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Notice

Announcement of the Quality Samples Program

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AGENCY:

Commodity Credit Corporation, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

Commodity Credit Corporation is inviting proposals for the Quality Samples Program.

DATES:

All proposals must be received by 5 p.m. eastern standard time, March 10, 2003.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Marketing Operations Staff, Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 4932-S, STOP 1042, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-1042, (202) 720-4327.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces that proposals may be submitted for participation in the Quality Samples Program (QSP). The QSP is designed to encourage the development and expansion of export markets for U.S. agricultural commodities by assisting U.S. entities in providing commodity samples to potential foreign importers to promote a better understanding and appreciation for the high quality of U.S. agricultural commodities. All proposals will be reviewed against the evaluation criteria Start Printed Page 2488contained herein and funds will be awarded on a competitive basis. Financial assistance will be made available on a reimbursement basis. The QSP is administered by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Under the QSP, CCC enters into agreements with those entities whose proposals have been accepted. The QSP agreement between CCC and the participant will include the maximum amount of CCC funds that may be used to reimburse certain activity costs that have been approved by CCC and paid by the QSP participant. QSP participants will be responsible for procuring (or arranging for the procurement of) commodity samples, exporting the samples, and providing the technical assistance necessary to facilitate successful use of the samples by importers. Participants that are funded under this announcement may seek reimbursement for the sample purchase price and the costs of transporting the samples domestically to the port of export and then to the foreign port of entry. Transportation costs from the foreign port, or point, of entry to the final destination will not be eligible for reimbursement. CCC will not reimburse the costs incidental to purchasing and transporting samples, for example, inspection or documentation fees. Although providing technical assistance is required for all projects, CCC will not reimburse the costs of providing technical assistance. A QSP participant will be reimbursed after CCC reviews its reimbursement claim and determines that the claim is complete.

QSP agreements are subject to review and verification by the FAS Compliance Review Staff. Upon request, a QSP participant shall provide to CCC the original documents which support the participant's reimbursement claims. CCC may deny a claim for reimbursement if the claim is not supported by adequate documentation. Cash advances will not be made available to any QSP participant.

This notice supercedes any prior notices concerning the QSP.

Authority

The QSP is authorized under section 5(f) of the CCC Charter Act, 15 U.S.C. 714c(f).

General Scope of QSP Projects

QSP projects are the activities undertaken by a QSP participant to provide an appropriate sample of a U.S. agricultural commodity to a foreign importer, or a group of foreign importers, in a given market. The purpose of the project is to provide information to an appropriate target audience regarding the attributes, characteristics, and proper use of the U.S. commodity. A QSP project addresses a single market/commodity combination. As a general matter, QSP projects should conform to the following guidelines:

  • Projects should benefit the represented U.S. industry and not a specific company or brand;
  • Projects should develop a new market for a U.S. product, promote a new U.S. product, or promote a new use for a U.S. product, rather than promote the substitution of one established U.S. product for another;
  • Sample commodities provided under a QSP project must be in sufficient supply and available on a commercial basis;
  • The QSP project must either subject the commodity sample to further processing or substantial transformation in the importing country, or the sample must be used in technical seminars designed to demonstrate to an appropriate target audience the proper preparation or use of the sample in the creation of an end product;
  • Samples provided in a QSP project shall not be directly used as part of a retail promotion or supplied directly to consumers. However, the end product, that is, the product resulting from further processing, substantial transformation, or a technical seminar, may be provided to end use consumers to demonstrate to importers consumer preference for that end product; and
  • Samples shall be in quantities less than a typical commercial sale and limited to the amount sufficient to achieve the project goal (e.g., not more than a full commercial mill run in the destination country).

QSP projects shall target foreign importers and target audiences who:

  • Have not previously purchased the U.S. commodity which will be transported under the QSP;
  • Are unfamiliar with the variety, quality attribute, or end-use characteristic of the U.S. commodity which will be transported under the QSP;
  • Have been unsuccessful in previous attempts to import, process, and market the U.S. commodity which will be transported under the QSP (e.g., because of improper specification, blending, or formulation; or sanitary or phytosanitary (SPS) issues);
  • Are interested in testing or demonstrating the benefits of the U.S. commodity which will be transported under the QSP; or
  • Need technical assistance in processing or using the U.S. commodity that will be transported under the QSP.

Under this announcement, the number of projects per participant will not be limited. However, individual projects will be limited to $75,000 of QSP reimbursement. Projects comprised of technical preparation seminars, that is, projects that do not include further processing or substantial transformation, will be limited to $15,000 of QSP reimbursement as these projects require smaller samples.

Proposal Process

In order to be considered for participation in the QSP, interested parties should submit proposals to FAS as described in this notice. QSP proposals must contain complete information about the proposed projects. This notice is complemented by concurrent notices announcing four other foreign market development programs administered by FAS, including the Market Access Program (MAP), the Foreign Market Development Cooperator (Cooperator) Program, the Emerging Markets Program, the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program, and the Section 108 Foreign Currency Program.

The MAP and Cooperator Program notices detail a Unified Export Strategy (UES) application process which provides a means for interested applicants to submit a consolidated and strategically coordinated single proposal that incorporates funding requests for any or all of these programs. Some applicants to the QSP, particularly those who also are applying for funding under the MAP or Cooperator Program, are encouraged to use the UES application process. The Internet-based UES application, including step-by-step instructions for its use, is located at the following URL address: http://www.fas.usda.gov/​cooperators.html. Other applicants should follow the application procedures contained in this notice.

Entities interested in participating in the QSP are not required to submit proposals in any specific format; however, FAS recommends that proposals contain, at a minimum, the following:

(a) Organizational information, including:

  • Organization's name, address, Chief Executive Officer (or designee), and Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN);
  • Type of organization;
  • Name, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address of the primary contact person;
  • A description of the organization and its membership; Start Printed Page 2489
  • A description of the organization's prior export promotion experience; and
  • A description of the organization's experience in implementing an appropriate trade/technical assistance component;

(b) Market information, including:

  • An assessment of the market;
  • A long-term strategy in the market; and
  • U.S. export value/volume and market share (historic and goals) for 1999-2004;

(c) Project information, including:

  • A brief project title;
  • Amount of funding requested;
  • A brief description of the specific market development trade constraint or opportunity to be addressed by the project, performance measures for the years 2003-2005 which will be used to measure the effectiveness of the project, a benchmark performance measure for 2002, the viability of long term sales to this market, the goals of the project, and the expected benefits to the represented industry;
  • A description of the activities planned to address the constraint or opportunity, including how the sample will be used in the end-use performance trial, the attributes of the sample to be demonstrated and their end-use benefit, and details of the trade/technical servicing component (including who will provide and who will fund this component);
  • A sample description (i.e., commodity, quantity, quality, type, and grade), including a justification for selecting a sample with such characteristics (this justification should explain in detail why the project could not be effective with a smaller sample);
  • An itemized list of all estimated costs associated with the project for which reimbursement will be sought; and
  • The importer's role in the project regarding handling and processing the commodity sample;

(d) Information indicating all funding sources and amounts to be contributed by each entity that will supplement implementation of the proposed project. This may include the organization that submitted the proposal, private industry entities, host governments, foreign third parties, CCC, FAS, or other Federal agencies. Contributed resources may include cash or goods and services.

Review Process

Proposals will be evaluated by the applicable FAS commodity division. The divisions will review each proposal against the factors described below. The purpose of this review is to identify meritorious proposals, recommend an appropriate funding level for each proposal based upon these factors, and submit the proposals and funding recommendations to the Deputy Administrator, Commodity and Marketing Programs.

FAS will use the following criteria in evaluating proposals:

  • The ability of the organization to provide an experienced staff with the requisite technical and trade experience to execute the proposal;
  • The extent to which the proposal is targeted to a market in which the United States is generally competitive;
  • The potential for expanding commercial sales in the proposed market;
  • The nature of the specific market constraint or opportunity involved and how well it is addressed by the proposal;
  • The extent to which the importer's contribution in terms of handling and processing enhances the potential outcome of the project;
  • The amount of reimbursement requested and the organization's willingness to contribute resources, including cash and goods and services of the U.S. industry and foreign third parties; and
  • How well the proposed technical assistance component assures that performance trials will effectively demonstrate the intended end-use benefit.

Highest priority for funding under this announcement will be given to meritorious proposals which target countries which meet either of the following criteria:

  • Per capita income less than $9,265 (the ceiling on upper middle income economies as determined by the World Bank [World Development Indicators 2001]); and population greater than 1 million. Proposals may address suitable regional groupings, for example, the islands of the Caribbean Basin; or
  • U.S. market share of imports of the commodity identified in the proposal of 10 percent or less.

Agreements

Following approval of a proposal, CCC will enter into an agreement with the organization that submitted the proposal. Agreements will incorporate the details of each project as approved by FAS. Each agreement will identify terms and conditions pursuant to which CCC will reimburse certain costs of each project. Agreements will also outline the responsibilities of the participant, including, but not limited to, procurement (or arranging for procurement) of the commodity sample at a fair market price, arranging for transportation of the commodity sample within the time limit specified in the agreement (organizations should endeavor to ship commodities within 6 months of effective date of agreement), compliance with cargo preference requirements (shipment on United States flag vessels, as required), compliance with the Fly America Act requirements (shipment on United States air carriers, as required), timely and effective implementation of technical assistance, and submission of a written evaluation report within 90 days of expiration of the agreement. Evaluation reports should address all performance measures which were presented in the proposal.

Closing Date for Proposals

All Internet-based applications must be properly submitted by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, March 10, 2003. All paper copy proposals must be submitted in duplicate and received by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, March 10, 2003, at one of the following addresses:

Hand Delivery (including FedEx, UPS, etc.): U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Marketing Operations Staff, Room 4932-S, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-1042.

U.S. Postal Delivery: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Marketing Operations Staff, STOP 1042, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-1042.

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Signed at Washington, DC, on January 8, 2003.

Kenneth J. Roberts,

Acting Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service, and Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation.

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[FR Doc. 03-1118 Filed 1-16-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-10-P