The agenda and materials from the 2016 SIDO Washington Forum 2016 are now available. 

State economic development organizations and U.S. companies were on full display last month at the Hannover Messe Industrial Trade Fair. As the world’s largest industrial technology trade fair, held annually just outside Hannover, Germany, Hannover Messe is an international meet-and-greet of sorts, providing U.S. companies and state international trade organizations the opportunity to meet prospective foreign investors and export partners from around the world.

According to the Organization for International Investment (OFII), foreign direct investment in the United States totaled $2.9 trillion through 2014 on a historical-cost basis (cumulative investment). In 2008, investment reached a 10-year peak at $310 billion. In 2009, the global economic recession led to significant reductions in U.S. investment, falling by more than half the previous year’s levels. In 2014, foreign companies invested $112 billion in the U.S. – the weakest year in a decade. However, based on preliminary data for the first three quarters of 2015, OFII suggests that foreign direct investment in the U.S. may make a comeback, possibly breaking records by exceeding $300 billion. 

International trade directors from more than 35 states participated in meetings and discussions with federal officials, foreign dignitaries and other partners at the State International Development Organizations’, or SIDO’s, Washington Forum in Washington, D.C., the first week of April. SIDO members met with federal officials to discuss implementation of two recent legislative actions, namely the passage of the Small Business Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, or the State Trade Coordination Act, and the reauthorization of the State Trade and Export Promotions, or STEP, program.

President Obama and his family’s visit to Cuba March 20, 2016, marked the first time since 1928 that a sitting American president visited the island.  While Obama’s trip included formal bilateral meetings with Cuban President Raúl Castro, the White House and other federal departments emphasized engagement with the Cuban people and the economic opportunity reduced barriers represent for the Cuban people. In doing so, the administration is clearly working to brand the recent loosening of travel and trade restrictions as a new approach to empower the Cuban people and foster economic and political reform.

CSG Midwest
Canada and the United States have long been each other’s most important energy partners, with annual trade between the two countries in this economic sector at nearly $100 billion. Cross-border pipelines bring natural gas and oil south to major U.S. markets, and two Midwestern states, Minnesota and North Dakota, imported 12 percent of their electricity from Canada in 2014.
“North America is an integrated market,” notes Dan D’Autremont, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan.
But leaders at the federal, state and provincial levels are taking steps now to deepen the two countries’ relationship, this time with an emphasis on sharing information and working more closely on innovations to reshape the future of energy policy and energy use across the entire continent.
CSG Midwest
A state-federal partnership that helps small- and medium-sized businesses in the Midwest reach global markets has been reauthorized through 2020. The State Trade and Export Program, or STEP, was included in legislation signed into law in February. It provides states with matching funds to help more small businesses export their goods and services.
The Council of State Governments, through the work of the State International Development Organizations, helped federal lawmakers and trade agencies develop the reauthorization language. (SIDO is a CSG affiliate.)

Many state leaders participate in international trips, education exchanges and foreign delegations in their states and districts. Understanding the proper protocol to guide interactions with foreign visitors is key to overcoming intercultural communications barriers and building relationships with overseas contacts. During this session, experts discussed the proper protocol for meeting with foreign delegations, including proper greeting and business card exchanges and how to conduct business meetings and other events.   

CSG Midwest
Within days after a World Trade Organization decision in December authorizing substantial retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico, the long-simmering trade dispute over country-of-origin labeling ended.
After several years of discussion that produced no solution, the U.S. Congress and the Department of Agriculture responded to the ruling by abolishing the labeling requirement.

CSG Director of Federal Affairs Andy Karellas outlines the top five issues in international policy for 2016, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), export promotion and economic development, global cybersecurity, attracting foreign investment, and global humanitarian crisis.

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