Monday, March 9, 2009

From Seattle to DC and Back (Part 4)

Besides doing tariff requests through email, I have begun answering calls at my internship; the majority of these calls are people asking for HS codes so I have to refer them to the census bureau to get these for their products. The other portion of calls are from exporters that have their HS codes and want to know tariff rates and taxes. At first I felt intimidated by the phones as it feels people are waiting for an answer and I wasn’t used to getting information from the databases yet but this took only a few phone calls to get down and now the process goes by smoothly. Besides answering phones I have also been working on updating export data for a China and India presentation that will be taking place in Oklahoma City. Another project I was working on was an excel file with taxes on imports for every country we trade with. An interesting project I have been assigned is finding exporters of various products for the finance minister to the president of the Congo.

The events I have attended were a lecture on the Philippines and their counterinsurgency operations. China was mentioned when they were trying to build a road in a Maoist guerrilla held area and the guerrillas demand payment but the Chinese argued that they were both Maoist so why should they pay but the guerrillas argued that the Chinese are revisionist and demanded payment anyways. Another event that I really enjoyed was a presentation at SAIS on a career in the Foreign Service. This presentation gave a real clarity to what a Foreign Service Officer and the State Department do. Recently there have been a number of events dealing with China and US-China relations among other events that I have attended throughout the last two weeks. Of note was the ‘Smart Power in US-China Relations’ report of the CSIS Commission on China that consisted in a diversity of speakers from different specialties.

Nathan Gardner
Boeing Fellow
International Trade Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce