Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael C. CamuÑez
Market Access and Compliance
Remarks to The 2010 International District Export Council Conference
"Capitalizing on America’s Export Advantages: Green and Innovation"
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
As prepared for delivery
Good morning, it is my pleasure to be here with you today on Trade and Innovation Day at the 2010 DEC conference. As the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance in the International Trade Administration, I am delighted to welcome you all to this important annual gathering.
I am only on my fourth week on the job, but I wanted to take the time to come and meet with you because I am convinced there is much we can do together to advance the goals of the National Export Initiative.
You’ve already heard much about the NEI from my colleagues, and how the Department of Commerce and the entire administration is working hard to ensure that we grow jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy by increasing our exports abroad. I’d like to use the limited time we have together this morning to make sure that all of you understand what role the Market Access & Compliance division of ITA, or “MAC” as we call it, plays in the overall effort to double exports in the next five years and, more importantly, how the DECs and MAC can work closely together going forward.
How MAC Supports U.S. Exporters
As the 2010 DEC conference underscores, the Obama Administration is committed to increasing U.S. exports dramatically over the next several years. We’ll do this by encouraging businesses to export to more markets, by growing U.S. market share in emerging markets, and by innovating and exporting in key sectors, where our industries are most competitive.
A key factor in doubling our exports is making sure global markets remain open to U.S. exports.
In fact, all the trade promotion in the world won’t significantly move the needle on U.S. export growth if we don’t simultaneously ensure that we are tackling specific market access issues overseas. As you know, non-tariff barriers can range from specific problems like delays in the movement of goods through customs or unfair regulatory and licensing requirements, to broader, systemic problems like corruption and a failure of foreign governments to adequately protect intellectual property rights.
Once we convince U.S. companies to export their goods and services abroad, it’s imperative that the U.S. government do all it can to keep markets open and to protect and defend our commercial interests from these unfair practices that thwart competition and hinder our ability to compete freely and fairly. For companies who are investing in new products and technologies – the entrepreneurs and innovators among us – we need to ensure that there are markets to which they can successfully export as well as an incentive for businesses to continue to invest in research and development.
And that, fundamentally, is MAC’s core mission: we are the division of Commerce that advocates directly for U.S. business interests abroad, leveraging our diplomatic and other ties to our foreign trading partners—and, importantly, working with private industry like the American Chambers of Commerce abroad—to fight for U.S. business interests and ensure our companies can compete on a level playing field.
I like to think of MAC as the “chief advocate for U.S. business interests overseas.” We do this in three distinct ways: First, working with industry, we are tasked with identifying the most significant market access barriers that impede U.S. companies from competing in existing markets overseas. Through commercial diplomacy with our foreign government counterparts and through a wide range of public-private engagement strategies, we work hard to eliminate trade barriers to grow U.S. market share and to ensure that global trade is conducted according to fair and transparent rules.
As part of this effort, we strategically target new and emerging markets, and key sectors within established markets, to help ensure that unfair trade barriers are eliminated or in many cases prevented from coming into existence, so that U.S. companies can gain access to those markets and compete fully and fairly.
Second, through our trade policy work and deep, country-specific expertise, we support the expansion of free trade through the negotiation of free trade and other agreements. MAC policy experts are deeply engaged with our colleagues at the U.S. Trade Rep’s Office on important trade negotiations to strengthen intellectual property rights such as through the recently concluded Anti-Counterfeiting in Trade Act, to advance state of the art trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership, and to advance U.S. interests at the WTO and the Doha Round.
And third, we play an important role in monitoring and supporting the enforcement of those trade agreements that are already in force, ensuring that our trading partners are living up to their obligations. Long before the USTR brings formal enforcement actions complaining of WTO or other free trade violations, MAC is working closely with U.S. industry to identify instances where our trading partners are not honoring their agreements, building specific compliance cases to gather evidence of the violation, and, ultimately, attempting to resolve those complaints through commercial diplomacy without resorting to formal, legal complaints. And when our informal efforts don’t work and we must resort to more formal enforcement actions brought by the USTR, MAC works to leverage our expertise and relationships both in-country and with industry to make the strongest cases possible.
In short, I believe MAC plays a vital role in advocating for and protecting U.S. business interests abroad, working to ensure that the very companies all of you support and encourage to export are supported once their goods and services reach foreign shores. But the truth is, we can’t do our work alone. And that’s why I wanted to be here today—to share with you some ideas for how we can work better together.
Leveraging DEC Expertise to Overcome Market Access Barriers
The starting point for our work in opening markets and knocking down unfair and often unlawful market barriers is market intelligence. That is, knowing about specific challenges and problems that U.S. exporters face abroad, whether they are veteran multinationals or SMEs who are new to market or new to exporting.
We simply must ensure that the ITA and Department of Commerce is receiving real-time, substantive accounts of the specific market barriers U.S. companies encounter as they export. These reports must feed into and ultimately drive the case work that MAC pursues as we negotiate with and engage our foreign counterparts. While we are well aware of many of the overarching and systemic market access problems, such as corruption, lack of transparency in regulatory proceedings, or inadequate IPR enforcement, we have no way of learning about of the more specific and salient barriers that U.S. companies encounter when they export unless those companies tell us about them.
And this is where the DECs can genuinely make a difference. Through your work with exporters around the country, you are in close touch with those companies that are or will soon be gaining access to markets worldwide. Their experience and feedback exporting overseas can help inform our understanding, real-time, of the specific challenges they (and others) face. This in turn can help us to prioritize and shape our work, targeting those market barriers that are most problematic and in markets that matter to U.S. companies.
One of my highest priorities is to make sure that MAC is doing all it can to be in close contact with the private sector, including leading exporters and their trade associations and representatives, to make sure we are hearing from them about the challenges they face. I would like for the DECs to be an important ally in our work. You are ambassadors for the entire ITA and can convey a message that MAC is here to serve U.S. business interests through its case work, commercial diplomacy, and trade enforcement efforts.
In all candor, I don’t think we have done as good a job as we might have in the past to make these resources known and, more importantly, to enable us to learn about specific market access barriers from industry.
To give you just an example of some of the resources MAC offers, we have a Trade Compliance Center and a Trade Compliance hotline – a single number that enables U.S. exporters to let us know about specific market barriers they encounter overseas. Our Trade Compliance Center web site also provides a check list of common trade problems, which helps new exporters identify what type of problem they may be encountering. They can also file a complaint online, and one of our staff will respond promptly.
We have a staff of nearly 225 professionals comprised of country experts – some in the U.S., others who are our boots on the ground overseas -- who are responsible for helping companies deal with problems in particular countries. We have experts who deal with specific trade barriers such as import licensing, customs or standards barriers, or intellectual property infringement, and we have a team of trade agreement experts on call as well.
We also have developed toolkits and other resources to assist new exporters and SMEs. We have a website, stopfakes.org, which contains a wealth of information for SMEs about how to protect their intellectual property rights overseas. We have an innovative IPR tutorial available in several languages, which helps SMES assess their intellectual property assets, protect them in the United States, and enforce them worldwide. We also have individual country toolkits, which provide useful information about the relevant IPR laws and policies in many countries worldwide.
In short, ladies and gentlemen, my main message today is that we need your help. We need you to let exporters in your districts know about the work of the Market Access and Compliance Unit. I need you to help us identify significant problems in the markets in which you operate – and in important sectors where we hope to grow our exports.
There are 60 District Export Councils throughout the U.S. I understand that there are MAC liaisons within each DEC. I need the help of the District Councils in spreading the word about the services which MAC provides. I hope that each council will make market access issues a regular part of their agenda, and find ways to communicate with our Trade Compliance Center to share important data about barriers your business community encounters. If there are specific regional events, which would afford MAC an opportunity to engage with significant portion of the business community, please alert us to those opportunities.
We will be designating a member of our senior staff as a DEC contact point and will get that information out to you.
Later today I will be meeting with the DEC Steering Committee to explore further how we can better partner together to advance our shared goals. I look forward to that discussion and to strengthening MAC’s relationship with the DECs.
In closing, I want to underscore how vital it is that we collaborate together to grow exports and increase U.S. market share abroad. As you work closely with current and prospective exporters around the country, the District Export Councils can provide essential, front-line market intelligence to the Department of Commerce that can help us better target and direct our work to knock down market barriers.
Given the economic challenges we face together as a nation, there’s never been a more important time for us to work together. I thank you sincerely for your attention this morning, and I look forward to working with all of you going forward. Thank you.
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.