Fact Sheet: Expanding the Commercial Service for a 21st Century Digital Economy

Mar112016

FACT SHEET
Friday, March 11, 2016

The U.S. Department of Commerce has made it a priority to ensure that all U.S. companies have access to the digital economy and can reach global markets. To further this goal Commerce, through the Commercial Service arm of the International Trade Administration, is piloting an expert network of “digital attaches” in its offices in U.S. embassies in key markets to help U.S. firms increase international market access, and overcome regulatory or policy challenges. 

The digital economy offers great opportunity, but challenges too. Governments around the world are increasingly pursuing protectionist policies that could restrict the free flow of information on the Internet. These rules, such as data localization requirements, present significant risks to the competitiveness of U.S. firms globally. For many digital economy and Internet companies, dealing with these potential regulatory and trade barriers, and advice on how best to enter new markets, is the kind of export assistance they really need.

As the U.S. Government’s leading advocate for business, the Commerce Department and the International Trade Administration specifically, has made defending U.S. digital commercial interests in global markets a top priority. ITA’s Commercial Service in U.S. Embassies overseas is already working closely with U.S. companies to overcome market barriers in the global digital economy. The “digital attaches” will build out and expand this work.

As part of this effort, the Commerce Department is making the following changes:

  • Assigned six Commercial Service officers, already stationed in ASEAN, Brazil, China, Japan, India and the EU, who will serve as digital trade officers. ITA currently has more than 128 commercial offices located in U.S. Embassies and Consulates in more than 75 countries focused on leveling the playing field for U.S. companies exporting abroad.
  • Digital attache responsibilities will include assistance in helping U.S. companies increase exports, access the global online marketplace, and navigate digital economy policy challenges.

While this program is initially being launched as a pilot project, it builds upon the numerous resources the Commerce Department currently has in place to help U.S. companies with the trade counseling, market intelligence, business matchmaking, and commercial diplomacy they need to connect with international  business opportunities.

These digital trade officers will be charged with assisting U.S. companies overseas through a number of official performance measures, including success in commercial diplomacy, trade barriers addressed, and the number of U.S. clients assisted. As part of these responsibilities, the officers will work with U.S. companies and officials in foreign markets.

This program will be led by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, working with bureaus across the Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the Department of State and our industry stakeholders. Digital officers will bring to bear the expertise offered across the Department, including NIST, NTIA and ITA. Their training will be coordinated through the ITA’s Office of Digital Initiatives, with assistance from agencies and bureaus across the Commerce Department. In parallel, the ITA’s eCommerce Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley will also help direct U.S. companies needing assistance to the relevant Digital Attaches in each market. Because of the increasing reach of digital technology, the officers will collaborate closely with other embassy staff involved in digital economy issues.

This initiative is part of Secretary’s Pritzker’s comprehensive effort to address 21st century trade barriers and help the digital economy to thrive. As part of this commitment the Department of Commerce convened a Digital Economy Leadership Team, with staff level working groups across the Department to address issues such as the free flow of information. This “digital attache” announcement is an element of the Department’s broader strategic agenda to promote the digital economy.  

The mission of ITA’s Commercial Service is to promote U.S. exports, market access for U.S. companies abroad and inward investment in to the U.S. The Department looks forward to partnering with the private sector in advancing the mission for the evolving digital economy.

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