Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration
Environmental Technology Trade and Issues Are Focus of Secretarial Visits to South Korea and China
Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, accompanied by Under Secretary for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin, visited South Korea and China on December 11–15, 2006, to promote trade ties and to expand access for U.S. exports in the two countries.
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Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez at the signing of a $550 million agreement between GE Aviation and Shanghai Airlines in Beijing this past December 13, while in China to participate in the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. Pictured from left to right are: Andy Solem, CEO and president of GE Infrastructure, China Region; Mike Wilking, president of GE Aviation, China Region; Secretary Gutierrez; Yi Xiaozhun, Chinese vice minister of commerce; Shao Xiaoyun, vice president of Shanghai Airlines; and Li Ling, general manager of planning department, Shanghai Airlines.
In South Korea, Gutierrez met with government officials and spoke to the American Chamber of Commerce on the state of U.S.–South Korean bilateral trade and the importance of ongoing South Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement negotiations. He also participated with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman in a clean energy event that highlighted technology produced by Woodward Governor Company of Fort Collins, Colorado. The technology is being used on Seoul city buses.
"The Seoul bus system is evidence that U.S. technology can play a critical role in achieving a cleaner environment throughout the world," said Gutierrez. "The clean air technology … [that] is being used on Korean buses is an excellent example of the global economy in action and symbolizes how nations can work together to protect the environment."
In China, the secretary participated in the U.S.–China Strategic Economic Dialogue led by Henry M. Paulson Jr., secretary of the treasury. The two-day event, held December 13 and 14, 2006, in Beijing, brought together a U.S. delegation of cabinet officials and agency heads to discuss a number of trade issues with their Chinese counterparts.
While in Beijing, Gutierrez also took part in ceremonies that marked the signing of several deals by U.S. companies to expand their access within China. Those deals included agreements between Chinese companies and The Home Depot, GE Aviation, VeriSign, and Oshkosh Truck Company.
Small Business Program Helps Protect U.S. Intellectual Property
A program to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in gaining greater knowledge of how to protect their intellectual property rights (IPR) was launched recently by the U.S. Department of Commerce with the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law and the Coalition against Counterfeiting and Piracy.
The International Intellectual Property Rights Advisory Program offers SMEs a free one-hour consultation with a volunteer attorney who is knowledgeable in both IPR issues and the legal system in one of the six countries covered by the program: Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Russia, and Thailand. By means of this consultation, SMEs can begin to learn how to protect and enforce their intellectual property, such as trademarks, patents, or copyrights, in the country where they are doing business.
Research conducted in 2005 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that 85 percent of exporting SMEs failed to recognize that their U.S. patents and trademarks did not protect them internationally. Thus, SMEs are particularly vulnerable to IPR infringement. As SMEs expand their presence in international markets, availing themselves of legal expertise and local IPR protection is critical to prevent potential infringement of their IPR.
This new program uses a model similar to one launched in November 2005, the China IPR Advisory Program. Because of the success of that program, which was limited to IPR issues in China, the International IPR Advisory Program was conceived to provide similar information regarding a wider range of countries.
For more information about the program, or to apply to make use of its services, visit the program’s Web site. For general information about IPR protection overseas, visit the StopFakes Web site.
International Visitation up 8 Percent
According to the latest figures released by the Commerce Department on international visits to the United States, 3.6 million international visitors traveled to the United States in October 2006, an increase of 8 percent over October 2005. During their stays, international visitors spent more than $9 billion (in receipts and passenger fares), an increase of 4 percent from the previous year’s levels. Visitation for the first 10 months of 2006 was up 5 percent compared with 2005, and year-to-date spending was up 4 percent.
Travel and tourism represent the top services export for the United States, and they have produced a travel balance of trade surplus since 1989.
Among other highlights of the October 2006 data were the following:
- Overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico) were up 2 percent for October because of solid growth from overseas inbound markets other than the top three (Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom). The majority of the growth came from overseas markets requiring U.S. visas.
- Canadian visitation was up 9 percent for October and 7 percent for the year.
- Arrivals from Mexico were up 29 percent for the year. Land crossings accounted for a majority of this increase. Air arrivals were up 3 percent for October and 2 percent for the year.
For more information on international travel to the United States, including the top markets and regional data, visit the Web site of the International Trade Administration’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.
Vietnam Enters WTO; Commerce Department to Monitor Textile Trade
Vietnam became the 150th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 11, 2007. Congress approved Permanent Normal Trade Relations status with Vietnam on December 9, 2006, and President George W. Bush signed the legislation on December 20, 2006. This status allows the United States to apply WTO rules and procedures to its trade with Vietnam, including strong protections against prohibited subsidies and dumping.
U.S. manufacturers will enjoy reduced tariffs of 15 percent or less on more than 94 percent of industrial and consumer goods, as well as tariffs from 0 to 5 percent in several key sectors, including construction equipment, pharmaceuticals, and aircraft and aircraft engines. Vietnam has agreed to harmonize tariffs on chemicals, thereby eliminating tariffs on more than 80 percent of chemical products. Vietnam has also agreed to join the Information Technology Agreement that eliminates tariffs on a wide range of products, including computers, cell phones, and modems. Vietnam’s accession to the WTO will also remove significant non-tariff barriers, such as those effectively prohibiting U.S. exports of large motorcycles.
The United States and Vietnam have already enjoyed a growing trade relationship since the U.S.–Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement came into force in December 2001. Two-way trade between the two countries increased more than fivefold, from $1.5 billion in 2001 to $7.8 billion in 2005.
Vietnam’s entry into the WTO will bring potential benefits to U.S. service suppliers, who will enjoy improved market access in many significant sectors, including telecommunications, financial services, distribution, and energy services. Other provisions related to WTO accession will enhance export opportunities through greater transparency and the protection of intellectual property.
With Vietnam’s accession to the WTO, the country has committed to eliminate all prohibited textile and apparel by the dates of accession and to phase out other WTO-inconsistent subsidies within five years of accession. The Department of Commerce’s Import Administration will set up a textile and apparel import monitoring system to oversee U.S. imports of those products in connection with the administration of U.S. trade laws and WTO rules. The program begins on Vietnam’s accession and will expire at the end of the current U.S. administration on January 19, 2009. For more information, visit Import Administration's Web site.