize on markets that are opening up around the world. Through five core objectives, NEI/NEXT will build on Administration-wide achievements under the National Export Initiative (NEI), to help all businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.

If you missed her speech, below is a collection of tweets from her account and audience members that summarizes her remarks.

May is World Trade Month 2014

Guest blog post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Happy World Trade Month!

For years, May has been the time to not only recognize the benefits of international trade, but also for organizations around the country to support more American companies competing overseas.

For the United States, the benefits of trade have been great, as have our successes. We recently announced that for the fourth straight year, the United States set a record for annual exports in 2013, at $2.3 trillion. That is a 40 percent growth in total exports since 2009.

Behind those exports are millions of well-paying American jobs – a record 11.3 million jobs to be exact. That number is an increase of 1.6 million from 2009.

As more American businesses compete and succeed in the global marketplace, the entire national economy reaps benefit.

New Expansion to Support New Opportunities

Guest blog post by Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Last week, Commerce Secretary Pritzker made an important announcement that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting developing economies and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to U.S. businesses competing overseas.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will open offices in five new markets, bringing Foreign Commercial Service (CS) officers into some of the world's most rapidly developing economies. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department, we will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burma this calendar year.

These new offices, and our staff additions in other offices around the world, will make us more capable of supporting U.S. exporters. We can support more Gold Key Matchmaking, we can conduct more market research, and we can help connect U.S. companies to more global markets.

As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I'm very excited to be a part of this major expansion - especially in such important markets for U.S. businesses.

Driving German FDI – the U.S. as a Manufacturing & Distribution Hub, and an Export Platform

Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) stock totaled $2.7 trillion in 2012, a 6 percent increase from the prior year, which equals the average annual growth rate between 2001-2011.

Guest blog post by Amy Zecha, International Investment Specialist with SelectUSA. Her portfolio covers Central and Eastern Europe, including Germany. 

SelectUSA just finished another successful event at the Hannover Messe manufacturing trade fair – the largest in the world – and now we’re gearing up for another big event in Germany.  In September, we’ll be participating in Automechanika, a global trade show for the automotive industry.  We hope you’ll join us!

It’s been a great couple of months for German investment in the United States, and we’ve had some exciting news in the auto industry.  In a post last month, ITA’s Tradeology blog highlighted some impressive figures – including the 115% growth in U.S. auto exports of passenger vehicles between 2009 and 2013.

It is therefore no surprise to see international automakers – such as Germany’s BMW – continue to grow their U.S. manufacturing operations. At the end of March, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined BMW officials and others in Spartanburg, SC in celebrating the start of production of the X4 – and the announcement of the brand new X7. The addition of this model line will make Spartanburg BMW’s largest manufacturing facility in the world.

BMW, as a business, knows the value of manufacturing in the United States, and also the advantages of using the U.S. as an export platform. Today, BMW is one of the top auto exporters in the United States. More than half of all the cars produced by BMW at their Spartanburg plant are shipped to other markets beyond our borders. BMW has clearly harnessed the power of U.S. manufacturing and successfully coupled it with the export opportunities offered by U.S. trade agreements to maximize the potential of their U.S. operations.

This is just one case study of German success in the U.S. market. Success comes in many sizes - sometimes it's the small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) that makes the commitment to the United States, like PTF Pfuller, a manufacturer of precision parts and assemblies for the semiconductor, food, medical technology, laser and aerospace industries. The CEO, Mr. Oliver Zintl spent two years working with Jenny Trick of Racine County Economic Development Corporation, after an initial meeting at the USA Investment Center organized by SelectUSA and CS Germany at Hannover Messe 2011. PTF established its U.S. division in Sturtevant, Wisconsin in August 2013 with initial plans to start with a small sales staff – but then noted the potential to add manufacturing and a distribution center within five years, creating at least 50 jobs. PTF cited the tremendous work of Racine County and Milwaukee 7 (a regional economic development organization), as well as the central location, access to existing customers in the region, and the quality of the Gateway Technical College – which offers the potential for a nearby source of talent for the company.

Secretary Pritzker Delivers Remarks on America’s Economic Future in the Asia-Pacific

In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed the United States’ commitment to strengthening commercial and economic ties throughout the Asia-Pacific, which is a critical dimension of the president’s rebalance toward this fast-growing region. The Asia-Pacific region presents rapidly growing opportunities for American businesses and workers. The region accounts for nearly 60 percent of world GDP and 40 percent of global trade. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the United States’ leadership role in efforts such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, and she also emphasized the growing U.S. ties with both longstanding and emerging trade partners.

Read a summary of her remarks and audience tweets below.

First Americas Competitiveness Exchange Encourages Collaboration, Drives Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Western Hemisphere

Guest Blog Post by Walter Bastian, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for The Western Hemisphere

Competition and collaboration aren’t typically mentioned in the same breath. For nations and businesses competing to innovate and prosper in a global marketplace, these concepts seem completely antithetical to one another.

That’s why the first Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Exchange) is such a unique and exciting partnership.

As part of the Exchange, senior officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) last week led a delegation of 45 business and government leaders from 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries on a tour across the Southeast United States. They visited five cities in four days with stops in Atlanta, Ga., Greenville, S.C., Conover, Kannapolis, and Charlotte, N.C.

The delegation toured technology centers, innovation hubs, and investment zones to see how U.S. companies are working to create some of the most advanced products in the world. The tour was geared to help make the interpersonal and inter-governmental connections that can lead to future international trade and investment deals.

The Americas Competitiveness Exchange for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provided a great opportunity for decision and policy makers in the Americas to see the results of economic development initiatives and meet high level authorities, leaders of private sector associations, public and private universities with research and innovation centers, looking to explore and expand the links between our economies and key stakeholders.

The United States and Latin America maintain a very special and very important investment relationship. In 2012, the total stock of Latin American foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States was nearly $96 billion. And every day, 259,000 workers in the United States go to work in U.S. subsidiaries of Latin American firms. 

Join the Conversation on Investment

Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

Guest blog post by Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

This month, SelectUSA is really upping our game when it comes to online engagement around investment.  We hope you’ll join the conversation on Twitter at #SelectUSA!

Our colleagues across the Commerce Department will be sharing their thoughts on how innovation, data and hard work contribute to job creation. We’re collaborating with our friends at the State Department’s Economic & Business Affairs Bureau, as well as with our Commerce and State colleagues throughout the United States and globally at our embassies and consulates. 

But we’re not stopping with Commerce and State. We’re reaching out across the U.S. federal government through the Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), to more than twenty other agencies.  (You can find all of our Commerce and IIWG twitter profiles here.)

This is a big conversation, but most importantly, we hope to be hearing from YOU.

We’re broadening the conversation at #SelectUSA to talk about how investment in the United States drives job creation and how we can work together to attract even more jobs.

Did you know that, as of 2011 (the most recent data available), U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies employed more than 5.6 million workers and paid an average annual salary of $77,600?  According to preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows totaled $187.5 billion in 2013, rising from $160.1 billion in 2012.  The United States also recently took back the top spot in A.T. Kearney’s FDI Confidence Index.

What do these numbers mean to you?  Are you an investor looking to expand your operations in the United States?  Are you seeking to attract more investment to your town, city, county or state?  How can SelectUSA assist you?  

Big Data is Big Business for Commerce

Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms (center) along with Erie Meyer, Joel Gurin, Waldo Jaquith, and Daniel Castro at the Center for Data Innovation hosted “The Economic Benefits of Open Data” event

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Big Data and Open Data are all the rage these days. However, Commerce was into Big Data before Big Data was cool. As far back as 1790, we began collecting data on patents in the U.S. and the Census Bureau conducted the first Decennial Census the same year. In 1870, the National Weather Service was created – which today is one of the biggest data producing agencies around.

Back then, our economy was based largely on agriculture. Over the years, our economy evolved through the industrial revolution, later giving rise to the strong service sector. Today, we are at the nascent stages of the next era in our economic growth, the information age. On a daily basis, there is an ever-increasing amount of data becoming available, and the demand for data is increasing exponentially. We have before us both great opportunity and fascinating challenges to understand how best to harness this national resource. This is a key focus of Commerce’s Open for Business Agenda.

You may not know it, but the Department of Commerce is home to many agencies that are your primary source for data that you likely use every day.

For example:

  • How many people live in the U.S. or in your hometown? You might know the Census Bureau is the authority on population, but did you know the Census Bureau’s data goes well beyond just population? Census also produces huge volumes of data on our economy, demographics, and fascinatingly insightful data describing our communities – or, if you are a business, your customers.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis is a little know agency that produces key economic data and many of the closely watched economic indicators that move markets, drive investment decisions and guide economic policy. Do you know which industries are the leading sources of income in your community, or to your customers? BEA data can tell you.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is your primary source for weather, ocean and climate data – they are collecting data every minute of every day from land, sea, and even spaced-based sensors. When you hear the local forecast or hear about severe weather warning, that is NOAA data informing you about your environment in real time.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, locally known as NIST, is our nation’s authority on broad swaths of scientific, cyber, and physical data – including, officially, what time it is.
  • We also have data on patents going back more than 200 years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is a gold mine of inspiration for innovation.
  • Other agencies in Commerce provide data on economic development, minority businesses, trade, and telecommunications and the Internet.

On any given day, the Department will generate in excess of 20 terabytes of data, and sometimes much more. Yet, we think we can do more with this resource. We want to take every step we can to open access to it to the entrepreneurs and innovators of America, as we are pretty convinced that there is huge unmet value and potential. We understand that a huge part of the value of data is when it is not seen alone, but as part of a rich tapestry of information. We believe that there is great opportunity to solve problems, innovate new businesses, and improve data-driven decision-making, and we are committed to that path.

That is why I was so glad to be a part of today’s launch of the Open Data 500 Project, housed out of the GovLab at NYU. This exciting project has verified what we were certain must be true: That hundreds of American companies are using Commerce data every day to innovate and deliver important goods and services to their customers.