Wilbur Ross Leads Business Executives Across the Indo-Pacific

In support of the goal of President Donald J. Trump to increase American commercial activity across nations in the Indo-Pacific region, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross led a business delegation including of 16 companies to Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam from November 3 to November 8. This mission spawned new partnerships as well as several business agreements, potentially representing billions in investments.

“The Trump Administration is building new relationships across the Indo-Pacific, creating a bright future, not only for the United States, but for countries across the region,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Last year, trade between Indo-Pacific nations and United States increased to a record of nearly $2 trillion – tying our great countries ever-closer together.”

In Vietnam, Secretary Ross and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc witnessed the signing of five major business agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) that will further deepen the U.S.-Vietnam trade partnership:

  • AES signed an MOU with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to solidify cooperation on the Son My 2 Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plant. The Government of Vietnam approved the project in September 2019, representing an investment of $1.7 billion. Together with the $1.4 billion Son My LNG import terminal, the plant represents a total investment of almost $3.1 billion.
  • Varian Medical Systems signed an MOU with the National Institute of Medical Equipment & Construction for strategic cooperation on the maintenance and calibration of existing and future Varian Linear Accelerators. To further the delivery of effective cancer treatment in Vietnam, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency committed up to $1 million to support a critical training program for healthcare professionals connected to the expansion of oncology services.
  • Vietnam Airlines signed two deals during the ceremony. The first was a multi-year engine service agreement with Pratt & Whitney valued at approximately $1 billion. In addition, Vietnam Airlines signed a multi-million-dollar agreement with the technology company Sabre, adopting solutions that will strengthen their forecasting and inventory control capabilities.
  • Murphy Oil signed the Block 15-2/17 production sharing contract with Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), PVEP, and SK Innovation.

Also, while in Hanoi, Secretary Ross and business delegates met with Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, the American Chamber of Commerce, as well as other public and private sector stakeholders to discuss U.S.-Vietnam trade and investment cooperation.

During the stop in Jakarta, Secretary Ross and the delegation attended an event with AmCham Indonesia, which drew a full-house of companies and private industry stakeholders. The Secretary also held bilateral talks with President Joko Widodo and key cabinet officials including Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto and Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan.

While in Bangkok, the business delegation met with Thai Government officials, 14 U.S. Chiefs of Mission in Asia, as well as potential partners from Thailand and the region. As the Secretary’s mission took place during the Second Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF), the business delegation had an additional opportunity to network with over 1,000 business and government leaders from across Asia and the United States. The Secretary gave an address at the IPBF, while also speaking to U.S. Chamber/U.S. ASEAN Business Council and to AmCham Executive Directors from all over Asia.

U.S. Economy Grows 1.9 Percent in Third Quarter

Today, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the third quarter GDP growth number for 2019. The Bureau found that real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the third quarter.

“Today’s report shows that the U.S. economy continues its steady growth in defiance of media skeptics calling for a recession,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Since President Trump took office, wages have surged, unemployment has hit record lows, and poverty has fallen for all Americans, including the country’s most vulnerable.”

In the third quarter, U.S. consumer spending grew a healthy 2.9 percent, as American consumer confidence continued to buoy our country’s economic strength. Spending on durable goods led and jumped 7.6 percent from the second quarter. Business intellectual property investment rose 6.6 percent, signaling that American business will continue to lead the world with new ideas and inventions. The 1.6 percent growth in goods exports demonstrates that President Trump’s trade policies are bringing Made in America back.

This quarter’s growth number builds on a strong legacy of economic growth and accomplishments under President Donald Trump.

In September 2019, unemployment in the U.S. fell to 3.5 percent, hitting the lowest level in 50 years. The unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans and African Americans were also at record lows. The total numbers of employed Americans hit the highest level on record. Between 2017 and 2018, 2.3 million moreAmericans gained full-time, year-round employment, including 1.6 million women.

This has translated to higher incomes for average Americans. The Census Bureau reported in September that real median household income rose to more than $63,000 in 2018, the highest level in nearly two decades. Between 2017 and 2018, real median earnings of full-time, year-round workers rose 3.4% and 3.3% for men and women respectively. This good news tracks with Labor Department numbers, which marked more than a year of consecutive year-over-year hourly wage increases of 3.0 percent or higher. Before 2018, wage gains had not hit 3 percent since 2009.

The poverty rate has tumbled as well. In 2018, the poverty rate fell by 0.5 percent to the lowest level since 2001, as the growing economy lifted 1.7 million Americans out of poverty since just 2017. Disadvantaged groups such as Hispanic Americans and African Americans saw the largest poverty reductions. America’s children saw a 1.2 percentage points in poverty, while poverty for single mothers fell by 2.5 percentage points.

President Donald Trump’s economic and trade policies are delivering wins for the American people. A strong economy is lifting millions out of poverty and giving American workers long overdue pay increases.

Gross Domestic Product by Industry: Second Quarter 2019

The following information is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA): Professional, scientific, and technical services; real estate and rental and leasing; and mining were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the second quarter of 2019, according to gross domestic product (GDP) by industry statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The private goods- and services-producing industries, as well as the government sector, contributed to the increase. Overall, 14 of 22 industry groups contributed to the 2.0 percent increase in real GDP in the second quarter.

Real GDP and Real Value Added by Sector
For the professional, scientific, and technical services industry group, real value added—a measure of an industry’s contribution to GDP—increased 7.4 percent in the second quarter, after increasing 8.0 percent in the first quarter. The second quarter growth reflected increases to miscellaneous professional, scientific, and technical services, as well as computer systems design and related services.

Real estate and rental and leasing increased 2.6 percent, after increasing 0.8 percent. The second quarter growth primarily reflected an increase in other real estate, which includes offices of real estate agents and brokers.

Mining increased 23.5 percent in the second quarter, after increasing 26.0 percent. The second quarter growth primarily reflected an increase in oil and gas extraction.
Real Value Added by Industry

Other highlights

Real GDP growth slowed to 2.0 percent in the second quarter, from 3.1 percent in the first quarter. Finance and insurance was the leading contributor to the deceleration with real value added for the industry group increasing 2.0 percent in the second quarter, after increasing 20.9 percent in the first quarter.

Retail trade increased 0.2 percent in the second quarter, after increasing 8.8 percent, and was the second leading contributor to the slowdown. The deceleration was primarily attributed to a slowdown in other retail, which includes gasoline stations as well as building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.

Utilities increased 18.1 percent in the second quarter, after decreasing 3.5 percent in the first quarter.

Gross output by industry

Economy-wide, real gross output—principally a measure of an industry’s sales or receipts, which includes sales to final users in the economy (GDP) and sales to other industries (intermediate inputs)—increased 2.0 percent in the second quarter. This reflected an increase of 2.9 percent for the private services-producing sector, and 4.4 percent for the government sector, while the private goods-producing sector decreased 1.4 percent. Overall, 15 of 22 industry groups contributed to the increase in real gross output.

Real Gross Output by Industry

Real gross output for retail trade increased 4.7 percent in the second quarter, after increasing 2.8 percent in the first quarter. The increase was primarily attributed to other retail, which includes nonstore retailers.

Real estate and rental and leasing increased 3.9 percent, after increasing 3.5 percent in the first quarter.

Professional, scientific, and technical services increased 6.5 percent in the second quarter, after increasing 0.2 percent in the first quarter. The increase was primarily attributed to an increase in miscellaneous professional, scientific, and technical services, which includes advertising, research and development, and engineering services.

Annual Update of the Industry Economic Accounts

The estimates released today reflect the results of the annual update of the Industry Economic Accounts. The update covers the first quarter of 2014 through the first quarter of 2019. Major improvements introduced with this update include:

Incorporation of results from the 2019 annual update of the National Income and Product Accounts, including a new quality-adjusted price for cellular phones, as well as new private data on video streaming revenue that enhances the coverage of streaming providers.

Incorporation of newly available and revised source data, including the Census Bureau’s Service Annual Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, and the Department of Treasury’s Statistics of Income.

Benchmark and annul supply-use tables, as well as the full results of the release can be found on the BEA Web site. Additional information will be available in an article in the November 2019 issue of the Survey of Current Business.

Wilbur Ross Travels to the United Kingdom, Asia, and Australia to Advocate for American Workers

WASHINGTON – Following the United National General Assembly, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross spent two weeks travelling to the United Kingdom, India, Singapore, and Australia to advocate for American workers and businesses, as well as to build upon the United States’ robust relationships with these nations.

“Across the world, the Trump Administration is building better commercial partnerships with dozens of countries,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Our efforts have led to countless new opportunities for American businesses and workers, further driving economic growth and job creation.”

During the Secretary’s visit to London, he joined roundtable meetings with British-American businesses on Brexit and future opportunities, participated in a space-focused discussion with U.S. satellite and aerospace firms, as well as dedicated time to speak with the media about the importance of the two nations’ partnership. He also appeared at an event hosted by Ambassador Johnson with American financial and legal institutions to discuss the future of U.S.-U.K. relations.

Beginning with his remarks at the World Economic Forum in New Delhi, Secretary Ross met with Minister of Commerce and Industry and Railways Piyush Goyal to stress the positive trends of the U.S.-India trade relationship. He later joined Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister Goyal in bilateral meetings to advance U.S. commercial interests. Subsequently in Bangalore, Secretary Ross met with Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman K. Sivan to learn more about potential collaborations for U.S. and Indian space entities.

While in Singapore, Secretary Ross joined Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as well as Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing to discuss U.S.-Singapore relations and the business environment for American private industries. The Secretary also participated in a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore to hear their thoughts on the future of the trade partnership.

After arriving in Australia, Secretary Ross met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham, and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan, to discuss American and Australian commercial collaboration. The Secretary also participated in an event hosted by the Space Industry Association of Australia in partnership with the Australian Capital Territory government, and delivered remarks before the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Additionally, Secretary Ross paid his respects to the U.S.-Australia alliance with a sunset wreath laying at the Australian War Memorial.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR INVESTIGATION RESULTS IN MINNESOTA FOUNDRY PAYING ENGINEER $190,357 FOR H-1B VISA VIOLATIONS

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

The H-1B visa program permits American employers to employ nonimmigrants to work temporarily in specialized occupations in the U.S. when they cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce.

The ARB and an administrative law judge upheld WHD’s findings that ME Global Inc.

ME Global Inc. also failed to maintain documentation required by the LCA such as documentation of the prevailing wage, scope of work, and method used for determining wages rates and failed to post information about the LCA in employment locations.

The law establishes certain standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being affected adversely by the employment of the nonimmigrant workers, as well as to protect the H-1B nonimmigrant workers.

For more information about wage laws enforced by WHD, contact the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation’s workforce.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Upcoming Event: ESNA 2019 Conference and Expo

November 5-7, 2019 in San Diego, CA

Join 2500 industry leaders representing over 30 countries at the largest and most influential grid-connected and energy storage conference and expo in North America.

ESNA is pleased to offer the events below as part of their international programming:

ENERGY STORAGE ON THE MOVE WEBINAR:
On September 19 at 11 AM PT (2 PM ET), and in partnership with ITA, ESNA will host a free, public webinar on “How Vehicle Electrification is Shaping the Future Global Electricity Landscape.” You can register for the free here.

GLOBAL GRID TRANSFORMATION AT ESNA 2019:

ESNA will host the Global Grid Transformation program, a one-day facilitated roundtable and workshop with key stakeholders from around the world. International delegations come together to promote cross-border collaboration on grid transformation issues with policymakers and companies with a focus on promoting a decarbonized, resilient and affordable power grid.

SITE VISIT OPTIONS AT ESNA:
Registered attendees are eligible to sign up for an optional site visit to an energy facility in the San Diego region on the morning of November 5. Site visits are available on a first-come, first-served basis and fill up quickly.

ESNA FELLOWSHIPS AVAILABLE FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY MAKERS:
ESNA offers fellowships to distinguished government representatives, decision makers, and thought leaders who may otherwise not be able to attend the event. The fellowships include a free All-Access pass to ESNA.

The ESNA application deadline is October 15, 2019.

Upcoming Domestic and International Trade Events

Event: WEFTEC 2019 
Date: September 21-25, 2019 
Location: Chicago, IL 
Description: WEFTEC is the largest conference of its kind in North America and offers water quality professionals from around the world with the best water quality education and training available today. The U.S. Commercial Service will be offering B2B matchmaking and Showtime market counseling services. 

Event: Expo Agua Peru
Date: October 16-18, 2019
Location: Lima, Peru
Description: This is the main water expo of Peru, where the latest technological innovations and integral solutions for the sustainable and productive management of water are presented. The event brings together leading companies in their fields, international experts, decision makers and a broad segment of end-users coming from the water sector and related sectors (agriculture, mining and industry); who share their experiences and solutions to the problems and challenges that face Peru and the Andean region regarding the integral water management. The U.S. Commercial Service will have a booth space and offer matchmaking and promotional opportunities for interested U.S. firms.  

Event: IFAT India
Date: October 16-18, 2019
Location: Bombay Exhibition Center, India
Description: IFAT India is the country’s leading trade fair for water, sewage, solid waste, and recycling. The trade fair provides a platform for exhibitors to showcase their latest innovations and solutions, debate current issues and form business relationships on a global scale. 

Event: WETEX
Date: October 22-24, 2019
Location: Dubai, UAE

Event: InterAqua
Date: January 29-31, 2020
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Event: Envirotech Executive Service (EES) Mission – Water Delegation to India
Location: New Delhi, Ahmedabad & Chennai with optional spin-off Gold Key Service in Mumbai or Hyderabad
Date: February 9-15, 2020 (spin-off on February 17, 2020)
Description: Water/wastewater is one of the most promising sub-sectors of the environment technologies industry in India for U.S. exporters.  The EES Mission to India will introduce potential delegates to the Indian water/wastewater markets in these three cities; help participants learn about relevant policies, procedures and opportunities in India’s water industry; and take part in business to business matchmaking appointments with private sector organizations and government agencies.  In addition, the delegates will have an opportunity to visit/participate in the Water Expo 2020, a local trade show that takes place from February 13-15, 2020 in Chennai. 

Event: Water Today’s Water Expo 
Location: Chennai, India
Date: February 13-15, 2020

Event: IFAT
Date: May 5-9, 2020 
Location: Munich, Germany 
Description: IFAT is the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management. This truly international show offered over 3,300 exhibitors the opportunity to present their latest innovations in waste management and recycling to more than 142,000 visitors from 162 countries!

Event: Singapore International Water Week
Date: July 5-9, 2020
Location: Singapore
Description: There will be a U.S. pavilion and support for participating U.S. exhibitors from the U.S. Commercial Service in Singapore.  

Event: USA Fair Access Nigeria
Date: March 31-April 2, 2020
Location: Lagos, Nigeria
Description: The USA Fair 2020 in Lagos, Nigeria will present American manufacturers, suppliers and service providers with product showcase opportunities in the largest and most dynamic market on the African continent! Save the date now and register by November 30, 2019 to get the early bird rate.