U.S.-CHINA TOURISM YEAR 2016

Kelly Craighead is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism and Executive Director for the National Travel and Tourism Office.

Not only an important trading partner, China is a critically important travel and tourism market for the United States. It plays an enormous role in our ability to reach the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy’s goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors annually to the United States by 2021.

Travel from China to the United States continues to show double-digit growth, with 2.6 million Chinese travelers visiting the United States in 2015 – an 18 percent growth over the previous year. Last year, these visitors spent a record $30.1 billion experiencing the United States, positioning China as the United States’ top spending market abroad in terms of travel and tourism exports.

According to the October 2016 National Travel and Tourism Office Forecast for International Travelers, more than 5 million Chinese travelers are expected to visit the United States by 2021 – which would make China the top overseas visitation market.
Recognizing the importance of travel and tourism between the two nations, President Obama and President Xi proclaimed 2016 as the U.S.-China Tourism Year (Tourism Year). The Tourism Year was initiated as an opportunity for both countries to review policies, processes and product offerings to ensure that Chinese visitors to the United States are met with an enjoyable travel experience.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker gave remarks at the U.S.-China Tourism Year closing event. “The Tourism Year was initiated as an opportunity for our countries to take a look at our policies, processes and product offerings to ensure that we can provide Chinese visitors with an enjoyable travel experience,” Pritzker explained

To make the United States a more welcoming destination for Chinese visitors, U.S. Travel and Tourism industry leaders used the Tourism Year to encourage the industry to become “prepared for China.”.

The Department of Commerce had three overarching goals for the Tourism Year:
To provide outreach to the entire nation about the importance of being prepared for Chinese visitors in order to be a competitive destination;

To successfully execute a small number of “signature events;” and

To work closely with industry and across the federal government to encourage efforts to create an enjoyable experience for Chinese visitors from beginning to end.

Signature events completed during the year included the February opening event hosted by Brand USA in Beijing; the 1,000 U.S. visitors to the Great Wall event in March; the China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit in September, held in Ningxia; and the closing event held in Washington, D.C. in November.
Here are just a couple of the achievements during this year:

Federal agencies developed new travel itineraries for destinations and activities that speak directly to Chinese interests, including thematic itineraries such as national parks and the great outdoors.

Commercial Service produced a China Travel Resource Guide for use by the U.S. travel and tourism industry interested in Chinese visitation.

The National Park Service is ensuring that Chinese visitors have access to in-language materials and web information at the most visited National Parks.

The State Department maintained progress on visa processing and kept wait times down to less than five days, despite the more than 50 percent increase in applications since the extension of visa validity.

Commerce will continue to work with industry to determine how the government can assist with market access issues in China, and we will continue to push for policy issues to be resolved, including: 1) ensuring there are ample air services to cater to the increasing demand for Chinese travel to the United States; 2) working to open the sale of outbound travel in China to U.S. companies; and 3) ensuring the ability of foreign global distribution services platforms to operate in China.

As our two populations more clearly understand the ties that bind our nations, this will create a multiplier effect for governmental and business ties, and maximize the potential of the most consequential relationship in the world. Deepening those people-to-people ties fundamentally requires travel and tourism, which is why the Tourism Year was so critical.

“Future of Education and Skills” meeting discusses conceptual learning framework and competencies

UNESCO presented its frameworks for competencies and learning objectives for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) at the 4th meeting of the informal working groups of the “Future of Education and Skills: Education 2030” programme by OECD. It was held in Beijing from 9 to 10 November 2016.

The meeting brought together more than 100 policy makers, experts, school networks and social partners. It was held back to back with a special symposium with systems and global thought leaders. The events were hosted by the National Institute of Educational Sciences (NIES) in Beijing, China, in cooperation with Tsinghua University from 9 to 11 November 2016. Participants welcomed the OECD’s new conceptual learning framework “Learning Compass 2030” with which students should be able to navigate in time and social space and shape the future for their own and others’ well-being.

Policy makers supported some common design principles. Some of the conclusions were that even where education remains true to the disciplines, it needs to aim at interdisciplinary learning and the capacity of students to see problems through multiple lenses. In an uncertain and volatile world, learning should focus on what has the highest transfer value, and on knowledge of disciplines with deep understanding about the disciplines, according to the meeting outcomes.

To date, 19 countries are taking part in the policy analysis on curriculum, with an aim to facilitate peer-learning as well as to build a knowledge base and develop tools for countries to draw on when re-designing their curriculum. The project welcomes interested countries and stakeholders to contribute to the project.

21% Growth of U.S. Exports to Belize Means Opportunity for Your Business

Belize’s economy is reliant on imports and the United States is a critical partner. Learn how that can help your business.
Central American markets seek quality American-made products, and our upcoming Trade Americas Business Opportunities in Central America Conference and Trade Mission can connect your company to promising opportunities.

Trade Mission and Conference: Business Opportunities in Central America
Costa Rica | Honduras | El Salvador | Guatemala | Nicaragua | Belize | Panama

Join this U.S. Commercial Service trade mission March 26-31, 2017 to connect to business leaders and opportunities in Central America:
Gain market insights,
Make industry contacts,
Solidify business strategies,
Advance specific projects, and
Identify potential partners.

If you are ready to begin exporting or expand your export profile, please contact your nearest U.S. Commercial Service office or download A Basic Guide to Exporting.

US Government Export Portal – Helps US businesses participate in the global marketplace with information on trade events, tariffs and export counseling assistance.

U.S. and Chinese Delegations Conclude the 27th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today led a U.S. delegation in discussions with Vice Premier Wang Yang and other Chinese government officials as part of the 27th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Washington. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus also participated in this year’s JCCT, the last of the Obama Administration. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of intellectual property protection, pharmaceutical and medical devices, and information security policies.

Specific outcomes of today’s meetings are described below. For further information on outcomes from the meetings, click here.
“The role of the JCCT is to expand the U.S.-China economic relationship by addressing commercial challenges head on and producing concrete results for both our countries. While we have had a productive day, significant challenges remain in our relationship, and we must redouble our commitment to addressing them,” said Secretary Penny Pritzker. “As the two largest economies and the two largest markets in the world, constructive engagement and sustained diplomacy between the United States and China are critical to making progress on the issues that remain in our relationship. That is what the JCCT is all about.”

“Over the years, JCCT has provided a vital platform to discuss the trade and investment issues that shape the U.S.-China economic relationship. This year’s JCCT produced progress on a number of issues facing American workers and businesses, but challenging issues in our bilateral economic relationship remain,”said Ambassador Froman.“What we know is that American workers and businesses are willing to compete with their counterparts in China, but expect to do so on a level playing field. As we conclude the final JCCT under President Obama’s leadership, we are hopeful the JCCT will continue to be an effective forum for sustained and meaningful engagement in the years to come.”

“While the agricultural outcomes of this week’s JCCT did not go as far as the United States had hoped, I remain optimistic that, in the final weeks of this Administration, we can still make additional progress on priority issues including biotechnology approvals and market access for U.S. beef,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I urge both sides to reengage as soon as possible so that we can fulfill this expectation and complete work before the end of the year and the start of the new administration.”

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. The 2015 JCCT meeting was held in Guangzhou, China.

Building upon the increased size and scope of the U.S.-China commercial relationship, the JCCT was reinvigorated in 2014 to include a full day of collaborative programing designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the United States and China, as well as to promote the exchange of information on trade opportunities at the state, provincial, and local levels.

This year’s private sector engagements included a celebratory dinner hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the US-China Business Council, as well as roundtable discussions on corporate restructuring, agriculture and food safety, and the digital economy.

Overview of JCCT Outcomes

Through sustained engagement during the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers, workers and consumers, including in the following areas:

Implementation: The United States and China agree on the importance of the full implementation of past JCCT outcomes to secure meaningful benefits for our workers and businesses. China agreed to build upon the 2011 commitment of President Hu Jintao to President Obama to delink Chinese indigenous innovation policies from government procurement preferences, and China’s 2011 JCCT and S&ED commitments to eliminate catalogues or measures with such links.

Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals: China committed to strengthen oversight of government procurement of medical devices to ensure foreign brands and foreign-manufactured products are treated in a transparent, fair, and equitable manner, and to not link procurement to policies promoting domestically produced medical devices. China also affirmed that drug registration review and approval shall not be linked to pricing commitments and shall not require specific pricing information.
Intellectual Property Rights Protection and Enforcement: China agreed to a number of IPR-related commitments that will facilitate much needed improvements for a wide range of industries that rely on the ability to protect and enforce their IPR in China. China affirmed that it is strengthening its trade secrets protections and prioritizing enforcement against online IPR counterfeiting and piracy. Both countries recognize the important role of online platforms in developing innovative new ways to deliver safe, reliable, and legitimate products in convenient and affordable ways.
Excess Capacity: Building on Presidential commitments made earlier this year, the U.S. and China agreed to jointly promote the expeditious establishment of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. In addition, the United States and China recognized the G20 Leaders’ commitment to take effective steps to address the challenges of global excess capacity. Both sides have agreed to exchange information on soda ash and to address global electrolytic aluminum excess capacity.

Innovation: This year’s JCCT provided an opportunity for the U.S. and China to build upon commitments made by Presidents Obama and Xi in September that innovation policies should be consistent with the principle of nondiscrimination. China confirmed that its “secure and controllable” policies will not limit sales opportunities for foreign companies or impose nationality-based restrictions, and will be notified to the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Committee.
Semiconductors: China and the United States jointly reaffirm their commitment to a strong, vibrant global semiconductor industry that operates in fair, open and transparent legal and regulatory environments. China reaffirms that operation of the integrated circuit investment funds will be based on market principles and that the government will not interfere with the normal operation of the funds.

U.S. and Chinese Delegations Conclude the 27th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today led a U.S. delegation in discussions with Vice Premier Wang Yang and other Chinese government officials as part of the 27thsession of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Washington. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus also participated in this year’s JCCT, the last of the Obama Administration. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of intellectual property protection, pharmaceutical and medical devices, and information security policies.

Specific outcomes of today’s meetings are described below.

“The role of the JCCT is to expand the U.S.-China economic relationship by addressing commercial challenges head on and producing concrete results for both our countries. While we have had a productive day, significant challenges remain in our relationship, and we must redouble our commitment to addressing them,” said Secretary Penny Pritzker. “As the two largest economies and the two largest markets in the world, constructive engagement and sustained diplomacy between the United States and China are critical to making progress on the issues that remain in our relationship. That is what the JCCT is all about.”

“Over the years, JCCT has provided a vital platform to discuss the trade and investment issues that shape the U.S.-China economic relationship. This year’s JCCT produced progress on a number of issues facing American workers and businesses, but challenging issues in our bilateral economic relationship remain,”said Ambassador Froman.“What we know is that American workers and businesses are willing to compete with their counterparts in China, but expect to do so on a level playing field. As we conclude the final JCCT under President Obama’s leadership, we are hopeful the JCCT will continue to be an effective forum for sustained and meaningful engagement in the years to come.”

“While the agricultural outcomes of this week’s JCCT did not go as far as the United States had hoped, I remain optimistic that, in the final weeks of this Administration, we can still make additional progress on priority issues including biotechnology approvals and market access for U.S. beef,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I urge both sides to reengage as soon as possible so that we can fulfill this expectation and complete work before the end of the year and the start of the new administration.”

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. The 2015 JCCT meeting was held in Guangzhou, China.

Building upon the increased size and scope of the U.S.-China commercial relationship, the JCCT was reinvigorated in 2014 to include a full day of collaborative programing designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the United States and China, as well as to promote the exchange of information on trade opportunities at the state, provincial, and local levels.

This year’s private sector engagements included a celebratory dinner hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the US-China Business Council, as well as roundtable discussions on corporate restructuring, agriculture and food safety, and the digital economy.

Overview of JCCT Outcomes

Through sustained engagement during the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers, workers and consumers, including in the following areas:

Implementation: The United States and China agree on the importance of the full implementation of past JCCT outcomes to secure meaningful benefits for our workers and businesses. China agreed to build upon the 2011 commitment of President Hu Jintao to President Obama to delink Chinese indigenous innovation policies from government procurement preferences, and China’s 2011 JCCT and S&ED commitments to eliminate catalogues or measures with such links.

Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals: China committed to strengthen oversight of government procurement of medical devices to ensure foreign brands and foreign-manufactured products are treated in a transparent, fair, and equitable manner, and to not link procurement to policies promoting domestically produced medical devices. China also affirmed that drug registration review and approval shall not be linked to pricing commitments and shall not require specific pricing information.
Intellectual Property Rights Protection and Enforcement: China agreed to a number of IPR-related commitments that will facilitate much needed improvements for a wide range of industries that rely on the ability to protect and enforce their IPR in China. China affirmed that it is strengthening its trade secrets protections and prioritizing enforcement against online IPR counterfeiting and piracy. Both countries recognize the important role of online platforms in developing innovative new ways to deliver safe, reliable, and legitimate products in convenient and affordable ways.
Excess Capacity: Building on Presidential commitments made earlier this year, the U.S. and China agreed to jointly promote the expeditious establishment of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. In addition, the United States and China recognized the G20 Leaders’ commitment to take effective steps to address the challenges of global excess capacity. Both sides have agreed to exchange information on soda ash and to address global electrolytic aluminum excess capacity.

Innovation: This year’s JCCT provided an opportunity for the U.S. and China to build upon commitments made by Presidents Obama and Xi in September that innovation policies should be consistent with the principle of nondiscrimination. China confirmed that its “secure and controllable” policies will not limit sales opportunities for foreign companies or impose nationality-based restrictions, and will be notified to the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Committee.
Semiconductors: China and the United States jointly reaffirm their commitment to a strong, vibrant global semiconductor industry that operates in fair, open and transparent legal and regulatory environments. China reaffirms that operation of the integrated circuit investment funds will be based on market principles and that the government will not interfere with the normal operation of the funds.

USPTO Attachés: A Valuable Resource for U.S. Intellectual Property Interests Abroad

U.S. companies may understand how to handle their intellectual property (IP) interests within the United States, but selling products and being competitive in foreign markets with varied and unfamiliar local IP laws is a different ball game. Independent inventors and small and medium-sized entities may lack the in-house resources and expertise they need to deal with foreign IP regulations.

And today, looking after those IP assets is more important than ever: according to a recent estimate from the International Chamber of Commerce, the global value of counterfeit and pirated products could be as high as $1.8 trillion a year. This represents a huge loss of revenue.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) IP Attaché Program supports U.S. stakeholders that sell in foreign markets or want to enter them. These attachés are IP experts stationed at select U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, working directly with U.S. businesses on intellectual property issues—including helping to stop counterfeiting and piracy—while supporting U.S. efforts to improve IP laws internationally.

In addition, the attachés advocate for U.S. IP policies; coordinate training on IP protection matters; and work with judicial, administrative, legislative, and enforcement officers to assist U.S. businesses that own or use IP. Currently, the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program has 14 positions around the world.
Recently, one industry-leading furniture manufacturer from Tennessee with production capability in China learned the value of the assistance that the USPTO’s IP attachés can provide. The company ran into difficulties when one of its former original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) obtained 13 Chinese design patents and used them to block the company’s other OEMs from manufacturing and exporting products. Our IP attaché in Guangzhou met with the company’s CEO and provided information and guidance on patent invalidation proceedings and how to navigate China’s IP judicial system, and offered suggestions on working with local customs and government authorities. One week after the meeting, three containers of furniture were released for export by Chinese customs officers, and $3.5 million in orders were fulfilled.

Companies can also face dangers abroad even where their operations are exclusively domestic. For example Mabrey Products—a small U.S. company based in Chico, California, that designs and manufactures wooden urns for funeral homes—made the surprising discovery last year at a trade show in the United States that a Chinese vendor was displaying urns that were direct copies of Mabrey’s product line. The company’s owner turned to one of our IP attachés stationed in China, who was able to provide guidance on how the company could protect its IP against this Chinese vendor and other infringers.

Now, other countries and markets may operate differently, each having its own—and sometimes quite distinct—set of rules and regulations regarding IP. But these examples show that the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program is working throughout the world to help U.S. businesses and stakeholders. To find out more about the program and how it can help you, visit the IP Attaché Program page of the USPTO website. Additional information on how to protect or use IP abroad, including links to IP Toolkits for more than 20 countries and regions, can be found on the USPTO website.

U.S. Department of Commerce Report Shows Business Case for Apprenticeships

Nov 16, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the release of a Department of Commerce report, “The Benefits and Costs of Apprenticeships: A Business Perspective.” This report, authored by the Economics and Statistics Administration in partnership with Case Western Reserve University, is among the first of its kind in the U.S. that captures the employer perspective on the value of the apprenticeship model.

As part of President Obama’s goal of doubling the number of registered apprenticeships in the U.S. by the end of 2018, this report provides companies with hard data and compelling case studies to make the business case for the expansion of apprenticeship models within their own organizations.

“Through our Skills for Business agenda, the Department of Commerce has strongly supported the Obama Administration’s efforts to prepare America’s workers for the in-demand jobs of the 21st century. Expanding apprenticeships has been a significant part of our efforts,” said Secretary Pritzker. “This first-of-its kind report clearly demonstrates the value apprenticeships deliver to companies by helping fill jobs left empty, creating a more productive work force, reducing turnover and lowering recruiting costs. The earn-and-learn model is one that we can and should continue to expand across a more diversified set of industries to help meet the challenges faced by America’s workers and employers.”  

This report contains findings from 13 case studies of businesses and intermediaries that have experience and success in implementing registered apprenticeships. The programs varied in structure and cost from company to company, but all found that an investment in apprenticeship pays off. 

Key Findings Include

Across industries from manufacturing to construction, healthcare, retail, and IT, the single most common benefit of apprenticeships was filling jobs that otherwise sat vacant. 

Apprenticeships broadened companies’ recruiting pool by opening doors to less-skilled candidates from more diverse backgrounds who would otherwise not be recruited.

Internal production data from two companies helped put a dollar value on some of the benefits:

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that its Medical Assistant apprenticeship program nearly paid for itself within the first year.

The program had an internal rate of return of 40 percent compared to using overtime with existing medical staff, and it was essential to a major expansion and re-organization of its provision of medical services.  

Reducing the long-term use of overtime also helped relieve staff burnout and turnover, while quality of care remained high after the MA apprentices were introduced.

Siemens USA obtains at least a 50 percent rate of return on its apprenticeship program, compared to hiring machinists off the street.

Most of the gains stem from how apprenticeship allows Siemens to more flexibly fill its capacity in Charlotte, NC, which makes generators for electric utilities. Apprentice grads’ flexibility helps the plant make full use of spare capacity, when available, such that the plant can seek and take generator repair work.

Siemens’ apprentice graduates are well suited for tasks like repair work, which involve more judgment than standard projects. One year of this additional capacity is worth an amount similar to the cost of a worker’s apprenticeship program. 

Apprentices also were more likely to finish their work on time, and were slightly more productive, compared to machinists hired off the street.

Costs for firms varied widely, from less than $25,000 to $250,000 per apprentice, and benefits were diverse, but the companies studied were unanimous and enthusiastic in finding the benefits to outweigh the costs and their commitments.

Surprisingly few companies calculated an internal return on investment (ROI) for their apprenticeship programs.  

Because there is little guidance on how to capture the return on investment and few firms explicitly collect the data to do so, this report provides a roadmap to help employers measure the costs and benefits of apprenticeships. 

The full report is available here: http://www.esa.gov/reports/benefits-and-costs-apprenticeships-business-perspective