The Important Role of the Digital Attache in a New Trade Economy

October 25, 2016

eBay’s Tekedra Mawakana, Vice President for Global Government Relations and Public Policy, and Caitlin Brosseau, Senior Manager for Government Relations, host the Department of Commerce's Digital Attaches for a tour of eBay’s Silicon Valley campus

Guest blog post by Caitlin Brosseau, Senior Manager for Governement Relations, eBay 

Recently, eBay had the pleasure of hosting a Department of Commerce delegation at our San Jose, California campus for a tour and discussion around partnership opportunities to support small business ecommerce exporting. Included in that delegation were six of the Department’s digital attaches, who have been strategically stationed at U.S. Embassies across the globe to be the policy and technical experts on issues impacting the digital economy. The digital attaches are also tasked with promoting US exports through ecommerce.

Often when people think of eBay, they think of just an ecommerce site. But what you might not know is that eBay hosts 165 million active users in 190 countries and has over one billion listings. We are a window to the world for American entrepreneurs that are looking to open their storefront to global customers. In fact, our data shows that 97% of our US commercial sellers export to customers overseas, compared to less than 5% of their offline counterparts. Furthermore, these sellers make sales to customers in 18 countries on average, including Canada, Russia, Australia, and others. 

As a globally recognized ecommerce platform, eBay supported the creation of the International Trade Administration’s Digital Attaché program because we agree with Secretary Pritzker that small businesses should take advantage of the digital economy. We at eBay have seen first-hand that internet platforms break down traditional barriers to small business exporting, like currency and language conversion or even shipping (the Global Shipping Program is one example). Quite simply - internet-based technology is empowering small American businesses to grow through exporting. 

Take, for example, Brian Robinson of Canton, Ohio, and his business, The Music Far. Approximately 40 percent of The Music Farm’s sales are to customers overseas. That added revenue from international sales enables Brian to create jobs in Canton and support community-focused initiatives, like providing band instruments to local schools.

Secretary Pritzker recently announced an expansion of the Digital Attache program. We at eBay agree that expanding the Digital Attache program is an important step in ensuring that the U.S. digital economy – including small businesses – remains competitive both domestically and abroad. By locating digital economy experts in even more U.S. embassies, internet-enabled businesses in the U.S. will have new insight into valuable exporting opportunities as well as in-country experts to turn to when faced with digital market access challenges. 

This program expansion is a win-win for the U.S. digital economy and has great potential to ensure American small businesses benefit from global ecommerce opportunity. We at eBay look forward to working with the Department of Commerce in its mission to promote America’s digital economy domestically and abroad.

This blog originally appeared on the Department of Commerce website.