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US Department of Commerce and IDB join forces to help Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) throughout the hemisphere

PANAMA CITY, Panama – On the occasion of the CEO Summit of the Americas, Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Bruce Andrews, Deputy Secretary of Commerce (USDOC) announced their intention to collaborate in efforts to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) throughout the hemisphere.

Both organizations aim to increase their impact on SME development and trade and investment levels by tapping into the expertise and added reach that their counterpart brings to the table. USDOC and IDB will cross-disseminate information about support services and information they provide, while fostering more connections between small and medium size businesses in the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean.

One of the key tools for this collaboration is the IDB´s ConnectAmericas platform. This is a social media platform for businesses, where businesspeople can connect with peers from throughout the hemisphere, and access tools and practical information designed to help them carry out international transactions. During its first year of operation, ConnectAmericas has been visited by more than 250,000 people from 170 countries and territories, and 24,000 people from 56 countries have created profiles on the platform. Through its collaboration with USDOC, the IDB expects to increase the participation of US firms in ConnectAmericas, while using the platform to spread the word about a variety of programs that USDOC offers to SMEs.

As part of this collaboration, USDOC’s International Trade Administration (ITA) represents more than 100 offices across the United States and more than a dozen locations in U.S. Embassies and Consulates throughout Latin America. ITA’s Trade Americas Team works to promote opportunities and events throughout the Western Hemisphere. And the Look South initiative, now in its second year, provides the tools and knowledge exporters need to take advantage of the United States’ free trade agreements with 11 partner countries in Latin America. Nearly 90,000 U.S. companies export to these 11 countries alone. In addition, ITA’s SelectUSA seeks to build relationships that highlight the many advantages the United States offers as a location for business and investment. The second SelectUSA Investment Summit in March 2015 saw a record number of attendees from 1,300 companies and more than 70 international markets, including strong representation from Latin America.

“To be able to trade and invest internationally, SMEs need better access to contacts abroad, as well as training, market intelligence, and finance, and that is what we provide in ConnectAmericas,” said Moreno, of the IDB. “Through this collaboration, we aim to reach more U.S. companies, while incorporating an additional source of high-quality information and tools that they can access.”

Andrews stated that “The Commerce Department is excited to join forces with the Inter-American Development Bank to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean to take advantage of opportunities in new markets. This partnership demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to generating broad-based economic growth and improving competitiveness across the Americas.”

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