government affairs blog

A Holiday Message to Congress: Do Something!

Posted by Aaron Lowe on December 16, 2013

This is the final blog for 2013, and what a year it has been in the nation’s capital. The federal government was shut down for a couple of weeks, the government came close to defaulting on its debt payments, and the rollout of one of the most important government programs in decades was a total failure, as millions failed to be able to access government websites to purchase health insurance. And that was just during the fall of this year! What lies ahead for 2014?

A glimmer of hope this December was the passage last week by the House, despite strong opposition from some tea party legislators, of a modest two-year budget deal that was the bi-partisan work product of Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The Senate vote is still not a sure thing, but as of this morning Senate leaders were optimistic that it will get done. No, this deal is not going to cure our nation’s bulging deficits, but hopefully it will keep the government funding issue out of crisis mode for a little while anyway.

My optimist side hopes that legislators will take the cooperation on the budget and decide to work together to attempt to take on some of the nation’s top issues such as entitlement reform, a long-term transportation infrastructure funding bill, and tax reform that levels the playing field for all businesses. The realist side of me knows that passage of most of these goals is not likely with a congressional election coming down the road. What is more likely is a more limited agenda where legislators seek to avoid negative publicity of a government shutdown, but avoid taking on issues or supporting compromises that might anger their political base. Thus we “kick the can down the road,” hoping that a future Congress will take on the difficult problems.

Unfortunately, in our current political system, “compromise” has become a dirty word as legislators up for election are fearful that supporting anything that does not stand up for conservative or liberal values will mean a primary challenge from someone further to the left or right. While standing up for your values is always an enviable trait, without practical compromises, no legislation ever moves forward. It seems that the only way that this trend will be broken is if voters and the business community support candidates that reflect the political tendencies of their constituents, but that also want to come to Washington to get things done. Unfortunately, with all of the hand wringing in Washington about the do-nothing Congress, it is hard to know whether the voters have had enough or whether we will see the parties further cement themselves in their positions over the next several years.

So my holiday wish is that legislators come back from their holiday break anxious to take on some of the big issues facing U.S. businesses and citizens by working with each other to find agreements that might not be perfect, but that moves the ball forward. Short of that, I guess I will just settle for peace on Earth… not sure which one may be more achievable.

Happy holidays to all AAIA members and their families from your government affairs staff. Here’s to a happy and healthy and productive New Year!

Keywords: Congress, Lobbying

AAPEX Opens the World to AAIA Members

Posted by Andres Castrillon on December 09, 2013

Participating in trade shows is among the most effective ways for companies to enter into new international markets or expand their visibility in existing markets. Trade shows offer the opportunity to meet potential foreign buyers, test foreign market interest, gather valuable market intelligence and evaluate the competition.

In response to member feedback, AAIA’s programs and activities during AAPEX 2013 reflected a new, more focused international trade promotion program aimed at helping our members compete more effectively in the global market place. AAPEX promises participants the opportunity to grow their business, and what better way to do that than to connect with the 95% of consumers that live outside U.S. borders? In 2013 AAIA worked harder than ever to make AAPEX a platform for opening the world to AAIA members.

Bringing the World to Your Booth. More than 16,000 international buyers attended AAPEX 2013. Additionally, more than 450 buyers visited AAPEX as members of 12 international buying delegations. The U.S. Commercial Service (USCS), the export promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, led nine of the 12 delegations with buyers from Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nigeria, Spain and Turkmenistan.

AAIA has been working closely with the USCS’s global automotive team to promote the export of automotive goods and services from the United States, and to help AAIA members find qualified international partners. Prior to AAPEX, AAIA staff hosted a webinar for USCS automotive specialists to help them better understand the car care industry and how to use AAIA’s vast member network to identify export-ready companies. During AAPEX, AAIA staff hosted several meetings with USCS leaders that generated many ideas for mutual cooperation.

Member Engagement. AAIA’s international segment, the Auto International Association (AIA), has been working closely with AAIA staff to better define the association’s international goals and priorities. During AAPEX 2013, AIA hosted two focus groups conducted by a third party facilitator. One session was for the member companies and the other session was for international associations. The member session was aimed at understanding members’ international trade challenges and what role AAIA can play in helping overcome those challenges. The association session was aimed at identifying opportunities for cooperation with AAIA’s international partners. The sessions were well-received and will help AAIA better respond to member’s international needs.

International Partner Engagement. AAIA staff met individually with several international groups to explore opportunities for cooperation. The groups included:

  • Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)
  • Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA)
  • ProExport Colombia
  • Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA)
  • Italian Trade Commission (ITC)
  • Latin Auto Parts Expo
  • Brazilian Auto Parts Manufacturers Association (Sindipecas)
  • Russian Trade Representation

Foreign Market Intelligence. AIA organized three “Global Market Update” sessions highlighting export opportunities for AAIA members in Colombia, India and Australia. AIA plans on offering similar webinars throughout the year. AIA also presented an education session, in partnership with the USCS, which gave an overview of U.S. government export assistance programs and highlighted key export opportunities for U.S. auto parts manufacturers.

Advocacy. Two high-ranking Commerce officials attended the show and met with AAIA staff and some members to discuss AAIA’s international trade concerns. The officials were:

  • Daniel Green, Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Market Access and Compliance (MAC) Office at the Embassy of the United States in Beijing, China
  • Chandra Brown, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, U.S. Department of Commerce

AAIA is committed to making AAPEX a key tool for its members to identify and achieve their international goals. For more information on AAIA’s international programs and resources, please contact Andres Castrillon at

Keywords: AAPEX, Trade