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Certified Trade Mission Conditions of Participation

A. Overview

Commercial Service (formally referred to as the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service) Certified Trade Missions are overseas events planned, organized, and led by federal agencies or non-federal export promotion organizations (such as industry trade associations, agencies of state and local governments, chambers of commerce, regional groups, and other export-oriented groups) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Certified Trade Missions provide a flexible format in which to conduct overseas business. U.S. companies meet face to face with potential agents, distributors, joint venture partners, licensees, relevant businesses and government contacts. Seminars on local business practices with participation by banks, lawyers, and other authorities can be arranged. Special working level events are also available to further enhance the event, which may also include plant and factory tours or follow a seminar format for technical products. Within the mission's framework, Commercial Service overseas posts provide guidance and support to mission organizers and participating companies on the mission.

B. Criteria

To qualify for Commercial Service certification, the mission must have, as a primary objective, the promotion of U.S.-produced goods and services and/or the establishment of marketing representation abroad. Goods and/or services promoted must either be manufactured or produced in the United States, or, if manufactured or produced outside of the United States, be marketed under the name of a U.S. firm and have U.S. content representing at least fifty-one percent of the value of the finished goods or services.

Products/services represented on the mission must be a compatible group within a product theme (or themes) that, in the Commercial Service's determination, offers substantial market opportunities. Single-industry theme (vertical) missions are preferable because promotional efforts can be targeted more effectively toward appropriate end-user audiences. Advance concurrence of the overseas posts on the product mix of the mission and its itinerary and timing is required.

To participate in a Commercial Service Certified Trade Mission, the organizer must enter into a participation agreement with the post(s) hosting the mission. Generally, this agreement will incorporate the following Conditions of Participation, which post(s) and organizer may modify by mutual consent. Sponsoring organizations should apply by submitting an Application for Certified Trade Mission Organizers to the appropriate overseas post(s).

Federal Government agencies seeking certification will coordinate through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) events working group before approaching the overseas Commercial Service post(s).

For additional information, please contact your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center.

C. Conditions

Responsibilities of the Organizer

The organizer shall:

1. Submit to the appropriate overseas post(s) a typed and signed Application for Certified Trade Mission Organizers (OMB No. 0625-0215--see attached form) as early as 12 months but no later than 6 months prior to the departure of the mission.

Note: In unusual circumstances and when it is advantageous to the U.S. Government, the Commercial Service post in question may alter this requirement.

2. Upon notification of approval of the Application for Certified Trade Mission Organizers by the Commercial Service post involved, enter into a binding Participation Agreement (OMB No. 0625-0143) that incorporates the customized Conditions of Participation. A separate Conditions of Participation should be signed for each Commercial Service post involved.

3. Provide, at its expense, and identify to the overseas post a project officer, an advance officer, and a mission director not later than 90 days prior to the departure of the mission. Further, ensure that the advance officer and mission director carry out the responsibilities set forth in Sections C and D, below.

Note: This requirement may be adjusted to meet the preferences of the Commercial Service post in question. Such adjustment will be agreed in writing between the organizer and the Commercial Service Post involved and made a part of the Conditions of Participation.

4. Work directly with the appropriate Commercial Service post to develop a comprehensive budget for the mission. It is understood and agreed that the budget will cover all services required to meet the needs of the mission.

5. Submit to the overseas post(s) complete payment of mission-related costs that the Commercial Service post(s) have agreed to incur overseas on the mission's behalf, not later than 60 days prior to the departure of the mission. Such costs may include, for example, expenses incurred for the following: Mission promotion, translation services, appointment scheduling, site rentals, secretarial assistance, over time of Commercial Service personnel, hospitality and transportation. Costs incurred directly by the sponsoring organization in connection with the mission will not be reimbursed by the Department.

6. Submit to the overseas office a final list of mission participants, product/service data, and precise business objectives of the mission participants (including any relevant company brochures) not later than 60 days prior to the departure of the mission.

Note: At the discretion of the Commercial Service post, this requirement may be adjusted provided it is agreed in writing between the organizer and the Commercial Service post and made a part of the Conditions of Participation.

7. With guidance from the Commercial Service post, ensure that printed mission directories in appropriate quantities are received by the Commercial Service post 45 days prior to departure of the mission. The Commercial Service post will advise whether or not these should be translated into the language of the country.

8. Ensure that mission participation includes a minimum of five U.S.-based firms, with the maximum number of participants to be determined in agreement between the organizer and the Commercial Service post and made a part of the Conditions of Participation.

9. Comply, as appropriate, with the financial provisions of Section E and the bonding provisions of Section F, below.

10. Ensure that fee arrangements with participants do not include a commission on eventual sales or quantifiable results generated by the mission.

11. Ensure that all products and services promoted by mission participants are:

(a) Manufactured or produced in the United States, or

(b) If manufactured or produced outside of the United States, marketed under the name of a U.S. firm, with U.S. content representing at least fifty-one percent of the value of the finished goods or services.

12. Carry out the mission as described in the Application for Certified Trade Mission Organizers unless approved by the Commercial Service post in writing.

13. Hold the U.S. Government harmless from liability for any illness, injury, loss of life, or damage or loss of property occasioned by or connected with the mission, participation therein by any person, and support provided by the Department, and its employees, agents and contractors.

14. Provide the Department with a final mission report within 30 days after the conclusion of the mission, incorporating participants’ results and comments as reported in the distributed Mission/Exhibition Evaluation Survey.

Responsibilities of the Commercial Service

The certification of trade missions is administered by the Commercial Service at the overseas post(s). All decisions regarding the proposed mission are at the discretion of the Commercial Service.

The Commercial Service post shall, within the limits of the agreed budget and personnel resources:

1. Designate the mission as an official Certified Trade Mission, recognizing the services of the sponsoring organization and of the mission participants in helping to increase the international commerce of the United States.

2. Ensure that the Certified Trade Mission is entered into the database of trade promotion events (e-Menu) on the Commercial Service intranet.

3. Provide advice and assistance from the planning stage to the conclusion of the mission.

4. Provide available economic, commercial and political data to aid the partnership organization in its selection of an itinerary that offers the best marketing potential for the products, services, or investment opportunities to be promoted, and update such information as necessary prior to departure of the mission.

5. Provide assistance to the advance officer designated by the partnership organization, e.g., lists of local-hire personnel, translators, hotels and caterers.

6. Assist in arranging business appointments for each mission participant; or, if resources are limited, assist a contractor of the sponsoring organization, working under the supervision of the affected overseas post(s), in identifying prospective customers, agents, distributors, investors and key government officials with whom business appointments can be made.

7. Arrange for commercial, economic, and political briefings, and assist in arranging relevant tours, inspections and seminars.

8. Facilitate use of the Embassy Press Office to publicize the mission abroad.

9. Collect a completed Mission/Exhibition Evaluation Survey from each participant before he/she departs the country.

Note: Participants are not required to complete this form, but they will be encouraged to do so.

U.S. Export Assistance Center  Trade Specialists (TSs) are expected to work closely with the organizers of CTMs and are encouraged to suggest the development of such missions, as appropriate. TSs should perform the following functions:

1. Provide background information to posts on specific organizations seeking CTM status, as known by the USEAC. Refer mission organizers to posts.  OIO must be copied on any communication originating from the USEAC relating to the status of the CTM.

2. If requested, develop market information packages for reproduction and dissemination by sponsoring mission organizer.

3. Publicize the mission in EAC newsletters and promote the mission to EAC clients who might be interested in participating.

4. EAC directors may assign a trade specialist as an in-house project officer to assist an individual CTM.

5. EAC trade specialists, if possible, should contact individual trade mission participants and provide those who are infrequent exporters with pre- and post-mission value added counseling that may lead to an export action. Counseling should include export financing documentation and market research.

6. Report all export successes and client feedback to posts and the OIO regional director. Be sure to credit post in export successes.

Responsibilities of the Sponsoring Organizer's Advance Officer

Where it is agreed between the Commercial Service post and the sponsoring organization that an advance officer is necessary, the advance officer shall:

1. Arrange a time in writing beneficial to both the appropriate Commercial Service post(s) and the partnership organization to begin his or her advance travel. Generally, this will be approximately 90 days prior to departure of the mission.

2. Confirm with each affected overseas post his or her specific itinerary and travel schedule not later than 15 days prior to his or her departure.

3. Carry information and product literature for each mission participant in sufficient quantities to leave at least one set at each affected overseas post.

4. Carry funds and international credit cards, with full authority to commit funds for mission expenses.

5. Work directly with each affected overseas post to develop the mission program and finalize the mission budget at each stop.

Responsibilities of the Mission Director

The sponsoring organization's mission director shall:

1. Ensure that mission participants adhere to the mission program and promptly keep all individual appointments at each stop.

2. Carry additional mission funds and international credit cards to ensure that all mission expenses not previously deposited with the Commercial Service post are paid before leaving each stop, and that mission participants' bills are similarly paid.

3. Ensure that each mission participant:

(a) Is fully responsible for his or her individual travel and personal expenses;

(b) Makes all necessary arrangements for entry permit visas and other travel documentation;

(c) Is an active member or representative of his or her firm; and

(d) Is qualified and authorized to quote prices and negotiate sales and other terms on behalf of his or her firm.

Financial Provisions

1. Sponsoring organizations that are federal agencies or quasi-federal agencies shall:

(a) Describe at the time of application where individual participation fees will be deposited, e.g., with the sponsoring agency or Commercial Service;

(b) Describe at the time of application the method of payment to be used. Options include:

( I) Full payment by check (made payable to the U.S. Department of Commerce) with submission of Participation Agreement;

(ii) Cable from agency to overseas post(s) transferring payment and authorizing spending; or

(iii) Interagency transfer of funds with submission of Participation Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding; and

(c) Provide original copies of payment documents to the Department for processing not less than 60 days prior to mission departure.

2. Sponsoring state organizations that are legally prohibited from providing prepayment as described in Section A shall provide to the Department not less than 60 days prior to mission departure a legally binding document, such as a purchase order in U.S. dollars or a letter of intent, committing to provide 50 percent of the mission budget, within 5 working days of the conclusion of the mission. The remaining balance is due upon receipt of final invoice(s) from the affected overseas post(s). Sponsoring organizations should contact the overseas post(s) for prior approval of language that purports to legally bind the organization.

3. All other sponsoring organizations will handle payment as described in C.A.5 and C.D.2 above unless agreed in writing and made a part of the "Conditions of Participation."

Bonding Provisions

1. For-profit sponsoring organizations shall obtain a bond from a surety company holding a certificate of authority from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Financial Management Service, as periodically published in the Federal Register.

2. The bond will ensure that a mission participant can recover a participation fee paid to the sponsoring organization, as well as any other reasonable pre-paid transportation costs, should the sponsoring organization fail to meet its obligations to the mission participant concerning the mission.

The amount of the bond must be sufficient to cover these fees and estimated transportation costs.

3. The bonding agreement must be signed by the sponsoring organization (principal) and a bonding company (surety). A bond beneficiary is defined as an individual or entity from which, or on behalf of which, the principal receives and retains a participant fee for the mission.

4. Bonds will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as there is no standard form agreement.

5. An executed and pre-paid-in-full bond must be completed, and a copy of this bonding document shall be presented to the Commercial Service post before approval of the trade mission will be granted.

6. A copy of the bond must be made available to mission participants either by the sponsoring organization or the bonding company.

7. The bond requirement does not constitute a guarantee by the Department of reimbursement for financial losses to mission participants in connection with the mission.

8. Should either party terminate the bond agreement, the terminating party must notify the Department and make a reasonable effort to notify the bond beneficiaries. Therefore, the organizer must provide a listing of all mission participants, including valid mailing addresses, to the bonding company no later than 30 days prior to departure of the mission.


1. All notice of cancellations must be in writing. Upon written notice of cancellation of the mission, the Department will secure an accounting by the affected overseas post(s) of costs incurred by them in connection with the mission. Such costs may include those incurred for fax/phone, postage, personnel overtime, printing, and contract services. If such costs exceed the amount previously received, or if no funds have been received, the Department will bill the sponsoring organization for the amount of the excess or its costs, as applicable.

Acceptance of Terms

On behalf of the partnership organization named in the attached Participation Agreement, I certify that I have read and understand the Conditions of Participation, which are incorporated into and form a part of said Agreement.

Signature: __________________________________________________

Name and title: __________________________________________________

Organization: __________________________________________________

Date: __________________________________

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