Washington, DC - With a staff of  more than 2,200 people, which includes our trade and industry specialists in Washington, DC, as well as Commercial Diplomats in 108 U.S. cities and over 75 markets, the International Trade Administration works every day to support American companies looking to export into new markets.

That commitment now includes our “How to Export” video series, which we launched last month and will continue through 2017. This six-part video series offers insights on how firms can plan market strategy, find foreign buyers, make the export sale, and secure payment. You can click here to find out more information about the video series.

But the benefits of trade extend far beyond greater sales and profits. As we enter the holiday season, it is a fitting time to reflect on how trade and investment can drive such important outcomes as securing the competitiveness of our workers, helping sustain our environment, and improving the lives of people throughout the world. So it is important to remember this point when discussing the services ITA provides to the American business community.

One example involves the connection between foreign direct investment (FDI) and workforce development.  U.S. subsidiaries of foreign businesses are an important source for workforce development in the country. Some of these firms are conducting apprenticeship programs to develop the skills necessary for American workers to succeed in high-demand careers. This dovetails into the important work of our SelectUSA program—our whole-of-government campaign to attract foreign direct investment.  Every dollar of new investment SelectUSA facilitates—$22.5 billion in new investments over the past five years—lays the foundation for the workforce development that will ensure American competitiveness in the21st century economy.

There is also the complex challenge of securing energy sustainability and sustainable development; a challenge that requires a solution tied to renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. But the transformative impact of these technologies relies on their being disseminated at a global scale. ITA is doing its part by helping U.S. Smart Cities technology producers identify and cultivate export opportunities in global markets. That support was on display last month when we held our Discover Global Markets business forum in Chicago, which was dedicated entirely to Smart Cities technologies. Export counseling was provided by Commercial Diplomats from roughly 20 markets to the nearly 300 U.S. exporters in attendance, while matchmaking sessions were held between those exporters and buyers from Vietnam, Qatar, and the Philippines. Our work in this area was also on display during a recent hydrogen fuel cell trade mission to the U.S. from Japan. Alongside the Department of Energy, SelectUSA met with trade mission participants to discuss investing in the United States.

Then, there is the crucial task of combating hunger and malnourishment. A core tool in this fight is ready-to-use-therapeutic formulas (RUTFs), which is an accessible, inexpensive food source for those suffering from malnutrition. But producers need to leverage global markets in order to bring RUTFs directly to those who need it the most. So we are proud that our Commercial Service is supporting the effort to bring RUTFs to needed communities; specifically by assisting Missouri-based non-profit Project Peanut Butter (PPB). We supported PPB through its factory renovation, helping complete local business registrations, securing local utilities, formalizing local partnerships, and setting up quality control systems. Today, that facility produces 65,000 sachets of RUTF a day that are sold to United Nations agencies.  

When ITA and the American business community partner together, we have the potential to help secure a better business environment for our companies, a better future for our workers, and a better world for everyone.

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade