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Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration

Business Development Mission to Vietnam Set for November

Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez will lead the first-ever cabinet-level business development mission to Vietnam on November 4–7, 2007. “Vietnam is an exciting new market that is providing opportunities for American businesses, manufacturers, and service providers,” said Gutierrez. “I look forward to leading a delegation of U.S. businesses to Vietnam so our companies can explore export opportunities for American goods and services that create higher-paying American jobs here at home.”

With a gross domestic product of $61 billion and a young population of 84 million, Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. Since the signing of the U.S.–Vietnam bilateral trade agreement in 2001, two-way trade in goods has increased from about $1.5 billion to $9.7 billion. In 2006, total U.S. merchandise exports to Vietnam were $1.1 billion. From January through May 2007, U.S. exports have grown 65.1 percent over the same period last year.

The November mission will help U.S. companies develop business and government contacts, solidify business strategies, and obtain market access information. It will also provide a platform for addressing policy and commercial issues (such as transparency, rule of law, intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, and trading and distribution rights) that U.S. companies face in the Vietnamese market.

The delegation will comprise 20 to 30 U.S. firms, representing a cross-section of industries with commercial interests in Vietnam. Participating companies will have the opportunity to benefit from a series of high-level meetings with Vietnamese government officials, along with customized business-to-business meetings.

For more information about the mission, or to apply to participate, visit the mission’s Web site at or contact the Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Liaison at (202) 482-1360. Applications must be received by September 12, 2007.

Trade, Open Skies Agreements Signal Greater U.S.–Georgia Cooperation

Commercial cooperation between the Republic of Georgia and the United States took an important step forward with the recent signing of two agreements between the two countries. The agreements were signed during a June 2007 visit to Washington, D.C., by a Georgian delegation led by Giorgi Arveladze, minister of economic development.

On June 20, the two countries signed a trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) that established a TIFA council, which will serve as the foundation for bilateral dialogue on trade issues. The council held its first meeting the following day, during which the members of the Georgian delegation gave an update on their country’s continuing efforts to institute economic reform and to attract investment. The U.S. delegation, which included a representative from the Department of Commerce, noted in its response that increased attention by Georgian authorities to the protection of intellectual property rights, the creation of an independent judiciary, and the implementation of transparent government procurement procedures would create incentives for investment in Georgia.

Also on June 21, Georgia and the United States signed an open skies bilateral air services agreement. The agreement removes artificial, government-imposed constraints on airlines’ commercial activities and allows carriers to make market decisions that are based on demand and corporate strategy. It places no limits on the frequency of service, the number of airlines in the market, or the type of aircraft used (whether passenger or all-cargo, or scheduled or charter). Under the agreement’s terms, carriers will be free to set prices and to make commercial arrangements, such as for code-sharing services, with other airlines and surface transportation providers. The agreement will go into effect after both countries have completed their respective internal review and approval procedures.

For more information on the U.S.–Georgia open skies bilateral air sevices agreement, visit the State Department's Web site.

Agreement with Japan Will Benefit U.S. Telecommunications Equipment Manufacturers

On June 19, 2007, Japan’s parliament passed legislation to approve a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with the United States that provides for conformity assessment of telecommunications equipment. The MRA, which was signed in Washington, D.C., on February 16, 2007, will reduce expenses and shorten the approval processing times for U.S. makers of telecommunications and radio equipment that export their products to Japan.

ITA’s Office of Technology and Electronic Commerce played a crucial role in the negotiating team, which was led by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and included staff members from the Federal Communications Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The negotiations were held over a two-year period in Tokyo and Washington, D.C., with a view toward establishing a streamlined procedure that would benefit industry.

In 2006, Japan exported $1.4 billion of telecommunications equipment to the United States, while U.S. suppliers exported $833 million of telecommunications equipment to Japan.

Under the terms of the agreement, designated U.S.–based conformity assessment bodies (CABs) can conduct product approvals in accordance with Japan’s technical requirements. This change will be particularly helpful to small and medium-sized enterprises, which may not have a presence in the export market, but whose innovative technology is in high demand. Wireless devices and wireless networking equipment in particular tend to have more burdensome technical requirements, and those manufacturers will be able to take advantage of faster approvals on applications.

Independent certification bodies for telecommunications equipment can compete to be providers of conformity assessment services. Under the agreement, a product does not have to be manufactured by a U.S. company to be approved for export to Japan by a designated CAB, but the CAB must be located in the United States.

The agreement will enter into force in late 2007, after both countries have completed their internal preparations and have exchanged diplomatic notes. A fact sheet on the MRA is available on the Web.