The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 65 The U.S. Commercial Service’s worldwide network of trade and investment professionals is uniquely positioned to help U.S. companies take advantage of these markets. Our network helped 30,000 U.S. companies in Fiscal Year 2017 alone. Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FCS VP. Contact: | (202) 482-9088 FCS VP VOICE | BY DANIEL CROCKER AFSA NEWS U.S. Economic Security Through Trade Agreements: Helping U.S. Companies Export to New Markets The U.S. has trade agree- ments in force in 20 mar- kets worldwide. In 2015, 47 percent of all U.S. goods exports went to these 20 markets, which together have experienced a 52 per- cent growth premium over non-trade agreement mar- kets in the last few years. The U.S. Commercial Service’s worldwide network of trade and investment pro- fessionals is uniquely posi- tioned to help U.S. compa- nies take advantage of these markets. Our network helped 30,000 U.S. companies in Fiscal Year 2017 alone. These companies are not large, but they make world-class products that are in demand in markets overseas—if they can just get their products to market. That’s where we come in. Lower Tariffs = U.S. Export Opportunities We host trade shows for U.S companies and foreign buy- ers to highlight new oppor- tunities. We offer seminars on export mechanics, helping companies under- stand how to use content of origin documentation, for instance, to gain advantage in lower tariffs. Our posts in these markets work with foreign representatives, agents, distributors and end users to help them identify U.S. suppliers who can now sell to them faster and cheaper. We work with logis- tics and export financing providers to ensure that companies can close the sale. In the last two years, our overseas offices in these 20 markets alone assisted 5,710 U.S. companies. Our domestic field offices assisted thousands more U.S. companies and foreign buyers from these countries. But matchmaking is often not enough. So we do more. Implementing and Enforcing Trade Agreements The U.S. companies we assist tell us when they hit export barriers. In the last two years, we tackled problems for 352 companies in the 20 trade agreement markets, working through our embassy teams to chal- lenge foreign governments to treat American compa- nies fairly. Tackling a market barrier for one company can have a tremendous impact. For example, the work that our Central America-based team did in 2015 to assist Baxter Healthcare navigate an allegedly corrupt govern- ment procurement process in order to provide dialysis treatment was a real hat trick. It brought the Gua- temalan government back into compliance with the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agree- ment, it helped other U.S. providers in the sector and it saved lives. (See the story in the December FSJ .) Our casework capture on Salesforce reveals gaps in areas like government procurement, customs cor- ruption, and technical bar- riers to trade that hurt U.S. companies. Our Commerce representatives on the U.S. Trade Representative’s negotiating team use this knowledge to make future trade agreements fairer for U.S. companies. The Commercial Service is unique in its footprint and reach throughout the U.S. business community and overseas. It is therefore in a key position to ensure that when the U.S. government has a trade agreement in place, American companies will be able to take advan- tage of it and contribute to our economic security. n AFSA Governing Board Meeting, November 15, 2017 Resolutions 2018 AFSA Budget: Governing Board members held an extensive discussion of the proposed budget. It was then moved and seconded that the AFSAGoverning Board approve the proposed 2018 budget. The motion was adopted unanimously. Please look for a report from the AFSA treasurer on the budget and AFSA’s financial situa- tion in the March edition of AFSANews. n