Doing Business With: International Trade Administration


International Trade Administration

14th St. and Constitution Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20230



Jan. 2, 1980


Grant Aldonas



What it does

The International Trade Administration aids the growth of exports and helps U.S. businesses operate in the global marketplace.

It ensures fair international trade by enforcing U.S. trade laws and agreements, and improving access to overseas markets by identifying and pressing to remove trade barriers.

It also advises the Commerce Secretary on international trade issues.

Major subagencies

ITA is part of the Commerce Department and has four units: commercial service, trade development, market access and compliance, and import administration.

Number crunching

2005 request: $393.5 million

2004 budget: $329.7 million

2003 budget: $417.8 million


I didn't find much on the Web site about doing business with ITA. You may want to follow the advice of CIO Renee Macklin and first contact one of the agency's senior functional leads.

But the Web site does a thorough job of explaining what this agency does and how it can help you take your small business to overseas markets. If you can't do business with ITA, the agency may be able to help you do business elsewhere.

I think the "Overview: About ITA" Web page ( explains well the role each agency unit plays in international business and how to get it touch with each one. Check this out.

Also worth a look: TradeStats Express (, which gives you information on national, state and regional exports.

I did find info about doing specific business with ITA on the Commerce Department's main Web page. There you'll find information on the Special American Business Internship Training Program (http://www.commerce. gov/grants.html), an ITA technical assistance initiative. It offers competitive grants and an opportunity to host industry-specific delegations.

It's also an initial entry point for U.S. businesses that want funding for long-term relationships with potential customers, distributors or partners in the former Soviet Union.

Two other areas of interest on ITA's Web site are "Rebuilding Afghanistan" (http:// and "Rebuilding Iraq" (

These sites feature "doing business in" links with step-by-step information ranging from how to get there to business counseling resources.

At press time, the Rebuilding Iraq site was awaiting an update.

An interesting little stat: According to ITA, one of every 10 Americans owes his or her job to exports.

Renee Macklin


Full title: Chief information officer

Took the job: May 2001

Hometown: Washington

Home now: Olney, Md.

Family: Husband, who is a pastor; a daughter, 18, in college; a son, 15, a sophomore in high school

Hobbies: Reading, attending football and basketball games, and traveling

What is the last book you read? "The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?" by Rick Warren

Alma mater: Bachelor's of technology in computer systems from Rochester Institute of Technology, master's of science in information systems from The American University, master's certificate in project manage- ment from George Washington University


WT: How is information technology helping ITA to carry out its mission?

Macklin: The key to ITA's effectiveness lies in providing U.S. businesses with practical market and product information, better access to international markets, and safeguards against unfair competitive practices. From a practical standpoint, these three goals depend very much on information sharing, transactions and personal communications. We've made great strides in boosting our effectiveness in each of these areas using information technology.

For example, ITA's portal, selected by the administration as a showcase of e-government, provides a single entry point for citizens and businesses to locate information about overseas markets and best sales prospects; consolidates information from all the major export promotion agencies in the U.S. government, including the Export-Import Bank, Small Business Administration, and the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Outside of the United States, ITA's network of Web sites lets potential export partners find out about U.S. companies and their prospects. is an effective information tool, but we've leveraged its value by linking it to two information systems that handle online transactions. One is a subscription service called that provides online matchmaking between U.S. companies and overseas buyers. Another is ITA's secure, back-office financial system, which sits behind ITA's public Web sites and handles credit-card transactions.

This back-office system now handles more than 12,000 customer transactions each year, representing about $7 million in receipts, and this volume has grown 20 percent since fiscal 2002.

Of course, trade doesn't happen in a vacuum; U.S. businesses need to make personal contacts with overseas partners. To assist and augment those contacts, ITA uses its worldwide network to host videoconferences among U.S. businesses, government officials and overseas buyers. In this fiscal year alone, we facilitated about 130 conferences, and 20 percent of those featured high-level government officials, such as the Secretary of Commerce or his deputies.

WT: For a company that is new to working with the ITA and has something to offer you, where is a good place to start?

Macklin: Contact usually starts with an e-mail to one of senior functional leads, depending on what the company is selling: security, applications development, process engineering, etc. If we see something of interest, we initiate the follow-up process. We can't really afford the time to meet with every company that would like to market themselves to us, so e-mail is really the best starting point.

WT: What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?

Macklin: Experience in the federal [civilian] sector, working experience with organizations similar in size and scope to ITA (IT global experience), project experience that matches the kind of work for which we are contracting, and a customer focus. I focus a lot on performance metrics, so I look for companies that are performance-based with metrics. n

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