Vanessa M. Leiby is executive director of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn., a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization that…
Aug 19, 2015

Addressing Barriers to Trade in Top World Markets

The Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn. (WWEMA) is one of the most active industry groups promoting fair and open trade practices both within and outside U.S. borders. As an active member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee (ETTAC), the association and its members regularly share with federal officials the challenges facing U.S. technology manufacturers attempting to do business internationally.

In addition to my own seat on the committee, WWEMA has representation in ETTAC through members Jack Adams of Calgon Carbon Corp., Bill Decker of Aqua-Aerobic Systems, Al Cho of Xylem Inc. and George Vorsheim of Environment One Corp.

In July, based on extensive research, including the work of ETTAC, the International Trade Administration (ITA) issued 2015 Top Markets Report: Environmental Technologies. This report identifies those markets in which U.S. policy and promotional activities could have the most potential impact based on analysis of the size of the markets and the nature of the barriers to be overcome.

The report identifies the top 50 markets for each segment of the environmental technology sector, including water. It then goes on to address in depth the opportunities and challenges presented within the top eight water markets: China, India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and Korea.

The importance of U.S. manufacturers being able to enter these markets and overcome barriers such as local content restrictions, intellectual property concerns, high tariffs, and differences in standards and certifications cannot be overstated. The report underscores the urgent nature of the issue as follows: “The U.S. market is large and, until recently, substantial enough to support the business aspirations of many U.S. environmental technology providers. However, saturation in the U.S. market coupled with explosive growth in emerging markets makes international growth inextricably linked with companies’ growth. Small- and medium-sized enterprises need to identify markets where their technologies are in demand and develop the business relationships that will lead to future sales.”

The future success of many U.S. water and wastewater equipment manufacturers depends on their ability to do business abroad. WWEMA applauds the ITA’s efforts in producing this report and identifying the ways in which U.S. policy and promotion can facilitate trade in these existing and emerging markets. I encourage all of the manufacturers, engineers, contractors and others concerned with doing business internationally to review the report to better understand the opportunities and challenges presented.

WWEMA looks forward to continuing to work with the Commerce Department to represent the views and needs of the water and wastewater industry.

Vanessa M. Leiby is executive director of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn., a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization that has represented the interests of manufacturers serving the water supply and wastewater treatment industry since 1908. Leiby can be reached at [email protected].