Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General Suresh Kumar
U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service
ACCESS 2011 Conference
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
As prepared for delivery
Thank you very much for your introduction, Teresa. It is a pleasure to be here in Houston for the ACCESS 2011 Conference. The U.S. Commercial Service and our Houston partners have had a long relationship that has helped connect small and medium-sized businesses to global opportunities. I want to thank the Houston District Export Council, Fed Ex and R.H. Shipping for their continued partnership and support.
As President Obama said in the State of the Union address in January, “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” To win the future, we must work together to create opportunities that encourage innovation and spur growth. We must produce innovative products and technologies, we must educate and train our workers and students so that we may scale new technologies and we must connect our exporters with buyers worldwide. When the U.S. exports, jobs are created here and abroad.
America is at its best when it is inventive. We invented the motor car, the airplane, the computer and even the internet and GPS which we commercialized through public-private partnerships. “Winning the Future” will require continued private sector innovation. The Administration is committed to lay the foundation for future success through policy mechanisms that reduce risk, provide greater predictability and influence common standards.
When we have innovated we have prevailed. That is why this Administration places so much emphasis on innovation, on building and owning the markets of tomorrow even as we vigorously compete for share in today’s markets. American products improve lives and livelihoods globally; because of our inventiveness, consumers around the world value a cache of “Made in the USA” more than one made elsewhere.
Private sector employers driven by small and medium-sized companies have added jobs for fourteen straight months. For the first time in 24 months (April 2009) unemployment is below 9% at 8.8%, but even this is unacceptably high. Facilitating and growing exports that create more employment has never been more important than now. The more we sell overseas, the more jobs we create in the United States. Every $1 billion of goods and services we export supports more than 5,000 U.S. jobs.
Innovation is the foundation for sustainable competitiveness in the 21st century. It is how U.S. companies and our products and services can reach the 95% of consumers who live outside our borders.
Winning the future requires increasing investment in research and development. The Obama Administration has made a substantial commitment to innovation by setting the goal of investing a full three percent of our GDP into research and development. Nowhere is this more important than with small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up 97% of all firms in the United States.
A larger focus for U.S. businesses must be to reinvent what we make, consume, market and sell. Government must reinvent its support, focusing on self-sufficiency, sustainability, innovation and fiscal responsibility. An example of such reinvention came last year when the Administration brought together businesses, entrepreneurs, CEOs, regulators and representatives of foreign governments along with NIST to influence the development of common standards for SMART grid and ancillary products and services.
Hand-in-hand with innovation through R&D, and investment in infrastructure from high speed rail systems to high speed internet, the Administration has a targeted focus on creating and funding sustainable solutions for the future that lead the global marketplace.
Our global leadership is dependent on how we educate our students today. New jobs in advancing fields will require higher education, and investments and programs like Intel’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education program will ensure that the next generation is prepared with the skills they need to succeed and that America is well-positioned to win the future.
The President has laid out a plan to prepare 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math –skills that will prepare students for the jobs of the 21st century. Under his plan, teacher preparation models that prove effective will be further expanded to help train more teachers and top STEM graduates will be prepared for teaching careers of their own.
America’s long-term goal to out-educate the competition and spark a new wave of American innovation will continue to create jobs for the next generation and guarantee that America can win the future.
Announced by President Obama in January 2010, the National Export Initiative aims to double U.S. exports by 2015. It is at the forefront of the Obama Administration’s short and long term economic strategy for winning the future, and serves as a catalyst to enhance our competitiveness, create sustainable jobs and build a stronger America.
Through the National Export Initiative, we help companies expand their global footprint to reach more customers worldwide. This not only helps create greater sustainable employment but also helps us become more competitive.
You are here today seeking new opportunities to expand your business overseas. Often the roadblocks to enter a new market are numerous, but U.S. businesses have the full support of the U.S. government in connecting you to global partners and markets. Last year, the U.S. Commercial Service assisted 18,000 companies export, of which 16,000 were small -and medium-sized firms employing fewer than 500 persons. As a result, nearly 5,600 companies exported for the first time or increased their exports overseas, 85 percent of which were small and medium-sized businesses. The Commercial Service helped U.S. businesses post over 12,000 export successes in 2010. Last year exports grew 17% vs. 2009 which is better than the 15% compounded annual growth rate required to double exports within 5 years. Exports comprised 12.5% of U.S. GDP in 2010, up from the 11.2% recorded in 2009. Exports contributed nearly half of the 2.9 percentage point growth in real GDP in 2010. The $1.83 trillion total in exports of U.S. goods and services represents the second-highest annual total on record.
Texas recorded exports of $206.6 billion, a growth of 27% over 2009. Most impressively, the Lone Star State continues to rank as the number one exporting state.
Here in Texas, we have seven U.S. Export Assistance Centers throughout the state to ensure we reach SME exporters in both in rural and metropolitan areas. We work with state government, area universities, and local economic development agencies to leverage our programs for the maximum benefit of SMEs in Texas.
Texas is an example of hardworking Americans who have the skills and dedication to produce the best products in the world: One such company is
Headworks, Inc., of Houston, TX, which manufactures wastewater screening systems used to filter out solid wastes from the water as it flows through treatment plants and power facilities. With the help of the U.S. Commercial Service in Houston and overseas offices, Headworks has made export sales to about a dozen countries, including sales to India and Saudi Arabia in 2009. Headwords utilized the CS Gold Key business matchmaking service in India to connect with prescreened prospective Indian partners which led to new sales for Headworks. Headworks was also introduced to a buyer from Saudi Arabia as a direct result of the CS International Buyer Program (IBP).
Michele LaNoue, CEO, says the firm's overall export sales have enabled her company to weather changes in the economy, and to grow and support new jobs at its Houston headquarters.
There are several such examples of problem solving that the U.S. Commercial Service’s trade specialists here in the U.S. and throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia work on every day to assist local businesses. They identify new markets, develop market entry plans guide and assist you to secure working capital even as they assist others to navigate foreign customs and regulations.
ACCESS 2011 is an opportunity for U.S. business to hear directly from our U.S. Commercial Service officers about potential opportunities in Africa, the Near East and South Asia. Through our Gold Key matchmaking services, one-on-one export counseling, and our extensive network around the globe, the U.S. Commercial Service can assist your companies to convert export challenges into profitable opportunities. We are here to make exporting easier for you.
The Administration’s focus on innovation, education and commercialization reflects market-driven, competitive approaches that make sure that the United States is the best place to do business and to innovate.
Leveraging this strategy requires creating deep market linkages and connecting innovation to the marketplace. This is the core of the NEI — connecting American innovation and our innovative products and services with consumers worldwide. The U.S. Commercial Service leverages partnerships through its Strategic Partnership Program with corporations, like UPS, FedEx, USPS, and trade associations to increase awareness of exporting opportunities amongst small- and medium-sized businesses. Our trade specialists counsel SMEs and encourage them to connect with the 95% of consumers living beyond the United States who constitute a profitable global opportunity.
The Administration recognizes that increasing global trade provides opportunities for growing America’s SMEs. Exporting must play a larger role in the U.S.’s economic prosperity. The pre-crisis drivers of U.S. economic growth - domestic consumer and business spending - can no longer be the only levers of an emerging and even more globally connected marketplace. The Administration also works with our trading partners to provide access to new markets: those who seek access to U.S. markets must also remove barriers to trade and open their markets to U.S. products.
To win the future, U.S. businesses must expand their global reach to new markets. Less than 1 percent of America’s 30 million companies export, and of those companies that do export, 58 percent export to only one country. Clearly we can, and must, do more to ensure that U.S. businesses capture the full potential of economic opportunities that exist internationally.
I have recently returned from leading trade missions to Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Each country is growing its infrastructure, technology and energy sectors and the message from the companies and governments to work with U.S. business cannot be clearer. They want U.S. business to export to their countries because we make the best products and services in the world. And U.S. exports must increase for our economy to maintain sustainable growth.
Exports as a percentage of our GDP is just 12.5%; whereas exports account for 40 percent of Germany’s GDP, 30 percent of Canada’s GDP and a quarter of China’s GDP comes from exports. Doubling U.S. exports is not only possible but necessary if we are to stay globally competitive and secure our economic future. Because when U.S. companies export more, we produce more. When we produce more, we need more workers.
And export related jobs on average pay 15 percent more than the typical wage in America.
Innovation and exporting are inextricably linked; they ARE the drivers for sustainable economic growth and help create well paying jobs.
I look forward to our continued collaboration with our partners and to working with the SMEs like the ones here today to create a vibrant, robust, and resilient American economy; an economy which produces well paying jobs at home, increases our competitiveness globally and helps America lead the way in creating global prosperity.
When you succeed, the entire American economy succeeds.
Thank you for having me here today.
The International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, manages this global trade site to provide access to ITA information on promoting trade and investment, strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein. This site contains PDF documents. A PDF reader is available from Adobe Systems Incorporated.