Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration
Visits to China, Russia Highlight Trade Ties
U.S. trade relations with China and Russia were the focus of two trips made by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke in July.
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|On July 17 in Shanghai, China, U.S. and Chinese officials participated in groundbreaking ceremonies for the U.S. pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. L to R: U.S. Consul General Beatrice Camp, U.S. Pavilion Commissioner General Jose H. Villarreal, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Shanghai Executive Vice Mayor Yang Xiong, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Ma Xiuhong, and Shanghai Expo Bureau Director General Hong Hao. (photo courtesy of U.S. Consulate General, Shanghai)
On July 6–8, Locke was in Moscow, Russia, where he was the only Cabinet member to accompany President Barack Obama at the U.S.–Russia Summit. It was announced at the summit that Locke would co-chair a working group on business development and economic relations with Russian Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina, as part of a new U.S.-Russia bilateral presidential commission.
In remarks made at the summit, Locke urged continued Russian integration into the world economy. “We support Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization and encourage Russia to pursue opportunities to increase its bilateral trade and investment with the United States as well as other countries.”
Locke later travelled to China July 14–17, together with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Chris Lu, White House Cabinet secretary. The purpose of the joint visit was to highlight the potential for cooperation between China and the United States in the clean energy sector. Locke met with senior Chinese leaders, including Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, State Councillor Liu Yandong, Zhang Ping, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, and Chen Deming, minister of commerce. Their discussions focused on potential areas of cooperation in clean energy and climate change and other trade matters between the two countries, including the need to avoid protectionism and efforts to stimulate domestic demand.
On July 17, Locke travelled to Shanghai to participate in groundbreaking ceremonies for construction of the U.S. pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. He also had the opportunity to witness Walmart’s announcement on July 16 in Beijing of a $2 million pledge toward the construction of the pavilion.
Third Americas Competitiveness Forum to Take Place September 27–29 in Santiago, Chile
The Chilean Ministry of Economy will convene the third Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) on September 27–29, 2009, in Santiago, Chile. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke will travel to Chile with other department officials to participate in the forum. In addition to Locke, other participants will include Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil; Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile; and Leonel Fernández, president of the Dominican Republic.
In its two previous sessions, both held in Atlanta, Georgia (see April 2008 issue of International Trade Update), the ACF offered a unique opportunity for leaders from the private sector, government, and academia to collectively discuss and share ways to improve global competitiveness and to raise the standard of living for the people of the Western Hemisphere. Each conference had about 1,000 participants from across the hemisphere.
ACF 2009 will build on the momentum of the two previous conferences. This year, the main themes will be competitiveness in times of financial crisis, innovation, human capital development, and social responsibility and trade.
Besides facilitating an interactive discussion between the public and private sectors on the drivers and impediments to economic growth, ACF 2009 will also provide interested businesses with an opportunity to learn more about trade and investment opportunities in the region.
For more information on ACF 2009, or to register to attend, visit www.competitivenessforum.org or contact Alysia Wilson of the International Trade Administration, tel.: (202) 482-5327; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fourth U.S.–Brazil CEO Forum Meets
The U.S.–Brazil CEO Forum held its fourth meeting in Washington, D.C., on July 20–21, 2009. The forum, which consists of 20 chief executive officers (CEOs) from Brazil and the United States, meets twice a year in Brazil or the United States to make recommendations to both governments on ways to strengthen the U.S.–Brazil economic relationship. The July meeting was cochaired by Gary Locke, secretary of commerce, and Michael Froman, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.
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|Opening session of the fourth U.S.–Brazil CEO Forum, which was held in Washington, D.C., July 20–21, 2009. Attendees included (L to R): Michael Froman, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs; Gary Locke, secretary of commerce; Dilma Rousseff, chief of staff to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; and Miguel Jorge, Brazilian minister of development, industry, and foreign trade. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
“The United States enjoys a strong commercial relationship with Brazil, representing nearly $63 billion in bilateral trade in 2008,” said Locke. “The CEO Forum provides recommendations to the two governments to strengthen our bilateral commercial relationship.”
During the two days, participants discussed a number of critical business issues, including the negotiation of a bilateral tax treaty and a bilateral investment treaty, customs facilitation, and energy and infrastructure issues. The forum’s recommendations have advanced discussions between Brazil and the United States on other important issues, such as visas, customs procedures, education, and infrastructure reforms.
In 2008, U.S. exports to Brazil were $32.3 billion, which is an increase of 34 percent over 2007. Brazil is the ninth-largest export market for the United States.
House Subcommittees Hear about Africa Trade
On June 24, 2009, Holly Vineyard, deputy assistant secretary for Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, testified before a joint meeting of two subcommittees of the House of Representatives about the state of U.S. trade relations with sub-Saharan Africa.
“With the continued growth of representative governments, and the recovery from several lengthy conflicts, much of sub-Saharan Africa is poised to see more robust economic growth and an improvement in living standards in the years ahead,” said Vineyard. “Many sub-Saharan African countries are becoming, or have the potential to become, key emerging markets for U.S. companies.”
U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa is small when compared to trade with larger, more developed countries and regions. But it has been growing rapidly in recent years. From 2001 to 2008, total two-way trade between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States more than tripled to $104.5 billion.
One reason for this increased trade has been the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2000, which provides duty-free access to the U.S. market. The eighth annual AGOA forum, which will bring together African and U.S. trade ministers, is scheduled to be held August 4–6, 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya.
“This dynamic event will set the stage for active discussion focusing on the linkages between investment and economic growth, as well as providing African countries with the ability to take advantage of trade opportunities in AGOA and elsewhere,” noted Vineyard.
More information on U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa can be found in a recent report published by the International Trade Administration’s Office of Africa, “U.S.–African Trade Profile.” It is available on the AGOA Web site at www.agoa.gov. The full text of the testimony is available on the International Trade Administration’s Web site.
Contributors to this section include Lorrie Fussell, Alicia Robinson, Holly Vineyard, and Alysia Wilson of the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit.
Recently Posted on the ITA Blog
• A Day in the Life of a Commercial Officer: Ricardo Palaez, commercial officer with the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, talked about the activities that fill his working day on his first overseas tour of duty in Taipei City, Taiwan: “The most exciting part of the day was the final event on my schedule. After several months of planning, long hours, and hard work, CS Taipei finally kicked off the first of three ‘America Month’ retail events promoting several hundred U.S. brands to Taiwan consumers.” (July 2)
• Learning the Ropes of Government: David Kincaid, presidential management fellow who recently finished his graduate studies and began work at the International Trade Administration, describes his transition to the world of government: “There was no course on TMs and IBPs, FSNs and SCOs, or how OSP works on PIPs for MAS, CS, MAC, ODUS, OCFO, and IA through WBTs developed by folks in OCIO! It’s true; the alphabet soup was at best daunting to learn.” (July 8)
• Sustainability 360: Mary Saunders, acting assistant secretary for manufacturing and services, wrote from Seattle, Washington, about participating in Sustainability 360: An Aerospace Supply Chain Event: “We just concluded our first Sustainability 360 event here in Seattle, and the experience was outstanding—lots of good, practical examples of how implementing sustainable manufacturing practices can reduce environmental impact and improve the bottom line for businesses.” (July 15)
To read the full text of these and other postings, visit the ITA Blog at http://blog.trade.gov.