Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration
ITA Joins in Haiti Relief Efforts
The Department of Commerce and several of its bureaus, including the International Trade Administration, are participating with other federal departments in a unified, governmentwide response to reconstruction and stabilization efforts in Haiti. These efforts come in response to a directive from President Barack Obama, who on January 14, 2010, designated the acting director of the U.S. Agency for International development, Dr. Rajiv Shah, to coordinate U.S. aid to Haiti.
“I’ve made it clear to my national security team that this has to be a top priority across agencies,” said Obama at a meeting with members of Congress on January 14, “making sure that we can get [into Haiti] as quickly as possible to engage in search and rescue and to provide immediate medical attention, and then long-term help with the recovery.”
The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, wrought extensive damage to a country already hobbled by poverty and a weak civil structure. Once basic emergency aid channels are established, Haiti faces a long period of recovery to reestablish its economy and establish the rule of law.
The International Trade Administration will initially be assisting reconstruction by developing public-private partnerships to meet immediate needs. Later efforts will involve work that will help build economic security in Haiti, through such initiatives as creating a clearinghouse for contracting information, organizing a rebuilding and investment conference, and taking other similar steps to facilitate trade and investment between Haiti and the United States.
The Commerce Department’s Haitian relief efforts are being coordinated by the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization. This office works with the Civilian Response Corps, an interagency body led by the Department of State, that brings together people—including military, civilians, and federal employees—possessing expertise necessary in a transition from crisis, including: policing and rule of law, infrastructure development, economic stabilization, national and local governance, agriculture, and the provision of basic services. For more information, contact Merriam Mashatt at email@example.com or Justin Sloan at justin.sloan@trade .gov.
U.S. Tourism Numbers, International Arrivals, Showed Slight Increases in Late 2009
The total number of international visitors coming to the United States showed a slight increase this past fall, posting a gain of 1 percent in October 2009 over comparable data for 2008, according to figures recently released by the International Trade Administration’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI). But the signs of the economic recession were amply reflected by year-to-date figures for visitation in 2009, which showed an overall decline of 7 percent.
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|Passengers at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Recent figures showed a slight increase in the number of international visitors coming to the United States in late 2009. (iStock)
Travel and tourism is the leading services export for the United States. In 2008, the industry generated $142 billion in sales and supported about 8.6 million jobs.
In October 2009, 4.05 million international visitors traveled to the United States versus 4.03 million in October 2008. These visitors spent $10.3 billion (13 percent less than in October 2008).
Year-to-date visitation figures, while impressive, represented a downturn from 2008, with 40 million visitors from January–October 2009 (down from 43 million in 2008, a decrease of 7 percent), spending $100.9 billion (down from $119.5 billion in 2008, a decrease of nearly 16 percent).
Of the top 20 countries in October 2009, 13 posted increases in visitation to the United States, with six of them registering double-digit increases: Australia (33 percent); Brazil (34 percent); the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong (16 percent); Colombia (13 percent); South Korea (11 percent); and Venezuela (13 percent).
OTTI collects, analyzes, and disseminates international travel and tourism statistics for the United States, basing its “arrival” numbers on monthly data received from the Department of Homeland Security and spending data received from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Monthly data are normally available within 60 days of the end of each travel month. Traveler trip characteristics and demographics are collected monthly via the Survey of International Air Travelers and are released annually. To view the office’s international visitation data, including a business and pleasure arrivals rate-of-change analysis and more detailed regional and country analyses, visit www.tinet.ita.doc.gov.
New Assistant Secretaries for Two ITA Units Confirmed by Senate
Assistant secretaries for two of the International Trade Administration’s four operating units were confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 12, 2010. Both were nominated by President Barack Obama this past fall.
Nicole Lamb-Hale, the new assistant secretary for manufacturing and services, will head the Manufacturing and Services (MAS) unit of ITA. With a staff of 230, MAS works to increase U.S. global competitiveness and to connect U.S. industry, particularly the manufacturing sector, to the resources and tools available in the federal government to help support the creation of sustainable, highly skilled jobs.
“Having spent much of my life living and working in Detroit, I have witnessed the impact of manufacturing job losses on every sector of the community. I am eager to bring together experts from both the public and private sectors to develop solutions to the issues faced by U.S. industry,” said Lamb-Hale.
Lamb-Hale most recently served as the deputy general counsel for the Department of Commerce. Prior to joining the Obama administration, she was the managing partner of the Detroit office of the law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP, where she specialized in business restructuring in the manufacturing sector.
Suresh Kumar, the new assistant secretary for trade promotion and director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, will be responsible for overseeing a network of more than 100 domestic export assistance centers as well commercial staff in more than 70 overseas posts, principally in U.S. embassies. These offices offer hands-on assistance to U.S. firms engaged in exporting.
“Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States,” noted Kumar. “We must encourage and support U.S. companies, especially small businesses, to export goods and services. International trade is a proven path to global prosperity. The current economic climate makes it even more compelling to prioritize and pursue this course.”
Kumar was most recently president and managing partner of KaiZen Innovation, a management advisory firm. He also served as special advisor to the Clinton Foundation, where he worked with governments in Sub-Saharan Africa and corporate officials to establish private-public partnerships to stimulate economic development in the region. Kumar previously led Johnson and Johnson’s Worldwide Consumer Pharmaceuticals business and was vice president of consumer products for Latin America and Asia at Warner Lambert/Pfizer.
Trade Mission to Libya Looks to Open New Opportunities for U.S. Firms
A trade mission to Libya, led by Nicole Lamb-Hale, the new assistant secretary of commerce for manufacturing and services, brought 25 U.S. companies to the capital city, Tripoli, February 20–22. The mission was the first official visit by a U.S. trade delegation since the lifting of sanctions. Full diplomatic relations with between Libya and the United States were reestablished in 2008.
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|In Tripoli, Libya (L to R): Issa Babba, executive director of the Libya Business Council; Nicole Lamb-Hale, assistant secretary of commerce for manufacturing and services; and David Hamod, president of the National U.S.–Arab Chamber of Commerce. Lamb-Hale led a trade mission of 25 U.S. companies to the Libyan capital February 20–22. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
“All around us, we sense the opportunities for U.S. companies to extend their products and services here," said Lamb-Hale. "This emerging market has huge potential, and the [Libyan] government has tremendous liquid capital to fund and support programs and partnerships with U.S. businesses.”
The delegation included representatives of 25 U.S. companies, coming from a wide variety of sectors, including construction, engineering, telecommunications, education, and transportation. They included a mix of large and small firms, among them Bechtel International, Harley Davidson, Motorola, Northrup Grumman, Pratt and Whitney Power Systems, and Raytheon International.
During the visit, officials on both sides discussed finalizing a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, an important first step in formalizing the bilateral commercial relationship between the United States and Libya.
Libya’s economy, while largely tied to the fortunes of the petroleum industry, has been growing at more than 5 percent per year recently. Gross domestic product in 2009 was estimated at $92.3 billion. The Libyan government has been seeking to rebuild infrastructure after years of underinvestment during the economic embargo, and has budgeted more than $80 billion for major projects relating to housing, highways, railways, telecommunications, and irrigation.
For more information on the Libyan market, visit the Middle East and North Africa Business Information Center at www.export.gov/middleeast.
Contributors to this section include Nathan Mason and Justin Sloan of the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit, Richard Champley of the International Trade Administration’s Manufacturing and Services unit, and Jessica Arnold of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.