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Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration

Businesses Hear How to Incorporate Climate Change into Their Business Planning

“Climate and Sustainability: U.S. Department of Commerce Services for the Business Community,” a conference held in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2009, gave industry representatives and government officials an opportunity to hear about how Department of Commerce programs and services can assist companies as they factor climate change into their business planning. Those programs and services are offered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), and the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

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Michelle O’Neill, acting under secretary for international trade, gave opening remarks at a conference on climate change and business planning that was held at the Department of Commerce on April 1, 2009. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
Michelle O’Neill, acting under secretary for international trade, gave opening remarks at a conference on climate change and business planning that was held at the Department of Commerce on April 1, 2009. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)


The one-day gathering attracted more than 90 participants, including representatives from Duke Energy, Caterpillar, Raytheon, Boeing, Honda, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Consumer Electronics Association.

Conference attendees heard from several government officials, including Michelle O’Neill, acting under secretary for international trade; Mary Saunders, ITA’s acting assistant secretary for manufacturing and services; and Jane Lubchenco, newly appointed NOAA administrator.

Sustainable manufacturing was the focus of one of the conference’s panels. The panel had presentations on the Department of Commerce’s Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative and Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Other sessions focused on NOAA’s climate services and presentations from companies already using NOAA science in their business planning.

In the “President’s Trade Policy Agenda,” President Obama called for “new policies to advance a cleaner environment, a stronger response to the challenge of climate change, and more sustainable natural resources and energy supplies.” Given the challenges of climate change, climate and sustainability will gain increasing prominence as part of ITA’s mission to create prosperity, to promote trade and investment, and to ensure fair trade in compliance with international trade laws and agreements.

For more information about the conference, contact ITA’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries at (202) 482-0359 or visit the “What’s New” section at



Guide to Safe Harbor Self-Certification Available

U.S. companies that are seeking to comply with the data protection directive of the European Union (EU) about safeguarding personal data transferred to the United States by self-certifying compliance to the U.S.–EU Safe Harbor Framework now have a basic handbook to follow, with the recent publication of Guide to Self Certification: U.S.–EU Safe Harbor Framework.

In 2000, the U.S.–EU Safe Harbor Framework was negotiated by the Department of Commerce and the European Commission to provide a way for U.S. companies to comply with the EU’s Directive on Data Protection, which went into effect in October 1998. (See the November 2007 issue of International Trade Update.) This directive prohibits the transfer of personal data to non-EU nations that fail to meet the European “adequacy” standard for privacy protection.

The framework is an important, cost-effective tool for U.S. companies to avoid interruptions in their business dealings with EU companies or enforcement action under European privacy laws. Self-certifying compliance to the framework will ensure EU organizations that a U.S. company is providing adequate privacy protection as defined by the EU directive.

The 59-page guide provides an outline of the most critical pieces of the U.S.–EU Safe Harbor Framework, including a sample application, a “Helpful Hints Guide” that explains how to complete the application, and answers to frequently asked questions.

The guide also contains a list of third-party dispute resolution providers. Under the terms of the framework’s self-certification process, organizations that are self-certifying must offer an independent recourse mechanism that can address unresolved complaints. This mechanism must be in place before self-certification.

To download a copy of the guide, or to learn more about the Department of Commerce’s Safe Harbor program, visit their Web site.


Steel Import Monitoring Extended to 2013

On March 18, 2009, the Department of Commerce issued a final rule extending the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system until March 21, 2013. The SIMA system provides statistical data on steel imports entering the United States seven weeks earlier than the information would otherwise be available to the public. Aggregate data collected from the licenses are made available to the public on a weekly basis following review by the department.

The SIMA system does not inhibit steel imports into the United States. The licensing system is automatic, Internet based, and fully compliant with World Trade Organization rules. Licenses are issued free of charge, usually within seconds of completing the application.

In preparing the final rules, the Department of Commerce considered public comments on the proposed extension. Twelve submissions were received from individual steel producers; the United Steelworkers of America; and various steel industry, consumer, and distributor trade groups. All of the comments supported the four-year extension and agreed that the SIMA system is a critical tool that helps the industry and all of the participants in the market to closely monitor steel imports.

The system has received high marks from users for its usefulness and outstanding customer service. It has also proven to be a valuable resource for both the U.S. government and its partners in multilateral forums, such as the North American Steel Trade Committee and the Steel Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For further information about the SIMA system, visit the SIMA Web site or contact Julie Al-Saadawi of the Import Administration; tel.: (202) 482-1930; e-mail:


Contributors to this section include Pamela Green, Ellen Bohon, and Damon C. Greer of the International Trade Administration’s Manufacturing and Services unit and Adrienne Waite of the Import Administration.