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Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration

 

Promoting Opportunities for U.S. Firms in Mongolia’s Mining and Energy Sectors

More than 150 U.S. and Mongolian business and government representatives attended the fourth U.S.–Mongolia Business Forum, which was hosted by the Department of Commerce on June 9, 2009. The forum provided valuable information on commercial opportunities in Mongolia, exposed U.S. companies to business prospects in Mongolia’s mining and energy sectors, and helped to facilitate commercial partnerships between U.S. and Mongolian firms.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) organized the event with Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency, and the Trade and Development Bank, as well as the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. The forum focused on the energy sector, with highlights on coal mining and power production, renewable energy, oil, gas, and nuclear energy.

Speakers included senior U.S. and Mongolian government officials and business executives, such as Rick Wade, senior adviser to the U.S. secretary of commerce; Sukhbaatar Batbold, minister of foreign affairs and trade of Mongolia; Michelle O’Neill, acting under secretary of ITA; and Baldanjav Ariunsan, vice minister of mineral resources and energy of Mongolia.

ITA also organized site visits for the Mongolian delegation in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; and Denver, Colorado, to meet with private-sector mining and energy companies and U.S. government agencies.

For more information on business opportunities in Mongolia, contact Zhen Gong-Cross at zhen.gongcross@mail.doc.gov.

 

Travel and Tourism Board Identifies Critical Issues

At a meeting on June 9, 2009, the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) presented Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke with a draft policy review that outlines industry issues that the board identified as critical to the future health of the U.S. travel and tourism industry. The issues include airport congestion and infrastructure, travel facilitation, and economic sustainability.

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Members of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board met with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke (center) in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 2009, to discuss critical issues that the travel and tourism industry faces. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
Members of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board met with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke (center) in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 2009, to discuss critical issues that the travel and tourism industry faces. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

 

“We need to encourage more travel within the United States as well as international travel,” said Locke after the board’s presentation. “It’s important for people to understand the history of the United States, the culture, and the natural beauty of our country.”

The travel and tourism industry is the largest services-sector export industry in the United States, and it is one of the nation’s largest employers. In 48 states and the District of Columbia, the industry ranks among the top 10 largest employers, and 8.3 million U.S. jobs are related to travel and tourism.

The TTAB serves as the advisory body to the secretary of commerce on matters relating to the industry in the United States. It advises the secretary on government policies and programs, offers counsel on current and emerging issues, and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related problems.

The board was originally chartered in 2003 and was recently rechartered in 2007. It consists of up to 15 members who represent travel and tourism organizations across a broad range of products and services, company sizes, and geographic locations. For more information about the TTAB, including meeting transcripts, white papers, and its membership roster, visit its Web site.

 

Intellectual Property Rights Protection and Enforcement Addressed in Georgia Talks

On June 1–4, 2009, a U.S. delegation led by Department of Commerce officials visited the Republic of Georgia. Protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) were the key focus of the series of meetings and talks. The delegation included representatives from the International Trade Administration, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and National Association of Beverage Importers.

The four-day visit was part of a U.S. government initiative to promote and support the Georgian wine industry. It fulfills promises made by the United States to assist economic recovery in Georgia following the Russian invasion of 2008. (See the September–October 2008 issue of International Trade Update.)

Wine is Georgia’s second-largest export. But in 2006, the country lost its largest wine export market when Russia imposed a trade embargo. Since then, Georgian wine producers have struggled to develop new markets elsewhere, and the industry has been bedeviled by many challenges, such as counterfeit products and the complexities of promoting wine to international markets.

During the visit, the USPTO briefed 30 Georgian wine producers on how to acquire trademark protection in the United States. They were also given information on how to clear a trademark before using and applying for protection to better avoid future instances of trademark infringement. (Similar counseling is available to U.S. exporters: for information, go to www.stopfakes.gov.)

The U.S. delegation also met with officials of the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economic Development to discuss the role of the U.S. trademark system in protecting the names and designations of wines. They also met with representatives of Sakpatenti, Georgia’s National Intellectual Property Center, to discuss future cooperation between the USPTO and the organization.

 

Contributors to this section include Zhen Gong-Cross and Ellen House of the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit, Julie Heizer of the International Trade Administration’s Manufacturing and Services unit, and John D. Rodriguez of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Recent Posts to the ITA Blog

Paris Air Show: Daniel Harris, senior commercial officer in Paris, France, wrote, “A highlight for me was the opening of the U.S. pavilion, where I had the honor to introduce several distinguished Americans, especially Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the president’s representative to the Paris Air Show.” (June 19)

Waste Expo 2009: Vidya Kori, project officer in the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, noted, “I am writing from the bustling International Business Center located at Waste Expo 2009, North America’s largest trade show serving the solid waste and recycling industries. Here in Las Vegas, Nevada, more than 500 exhibitors are showcasing the latest equipment and technologies the industry has to offer.” (June 18)

Trade Mission to Chile and Peru: Walter Bastian, deputy assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere, wrote, “While mission members were busy developing new clients and pursuing commercial opportunities, I met with government officials to pursue issues that would further enhance the competitiveness of U.S. firms in these markets. (June 10)

To read the full text of these and other postings, visit the ITA Blog at http://blog.trade.gov.