Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Global Competitiveness Index 2007

It wasn't so long ago (that it still couldn't be blogged) that the World Economic (WE) Forum released its 2007 Global Competitiveness Index.

As always hoped for (from our parochial perspective), the U.S. topped the overall ranking. Europe (as a continent) came in second (Switzerland second among the world's countries, followed by Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Finland) with Asia third (Singapore and Japan).

For other continents, Chile ranked highest in Latin America (yes, I know that's countries on more than one continent), followed by Mexico and Costa Rica.

From another perspective, China and India are tops in large developing economies. And, it's good to note that several countries in the Middle East and Africa are in the top half of rankings. The leaders are: Israel (almost European in culture if not geography), Kuwait, Qatar,Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The WE's news release notes that only South Africa and Mauritius are in the top half for countries in the sub-Sahara.

WE said the U.S. confirmed its position as the most competitive economy by citing our capacity for technological innovation, our first-rate universities and research centers among other general economic conditions and institutions. Our weaknesses were attributed to the sub-prime mortgage crisis (surprise!) and the global credit crunch (double surprise!).

The top ten economies did tend to bunch. See...

Country Index
U.S. 5.67
Switzerland 5.62

Denmark 5.55
Sweden 5.54
Germany 5.51
Finland 5.49

Singapore 5.45
Japan 5.43
United Kingdom 5.41
Netherlands 5.40

How significant are those differences. Read the report. Order your copy online or by email. Watch video interviews of the authors. Contact WE's Partner Institutes.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Do You Mean IT or IT?

Most people don't connect international trade (IT) and information technology (IT).

Yet today's "Exporting in a Free Trade World," a forum devoted to free trade agreements (FTA) and opening markets demonstrated that connection. While the brief forum was necessarily limited to just two countries -- Canada and Colombia -- a broader discussion included some neighboring countries. Speakers, included Margaret Hanson-Muse, Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy (Bogota) Colombia. She had participated in the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement negotiations (telecom and customs chapters), for which she was recognized by the Department of State with her second Superior Honor Award. In December 2006, Pfizer S.A. recognized Ms. Hanson-Muse with its first annual leadership award "for her exemplary support ... in defense of Intellectual Property rights."

Both Ms. Hanson-Muse and Matt Gaisford, Ecuador/Panama Desk, U.S. Department of Commerce attested that the proposed FTA for Colombia and Peru, as well as the existing Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) with Panama, included those countries acceptance of the Information Technology Agreement, basically allowing IT in duty-free.

For Panama, Washington's 2007 exports of computers and electronic products toatled $1.5 million. Washington's exporters of computers and other information technology equipment will benefit from the U.S.-Panama TPA tariff reductions. Certain U.S. exports of information technology equipment will receive duty-free treatment immediately upon entry into force of the Agreement, including DVDs, telephone and fax equipment, semiconductors and medical and lab instruments.

Washington's manufactured-export category for computers and electronic products was $3.3 billion in 2007. The U.S.-Colombia TPA improves market access for Washington's information technology goods and service providers. Nearly 100% of U.S.exports of products covered by the Information Technology Agreement, including important exports of computer equipment and communications equipment, will receive duty-free treatment immediately upon entry into force of the agreement. With the immediate removal of most tariffs, U.S. exports will become much more competitive and affordable to Colombians. Now, the benefit is mostly one-way with Colombia enjoying access to the U.S. market duty-free. The top U.S. exports in this sector include computers, computer parts and radio and TV broadcasting equipment.

Adoption of the U.S.-Colombia FTA has been put on hold through action of the administration to hurriedly place the issue before Congress, and Congressional leadership's action to void time commitments to delay the issue past elections.

Our thanks to the FTA forum sponsors: U.S. Commercial Service, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, World Trade Center Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma for bringing this discussion of the facts on this public policy issue to the community.

Do you have a product or service to sell to the federal government?


Save the date for the annual Procurement/Grants Workshop on Monday, June 16, 2008

Congressman Adam Smith invites you to his Procurement/Grants Workshop at the Fabulich Center in Tacoma on Monday, June 16, 2008. The Procurement program will provide information designed to update businesses on the programs, policies and processes of procurement with various federal agencies. The Grants program will feature information for non-profit organizations, individuals and businesses to identify grant opportunities and deal with the changes in our economy and funding streams.

Scheduled speakers include representatives from: Department of Veterans Affairs, Small Business Administration, General Services Administration, Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

The Procurement/Grants Workshop will be held on Monday, June 16, 2008 in Tacoma at the Fabulich Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road, Conference Room #104. The Procurement workshop will be 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. (sign-in opens at 7:30), and after a networking lunch, the Grants workshop will be from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Please feel free to attend either or both portions of the event. To RSVP and receive information on purchasing a lunch please email

Doing Business with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

DARPA is the central research and development organization for the Defense Department. DARPA’S mission is to maintain the technological superiority of the U. S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use.

Don’t constrain your great ideas by how you think DARPA may react. Even though they may not appear active in a particular area doesn’t mean the Agency won’t be interested in a great technological idea in a new arena. In fact, your idea could lead to new areas of research.

You can refer to "Solicitations" and look at the seven Technical Offices Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs). BAAs encourage unique and innovative ideas. Additionally, technical dialogues are invited. For additional information contact Connie Jacobs,

Department of Homeland Security Small Business Vendor Outreach Sessions

Vendor Outreach Sessions are a series of pre-arranged 15-minute appointments with Small Business Specialists from various components of the Homeland Security procurement offices. These sessions provide the small business community an opportunity to discuss their capabilities and learn of potential procurement opportunities.

Scheduled participants from the Department include representatives from:

Department Headquarters (HQ)
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
U.S. Secret Service (USSS)
Transportation and Security Administration (TSA)
The next Vendor Outreach Session is Thursday, May 22, 2008 from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon at:

Holiday Inn Capitol
Columbia Ballroom
550 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024

Appointments are scheduled via the web each month on a first-come, first-served basis and are quickly filled. Registration will open Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 12:00 noon (Eastern Time) Appointment scheduling instructions

Unsolicited Proposals

It is the policy of the U. S. Government to encourage the submission of new and innovative ideas in response to Broad Agency Announcements, Small Business Innovation Research topics, Small Business Technology Transfer Research topics, Program Research and Development Announcements, or any other Government-initiated solicitation or program. When the new and innovative ideas do not fall under topic areas publicized under those programs or techniques, the ideas may be submitted as unsolicited proposals.

Unsolicited proposals allow unique and innovative ideas or approaches that have been developed outside the Government to be made available to Government agencies for use in accomplishment of their missions. Unsolicited proposals are offered with the intent that the Government will enter into a contract with the offeror for research and development or other efforts supporting the Government mission, and often represent a substantial investment of time and effort by the offeror.

Preliminary contact with agency technical or other appropriate personnel before preparing a detailed unsolicited proposal or submitting proprietary information to the Government may save considerable time and effort for both parties. For more information see:

You’re Invited: Ninth District Day in Washington D.C.

Ninth District Day is an opportunity for constituents and leaders from the business community and others to gather for a half-day forum in Washington D.C. The event is being held Thursday, May 15th, from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn House Office Building, Rooms B338 and B339.

For more on this year’s speakers and to register visit:

If you’d like to share your opinion or ask a question about procurement issues, please contact Rebecca Snyder, Procurement Coordinator, at (253)896-3775 or

Friday, May 2, 2008

Technology Issues Update from Cong. Adam Smith

Smith Sponsors STEM-Green Card Bill to Help Address High Tech Workforce Needs

Congressman Adam Smith signed on as an original cosponsor of a bill that Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren will soon introduce to help international students get a green card if they earn a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) from a U.S. university, and get a job offer in their STEM field from a U.S. employer. Specifically, this legislation would allow an employer to offer a U.S.-based job in a STEM field to an international student holding an advanced degree from a U.S. university and file a green card petition for that employee.

“Our current H-1B visa system isn’t meeting the needs of employers. It makes sense to allow for a path to permanent legal status, instead of adding these students into the H-1B lottery. I will work hard to promote this bill,” Adam said.

Smith Urges Administration to Enforce EU Duty-Free Information Technology Agreement

Adam and several House colleagues will send a letter to President Bush this week urging enforcement of the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement. Adam and colleagues sent a similar letter to United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab last summer.

The European Union (EU) began adding tariffs on a variety of high-tech products that have enjoyed duty-free treatment under the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). This EU decision could seriously undermine the value of the ITA, a key World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement that spurred worldwide innovation, productivity, trade and investment.
Since its signing a decade ago, the ITA catalyzed growth in world trade – expanding access to IT products that help to power the global economy and facilitating worldwide digitalization. The products covered by the ITA include office productivity equipment (e.g., printers, fax machines, computers), telecommunications equipment, electronic components, semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Unfortunately, the EU placed new tariffs on imports of newer versions of ITA products on the grounds that additional functions provided on these products require customs reclassification. The EU's actions undermine the spirit and letter of the ITA, which requires its 69 signatories to bind and eliminate duties on covered products wherever they are classified.

Smith Supports Investment in America Act, Making Permanent the Research & Development Tax Credit

Adam and several colleagues sent a letter urging House Leadership to bring H.R. 2138, the Investment in America Act of 2007, to the House floor for prompt consideration. This bipartisan legislation will increase the alternative simplified credit for research expenses and make permanent the research and development (R&D) tax credit that plays an integral role in enhancing long-term economic growth and maintaining our nation’s strong position as a global innovator.

At a time of a sluggish economic output and increasing globalization, America’s prosperity depends more than ever on its capacity to innovate. For decades, our nation’s leadership in research has led to discoveries that dramatically improved living standards around the world, gave rise to new industries, and created millions of new jobs.

Adam believes we must help America’s companies compete against overseas firms by supporting a lasting R&D tax credit.

Smith Votes for Small Business Innovation Research & Technology Transfer Reauthorization

To help small businesses grow the economy and make them an even bigger player in technology innovation, the House last week passed H.R. 5819, the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act, to improve the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

“Dozens of Puget Sound-area small businesses have benefited from these two critical programs, which help bolster the hi-tech innovation our region is known for,” Adam said.

The SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act extends for a period of two years the Federal government's largest small business research and development programs, notably increasing funding for small research firms by half a billion dollars. The legislation also places an emphasis on research on alternative fuels and orphan diseases.

The measure ensures that small businesses receive these research and technology grants in a timely manner, expands commercialization to get the small businesses’ revolutionary technology to the market, increases competition for these small business awards to produce the greatest return for taxpayers, and allows venture capital-backed small businesses to participate in the program.

The legislation also establishes an initiative to increase participation from small firms owned by veterans, women and minorities and those located in rural areas, to diversify the program and increase competition for these important awards.

Director of DARPA Set to Speak at Smith's Ninth District Day
You’re Invited!

Ninth District Day is an opportunity for constituents and community leaders to gather for a half-day forum in Washington D.C. The event is being held Thursday, May 15th, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn House Office Building, Rooms B338 and B339.

To learn more about this year’s speakers or to register, visit:

If you’d like to share your opinion or ask a question about technology issues, please contact Linda Danforth, District Director, at 253.896.3782 or