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The Commerce Blog

U.S., Mongolia Commit to Expand Bilateral Commercial Relations

President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Foreign Minister Zandanshatar, Secretary Locke at signing ceremony

Locke applauds historic Boeing aircraft deal

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Mongolia’s President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj today announced agreements to expand cooperation on trade and economic issues, and support Mongolia’s aviation sector with technical assistance and training programs at a Blair House ceremony.

“Our trade relationship with Mongolia has deepened during the past several years,” Locke said. “We are pleased that U.S. exports to Mongolia have been increasing, and we look forward to continuing to work with President Elbegdorj and his government to strengthen our commercial ties.”

The Boeing Company also finalized a purchase agreement with MIAT Mongolian Airlines for one 767-300ER and two 737-800 aircraft valued at $245 million from The Boeing Company. This is the first direct purchase of Boeing aircraft by MIAT, and marks the first time in more than two decades that MIAT will extend its route network by purchasing Boeing airplanes instead of leasing them.

Locke and representatives from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) each signed agreements with Mongolian government and private sector officials promoting cooperation between the two nations.

Tariff Tool Demystifies U.S. Trade Agreements for Manufacturers

Guest blog by Justin Hoffmann, International Economist in the Office of Trade Policy Analysis.

Manufacturers who are looking to expand into new markets are often faced with myriad questions about tariffs and barriers to these new markets. Figuring out which products have what tariffs can be a very frustrating and time consuming process. That is why the International Trade Agency has developed a Free Trade Agreement Tariff Tool to help manufacturers quickly find the information they need.

For manufacturers, America’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners can be an attractive markets because these negotiated agreements eliminate tariffs, remove non-tariff barriers, and secure non-discriminatory treatment for U.S. goods and services.

While these agreements bring many benefits for manufacturers, they can be confusing. For example, in the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, the tariff schedules alone for that agreement go on for nearly a thousand pages. If a manufacturer is dedicated enough to slog through the pages to find out where his specific product is in the tariff schedule, he will learn, for example, that the tariff charged on his product before the agreement went into effect is 20 percent. Additionally, after some further digging around the agreement text, the exporter would also learn that the tariff on his product “shall be removed in ten equal annual stages beginning on the date this Agreement enters into force, and such goods shall be duty-free, effective January 1 of year ten”.

It is pretty clear that these lengthy documents are crafted by trade negotiators and lawyers and are really not written for U.S. manufacturers who are simply trying to export their goods to new markets.

The good news is that the FTA Tariff Tool provides this information instantly and almost effortlessly.

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FTA Tariff Tool Transcript

Bringing and Keeping Business Investment in America

SelectUSA logo

Guest blog by Gary Locke, U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Cross-posted at the White House blog.

Business investment in America creates and supports millions of jobs, while generating economic growth and opportunities in communities throughout the United States.

Today at the Business Round Table in Washington, D.C., we announced a new initiative – SelectUSA – the first-ever government-wide program to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States by both domestic and foreign companies.

America has the most appealing investment environment in the world, with the largest consumer market, an educated workforce, strong intellectual-property protections and open capital markets.

More than 5 million Americans are directly employed by foreign companies in the U.S., ranging from Japanese carmakers to British banks to Indian energy and industrial companies.

But at a time when competition for business investment is more intense than ever, the U.S. is the only developed economy in the world without a national-level investment program and advocacy program.

In recent years we have been losing ground in attracting and retaining business investment to better coordinated foreign competitors.

SelectUSA, established by Executive Order of the President, will leverage existing resources of the federal government to ramp up promotion of the U.S. as a prime investment destination to create jobs at home and to keep jobs from going overseas.

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Commerce Updates Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and Publishes Climate Adaptation Policy

NIST Solar Array

On June 3, the U.S. Department of Commerce updated its Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP), an 80-page roadmap to increasing its energy and environmental stewardship. The SSPP details the department’s current progress and plans for meeting targets in 8 key areas, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption to increasing on-site generation of renewable energy and recycling.

Highlights from 2010 include the completion of a 120 KW solar array to power the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Kauai, Hawaii WWVH radio station, which is projected to save nearly $60,000 per year; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s construction of two green buildings and plans for completion of four more; and completion of Commerce’s first ever inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the SSPP update Secretary Locke issued the department’s first ever climate change adaptation policy, which commits Commerce to considering climate change impacts when undertaking planning, setting priorities for scientific research and investigations, and making decisions regarding its resources, programs, policies, and operations.

The new policy also commits Commerce to developing and publishing a department-wide Climate Adaptation Plan by June 4, 2012, which will evaluate risks and vulnerabilities to climate change and define the department’s strategy for managing climate change impacts in both the short and long term.

Using Green Technology to Turn Carbon Dioxide into Cement (and Jobs)

Calera's process - Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation

In order to meet President Obama’s goal of out-innovating the world in the clean energy economy, the United States Patent and Trademark Office extended the Green Technology Pilot Program. Through this pilot, the USPTO expedites patent applications for any invention that will strongly contribute to improving environmental quality; the discovery or development of renewable energy sources; better use of existing energy resources, or reduction of greenhouse gases. Since the pilot program began in December 2009, a total of 1,918 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants, and 328 patents have been issued.

Under this program, California-based Calera Corporation has been able to fast track twelve applications for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into green “reactive cements” that replace traditional “portland cement” commonly used in the construction of buildings.

The heart of the Calera process, referred to as Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation, combines carbon dioxide flue gas from power plants with the Earth’s natural waters and converts the gas into stable solid minerals similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants including metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals. These minerals can then be used to produce high reactive cements akin to portland cement without the negative environmental impacts derived from mining and processing. For those interested in more details, the USPTO's website has a more in-depth webpage about Calera and this process.

National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Holds Public Forum at Howard University

NACIE participants around table with Locke

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addressed a town hall-style public forum at Howard University’s School of Business in Washington, D.C. today as part of a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). In his remarks to students, faculty, administrators and business leaders, Locke praised the Council for its ongoing efforts to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship, and to help America win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building our economic competitors.

Locke thanked the Council for their recommendations and highlighted the importance of NACIE’s work in creating policies that support President Obama’s innovation agenda by improving America’s economic competitiveness and meeting the needs of America’s entrepreneurs.

 

First announced in 2009 and authorized in 2011 America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, the Council advises the Secretary of Commerce on key innovation and entrepreneurship issues and engages with the public and stakeholders to promote effective public policies and regulations.

U.S. Census Bureau Announces Half of U.S. Respondent Businesses Were Home-Based

Two women at a store counter

The Census Bureau today released new national-level statistics on business owners including owner’s age, education level, veteran status and primary function in the business; family-owned and home-based business status; types of customers and workers; and sources of financing for start-up, expansion or capital improvements.

The survey found that more than half (51.6 percent) of all businesses that responded to the 2007 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) were operated primarily from someone’s home in 2007. In addition, only 6.9 percent of these home-based businesses had $250,000 or more in receipts, while 57.1 percent of home-based businesses brought in less than $25,000. About 23.8 percent of employer respondent businesses and 62.9 percent of nonemployer respondent businesses were home-based.

“Most businesses are started by people who dig into their own pockets for at least some of their start-up capital,” said Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg. “This is true for both firms with employees and those without them. Furthermore, more than one in five (20.8 percent) of respondent businesses used no start-up capital at all.”       

The two data sets released today are from the 2007 Survey of Business Owners: Characteristics of Businesses: 2007 and Characteristics of Business Owners: 2007. All findings are for respondent firms only.

Numerous organizations such as the MBDA , the Small Business Administration, the National Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and others use these data to track the progress of minorities and women as entrepreneurs. Release  Estimates by Gender, Race and Veteran Status

Secretary Locke Joined President Obama For Jobs and Competitiveness Council Meeting In North Carolina

Chancellor Woodson talks with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

Earlier today, Secretary Locke joined President Obama and other senior administration officials for a meeting of the Jobs and Competitiveness Council in the Raleigh-Durham area. Prior to the President's arrival, Secretary Locke participated in one of the five Listening and Action sessions to engage with the local business community and solicit input on how the public and private sectors can partner to create opportunity and job creation for small businesses.

Other participants in the session, titled “Energy Innovation and Smartgrid,” include Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, Lewis Hay, III, Chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, Gary Kelly, Chairman, President, and CEO of Southwest Airlines, and Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation.

Enhancing Trade in Latin America: Opening Opportunities

Sanchez on podium

Guest blog b y Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Today I am honored to be speaking at the Association of American Chambers of Commerce at the Latin America Conference in Cartagena, Columbia. I shared with the hundreds of participants that the United States will continue its decades-long effort to increase economic integration throughout Latin America, including the passage and implementation of pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

Latin America is our fastest-growing export market. The United States exports three times as much to Latin America as we do to China. We enjoy significant bilateral trading relationships with most of the countries in the region, and exports to these countries will soon support more than two million U.S. jobs.

Currently, 84 percent of U.S. trade within Latin America is covered by free trade agreements. Passage and implementation of new trade agreements with Colombia and Panama is an Obama administration priority for 2011, and are expected to support tens of thousands of jobs in America.

President Obama has made his commitment to the free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia clear because he believes that the future of the United States is inextricably bound to the future of the people of the Americas.

Panama is one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, expanding 6.2 percent in 2010, with similar annual growth forecast through 2015. Exports of U.S. goods to Colombia are expected to increase by more than $1.1 billion once the agreement is fully implemented.

Initiatives such as Pathways to Prosperity and the Americas Competitiveness Forum – two important programs supported by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration – are critical to improving economic integration that will benefit every nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Trade between countries in the Western Hemisphere is important to all of us, supporting millions of jobs and bettering the lives of our people.

Manufacturers Receive Presidential Award For Their Export Efforts

APS Biogroup Manufacturing Facility

Guest Blog Post by Laura Barmby, the Program Officer for the President’s "E" Awards.  In this capacity, she coordinates the submission and review of applications for this Presidential Award, working with an inter-agency committee.

Last month, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez presented 27 U.S. companies, organizations, and institutions the President’s "E" Award for Exporting.  The "E" Award is the highest honor presented to exporters and acknowledges the significant contributions of the recipients in supporting U.S. exports.  This year marks 50 years since the establishment of the program by President Kennedy in 1961.
 
In honor of our nation’s manufacturers, I wanted to highlight for you a few of the companies that received the award this year that manufacture unique products.  What caught my attention was that this year we have three winners who took a product found in nature and improved it through a manufacturing process to make a great new product.

Here are a few things these companies have in common:

  • All take something from nature and make it into a product to support health and nutrition
  • All invest back into research and product development
  • All create jobs

Think about the jobs created by these companies:  farmers, scientists, assembly and manufacturing support, shipping, distribution, marketing.

If you have a product or service that you would like to export, visit Trade.gov to find out how to contact your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center.  With 108 centers nationwide, exporting help is right around the corner!