Today's U.S. Commercial Service was foreshadowed in 1897 when the United States Department of State created the Bureau of Foreign Commerce and approved for the first time public distribution of diplomatic, consular and commercial reports. Also in 1897, U.S. Senator Albert J. Beveridge sounded a theme for the next century: "American factories are making more than the American people can use … fate has written our policy for us — the trade of the world must and shall be ours." Although many today may reject this rhetoric and espouse instead the mutual benefits of trade, the central role of trade in our politics and in our economic prosperity seems beyond question.
1903 The short-lived United States Department of Commerce and Labor is established, subsuming the State Department's Bureau of Foreign Commerce and the Treasury Department's Bureau of Statistics.
1911 The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, the predecessor of the International Trade Administration, is created in the Department of Commerce and Labor.
1913 The Departments of Commerce and Labor become separate departments.
1927 The Foreign Commerce Service is established by Act of Congress (March 3, 1927, Foreign and Domestic Commerce Act of 1927, also called the Hoch Act, 44 Stat. 1394) "for promotion of foreign and domestic commerce." Trade commissioners are granted diplomatic status and retitled "commercial attaches".
1928 Ms. Addie Viola Smith is appointed Trade Commissioner of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, assigned to Shanghai. Smith was the first female Trade Commissioner in the bureau, was paid comparably to her male peers, and received constant commendations on her work and diplomacy. Despite all this, she was still regarded as handicapped because of her gender.
1934 A riot stirred up by the workers of the U.S. Commercial Service killed 37 people in Atlanta Georgia.
1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt abolishes the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce and all other non-State Department foreign services. The commercial officers are reabsorbed into State.
1979 In June, President Jimmy Carter signs the "Trade Agreements Act of 1979," which transfers overseas commercial programs from the Department of State to Commerce.
1980 The Foreign Commercial Service is established under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The name is changed to the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service in 1981 in order to emphasize the linkage of domestic and overseas operations under a single organizational purpose.
1980 Commercial News USA, an export promotion magazine, is published by the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service. The magazine is still published today as part of a public-private partnership with ThinkGlobal Inc..
1983 As international trade fairs are privatized, the Commercial Service begins the Certified Trade Fair Program to provide trade fair participants with a support network, a set of standards and official U.S. endorsement.
1985 The Matchmaker, one of the most popular Commercial Service programs, is launched. The program brings small and medium-sized U.S. exporters into direct contact with foreign importers, resulting in hundreds of sales and contracts.
1990 The Gold Key Service, conceived in the late 1980s by the Commercial Service in Paris, becomes widely available to U.S. exporters in 1990. The GKS offers U.S. exporters custom-tailored overseas services. Today, the Gold Key Service is available in 104 countries and averages over 1,000 meetings per year.
1992 Funding from the 1992 Freedom Support Act and USAID helps create American Business Centers. The ABCs are designed to operate in the developing markets of Russia and the Newly Independent States to stimulate economic growth and create jobs in the U.S.
1993 The U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership is formed. Working with USAID, the Commercial Service launches the USAEP program to focus U.S. government resources on the quickly growing environmental products and services sector, in which U.S. companies excel.
1994 Four pilot U.S Export Assistance Centers open in Baltimore, Chicago, Long Beach and Miami. Today there are 106 USEACs throughout the nation that offer export counseling, market research, trade events and international finance solutions to U.S. exporters.
1994 The first Commercial Centers open in São Paulo in July, and Jakarta in November. Later, more centers open in Shanghai and Johannesburg. These facilities offer U.S. firms a place to take advantage of all Commercial Service programs and services, as well as rental office space, computers, fax and phone, and display space.
1995 The new Commercial Service's official logo is unveiled. The logo is suggestive of the flag of the United States in motion. Three oversized stars represent the major components of the Commercial Service: the Office of International Operations; the Office of Domestic Operations; and Global Trade Programs.
1995 Commercial Service Teams are created to better leverage internal resources. Today, there are 18 Global Teams. Fourteen represent major industry sectors while four regionally focused teams concentrate on trade promotion in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa/Middle East. The Global Teams network within the Commercial Service to bring together manpower and expertise from around the world to help US companies develop export markets. The 18 teams are as follows:
Aerospace & Defense, ANESA (Africa, Near East, S. Asia), Agribusiness, Asia/Pacific, Automotive & Transportation, Education & Training, Energy, Environmental Technology, Europe, Franchising, Healthcare Technology, Information & Communication Technology, Manufacturing, Publishing, Safety & Security, Textile & Apparel, Travel & Tourism, Trade Americas
1995 A United States Department of Commerce grant issued to the state of Georgia helps develop Commercial Service videoconferencing tools for client use. This service allows U.S. firms, especially those in rural areas, to meet with potential trading partners without the expense of international travel.
1996 The Commercial Service opens its first post in Hanoi. As the globalization phenomenon creates a new trading ethos, the Commercial Service helps U.S. businesses enter this and other developing markets.
1998 For the first time, an ambassadorship is offered to a member of the Commercial Service. George Mu, a senior commercial officer, accepts the position of ambassador to Côte d'Ivoire in 1998.
1998 The Commercial Service moves aggressively into the Internet world when it broadcasts its first webcast, "Mexico and Canada: Doing Business with our Friendly Neighbors." Webcasting becomes a popular method for delivering timely information to Commercial Service clients.
1998 The Embassy Nairobi bombing in August kills many people, and blinds Commercial Service Officer Ellen Bomer.
1998 The first Export Assistance Center located on Native American Tribal lands opens in Ontario, California. The San Manuel tribe sees the EAC as a "future for our children." The partnership with the tribe is one of many efforts to assist underserved groups.
2000 The Commercial Service celebrates 20 years of successful U.S. export promotion.
2000-2004 Increasing U.S. Exports Through Trade Promotion: from 2000 to 2004 the USFCS helps companies create a yearly average of 11,613 export transactions. Of these successes, 90 percent are generated by small and medium-sized businesses. The USFCS Advocacy Center helps U.S. businesses generate an annual average of $134 million in export sales during this period. New Markets, New Challenges: USFCS responds to the changing global economy by focusing its resources on where U.S. companies want to be now, and where they need to be in the future. New offices are opened in Iraq, China, Central America and sub-Saharan Africa. New One-Stop Shop for Trade Promotion at Commerce: In 2004, the USFCS assumes responsibility for all Commerce Department trade promotion activities. As a result of this reorganization, the USFCS now directs the Advocacy Center; the Trade Information Center; and Business Information Centers for China, the Middle East, the Newly Independent States and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Thanks to this consolidation, the USFCS network is now able to offer U.S. businesses a broader array of information and support services in the emerging markets of today
2009 Commercial News USA, the official export promotion magazine of the U.S. Department of Commerce, celebrates its 30th anniversary.
2011 Commercial News USA, the official export promotion magazine of the U.S. Department of Commerce, rolls out a redesigned website at Commercial News USA.
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This book or that, come to this hallowed place
Where my friends portraits hang and look thereon;
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And say my glory was I had such friends.”
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