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Cement Agreement with Mexico Resolves Long-Standing Trade Dispute

Effective on April 3, 2006, a 16-year dispute over a U.S. antidumping duty order on imports of gray portland cement from Mexico ended. It was resolved on March 6, when U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez joined U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Sergio Garcia de Alba to sign the U.S.–Mexico Agreement on Cement. "This agreement addresses the concerns of producers and consumers on both sides of the border," said Secretary Gutierrez at the signing. "The agreement contains provisions that will help increase access to the Mexican market for U.S. cement producers, and it also ensures that our Gulf Coast communities will have the resources necessary to rebuild. This agreement demonstrates that we have the will and the means to resolve difficult disputes with our NAFTA partners."

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, Under Secretary for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin, Mexico's Secretary of Economy Sergio Garcia de Alba, Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza, and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman at the signing of the U.S.–Mexico cement agreement at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 2006.
Left to Right: U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, Under Secretary for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin, Mexico's Secretary of Economy Sergio Garcia de Alba, Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza, and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman at the signing of the U.S.–Mexico cement agreement at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 2006. The agreement resolved the 16-year dispute over an antidumping duty order on gray portland cement from Mexico. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

The agreement settles all litigation regarding outstanding claims for duties before U.S. and international courts, and it divides the deposits of estimated antidumping duties between the parties. It also establishes a limit of 3 million metric tons of Mexican cement to enter the United States at an antidumping duty rate of $3 per metric ton, and it allows for an increase in the event of disasters. The agreement also contains elements for mutual trade liberalization, including provisions to help increase access for U.S. producers to the Mexican market. If the terms of the agreement are adhered to during its three-year period, the agreement will be terminated and the antidumping duty order will be revoked.

For more information about the U.S.–Mexico Agreement on Cement, including links to a fact sheet and the full text of the agreement, visit the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs’ Web site.

$19 Billion in U.S. Exports Pass through Foreign Trade Zones, Says New Report

Foreign trade zones (FTZs) are the U.S. form of free trade zones. FTZs are licensed by the U. S. Department of Commerce’s Foreign-Trade Zones Board and operate under the supervision of the Customs Service. The board has just released its 66th annual report for fiscal year (FY) 2004. The report includes the dollar value of moved merchandise; a list of the 53 formal orders issued during that time; and the locations, addresses, and contact points of all zones under its jurisdiction. According to the board, from October 1, 2003, through September 30, 2004, there were 157 fully active FTZ projects. The value of all shipments into the zones totaled $305 billion, compared with $247 billion in FY 2003. Exports from facilities operating under FTZ procedures amounted to $19 billion. About 330,000 people were employed at some 2,700 firms that operated under FTZ status during the year. Copies of the report are available online. For information on the Foreign-Trade Zones Board, visit the board’s Web site.

Finding Federal Export Assistance Made Easy with New Edition of Export Programs Guide

For more than a decade, the Export Programs Guide has been the most comprehensive guide to federal programs that assist U.S. exporters. A completely updated 2006 edition has just been published. It continues that tradition with detailed descriptions of more than 100 programs offered by 19 different federal agencies. Those descriptions include export counseling programs, information on trade promotion events, export financing programs, sources of industry- and country-specific information and assistance, and information on export controls and licenses. Each entry in the guide includes a brief description, a contact name and telephone number, and a Web site and e-mail address. Among the valuable new information that can be found in this edition are listings of regionally focused programs, such as Asia Now, the China Business Information Center, and the Middle East Business Information Center, that provide exporters with a single point of access for information on regional trade events, business counseling, and market research specific to those regions. The two appendixes include a list of all 109 U.S. Export Assistance Centers located throughout the country, as well as contact information for the 19 federal agencies that are members of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee. Copies of the Export Programs Guide are available online. Printed copies can be ordered from the Superintendent of Documents.

Higher Sugar Costs Driving Relocation Decisions for U.S. Companies

According to a new report issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, “Employment Changes in U.S. Food Manufacturing: The Impact of Sugar Prices,” between 1997 and 2002, more than 10,000 jobs were lost at sugar-consuming companies, such as confectioneries. The study suggests that high sugar costs are a major factor in U.S. companies' decisions to relocate to other countries. "We are seeing U.S. jobs move to countries that don't have the competitive disadvantage of high sugar prices that we face in the United States," said Under Secretary for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin. "To compete and win in the world economy, we must lift the price burden for U.S. businesses that use sugar as a product ingredient."

According to the report, several problems exist for the sugar industry, including the following:

  • For every sugar growing and harvesting job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three confectionery-manufacturing jobs are lost.
  • For the confectionery industry in particular, evidence suggests that high U.S. sugar costs are a major factor in relocation decisions. In 2004, the price of U.S. refined sugar was 23.5 cents per pound compared to the world price of 10.9 per pound.
  • Many U.S. manufacturers of products containing sugar have closed or relocated to countries where sugar prices are less than half the U.S. price.

The full text of the report is available online.

Tourism Numbers Show Continued Growth in 2005

Tourism to the United States continued to grow in 2005, according to new figures released by the International Trade Administration’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. International travel and tourism exports—that is, travel-related tourism spending in the United States—reached a record level of $104.8 billion in 2005, surpassing the $103.1 billion mark set in 2000, which was the last full year before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This number represents an increase of $11.5 billion, or 12 percent, in travel exports over 2004. In addition, 2005 saw an increased number of visitors to the United States: from 46.1 million international visitors in 2004 to 49.4 million in 2005, which is an increase of 7 percent. "[The] data show that America remains one of the top destinations for international visitors," said Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez. "Collectively, these visitors are spending record levels during their stay, which helps employ more than 8 million Americans." In 2005, travel imports slowed with U.S. travelers spending $95.1 billion on travel-related goods and services abroad, which is a 6 percent increase over 2004. As a result, the U.S. travel and tourism industry finished the year with a $9.7 billion surplus. For more information, visit the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries’ Web site.

Tourism figures 2001-2005. This graphic is linked to a text version.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.

New Web Site Launched

On April 10, 2006, the International Trade Administration (ITA) unveiled its new Web site, This site is the first step in remaking the ITA’s Web presence. As part of the reorganization, ITA will review and evaluate all of its more than 100,000 documents and Web pages already published. “The goal of this change,” says Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade Michelle O’Neil, “is to simplify access to the vast amount of information and tools that the ITA makes available to its constituencies via the Web.”

While the transition is in progress, all Web pages will remain accessible at their current locations, and redirects will allow user links and bookmarks to remain valid.—the federal government’s multi-agency Web portal for export assistance—will remain the primary resource for businesses seeking export assistance and the main location of information published by the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. To see the new site, go to