Lavin Departure Marks Two Years of Accomplishments
In his farewell remarks on July 13, 2007, Franklin L. Lavin, the departing under secretary of commerce for international trade, recounted a record of accomplishments at the International Trade Administration during the past two years.
by Charles Skuba
On July 13, 2007, after nearly two years of service as under secretary of commerce for international trade, Franklin L. Lavin left government service to return to the private sector. Under his leadership, the International Trade Administration (ITA) posted a strong record of accomplishments in an environment of record export growth. U.S. exports are now at an all-time high, with export growth projected to reach 23 percent by the end of 2007.
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| Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez (left) with Under Secretary for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin (center) and his wife, Ann Lavin (right). Gutierrez presented Lavin with the William C. Redfield award on the occasion of Lavin’s farewell reception on July 13, 2007. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
Facing the “No. 1 Challenge”
In his farewell remarks to ITA staff members on July 13, Lavin noted, “Our No. 1 challenge at ITA is maintaining America’s leadership in the world economy during this period of dramatic change. I’m proud of your accomplishments in meeting that challenge and your superb work in support of the president’s trade agenda and Secretary Gutierrez. I’m proud to have served with the excellent professionals of the International Trade Administration.”
Lavin called particular attention to the achievements of the four bureaus within ITA: U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, Market Access and Compliance, Import Administration, and Manufacturing and Services. He recognized their hard work to open markets and to lower barriers to trade while keeping the pressure on important trading partners to ensure fair trade.
He described how ITA has been helping to keep the U.S. economy at the top in a world that is experiencing ever-faster change and is becoming more competitive. He also discussed how ITA professionals have helped thousands of American businesses to become export ready and to find new markets for their products.
Lavin cited efforts in commercial diplomacy—such as the start of commercial dialogues with Brazil and India and the support of negotiations with China through the ongoing Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade—as highlights of the ITA’s work during the past two years. Lavin also noted how ITA professionals have worked hard in support of the World Trade Organization’s Doha round of trade negotiations and how they successfully resolved longstanding difficult trade disputes with Canada and Mexico.
Other ITA activities sought to support and increase the competitiveness of U.S. industries in the global marketplace. ITA efforts included the development of a series of industry studies, such as the report focused on the U.S. sugar industry that was released in 2006, and support for the important work of the President’s Export Council and the International Trade Advisory Committee. Lavin also noted the March 2007 launch of the Invest in America initiative, which is designed to attract investment to the United States. (See the March 2007 issue of International Trade Update.)
Lavin commended the many efforts made by ITA to promote U.S. exports abroad. Those efforts included a business development mission to India in November 2006 (the largest mission of its kind in the history of the U.S. government); the expansion of private-sector partnerships; the proposal for the Transformational Commercial Diplomacy initiative, under which U.S. government trade promotion resources would be shifted to support emerging markets; successful advocacy efforts in support of U.S. companies; and the organization of a clean-energy mission to China and India in April 2007.
One significant effort to promote U.S. exports was the Liu Xue USA campaign, which was undertaken in partnership with the Department of State. Launched in November 2006, the campaign produced and aired a television show in China that promoted educational opportunities in the United States. (See the December 2006 issue of International Trade Update.) The campaign will begin in India in late 2007.
Ensuring a Level Playing Field
Another area of success in the past two years was the Import Administration’s aggressive enforcement of U.S. trade laws to ensure a level playing field for U.S. industry. An important milestone in this effort was the March 30, 2007, preliminary determination to countervail Chinese government subsidies to its glossy paper industry. (See the April 2007 issue of International Trade Update.)
In his remarks, Lavin also praised the ITA’s financial and administrative operations for continuing to excel in the implementation of the President’s Management Agenda. This included work in many critical areas, including information technology security, financial management, e-gov initiatives, human capital, and the development of the agency’s five-year strategic plan.
Recognition of Leadership
In recognition of Lavin’s achievements, Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez presented Lavin with the William C. Redfield award. In Gutierrez’s remarks, he noted Lavin’s “superb leadership in advancing American trade policy and exports.” The Redfield award, named in honor of the first secretary of commerce, is the highest honor that the secretary of commerce can award.
Charles Skuba is the director of public affairs in the International Trade Administration.