Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
The U.S.-U.A.E Business Council
Monday, November 29, 2010
As prepared for delivery
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It is wonderful to be here with you today at such a beautiful location with one of the best views of Washington. I would like to thank the U.S –U.A.E. Business Council for hosting us today to highlight our important trading relationship.
In particular, I would like to thank Danny Sebright for his tireless efforts to promote trade and investment between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Getting us together a couple of days before to celebrate the U.A.E’s National Day is a nice touch, Danny.
Today I’ll spend some time speaking about President Obama’s National Export Initiative and about the trade relationship we enjoy. Before I begin these discussions, though, I want to emphasize that trade is just one pillar of our relationship. Today, the U.A.E. is home to roughly 30,000 Americans and more than 700 American companies.
Each year, the U.A.E.’s beaches, dunes and shopping attract American tourists. Many of our Emirati friends received their college degrees at universities in the United States, and, increasingly, our scientists meet to discuss green technology innovations. Our relationship, fostered by strong people-to-people ties, is broad-based.
Your work and the work of this organization re-enforce current relationships and fosters new ones across all sectors that in turn, will help us achieve President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal – to double American exports by 2015. The NEI puts trade promotion at the top of the U.S. government’s agenda.
The Commerce Department through the International Trade Administration, which is my responsibility, already leads many of the federal government’s trade promotion efforts. We counsel American companies on overseas opportunities and help open markets through trade missions and other promotional events. We work to eliminate trade barriers and help make sure that foreign business environments are transparent and equitable.
The NEI is intended to concentrate additional attention within global trading rules to all of these areas, including how we might help you. Most of you in this room operate in the global marketplace. Still, if you are like me, as hard as you try, you cannot be everywhere at once. Most likely, your minds are full of details about regulatory regimes and new product offerings.
So if you feel like you need more information about a market but you do not have the time to do the research, contact one of our domestic U.S. Export Assistance Centers or overseas Commercial Service posts. These offices act as ITA’s frontline. They exist to find export opportunities for American businesses, and they may be able to share insights on a market or trade show that you or your organization just have not had the time to research.
Through our U.S. Commercial Service, we provide products and services that can be tailored to meet an American company’s export needs. These may be basic or in-depth market research, full due diligence reports on potential agents or distributors, or tailored promotional events. ITA’s programs also include trade missions. Some of you have participated on a trade mission, and if you have only heard about them, let me tell you that most are highly productive.
I spend a lot of time overseas leading these trade missions. Since January, I have travelled to Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iraq. Next week, I will lead an energy and infrastructure trade mission to Saudi Arabia.
We are currently promoting a February clean-tech and healthcare trade mission to Jordan and Israel. For March, we have organized a ports-and-infrastructure mission to Morocco and Egypt, and in June we will be in the U.A.E. and Qatar on a transportation and infrastructure mission.
Simultaneous with marketing these trade promotion efforts, we also spend much time resolving market access cases for American companies. These market access cases arise when regulatory, technical or other trade barriers hamper an American company’s ability to succeed in a market.
Our Market Access and Compliance section works with private industry, our embassies overseas and others to resolve these cases through bilateral discussions or in wider global settings such as the WTO. By working with countries to improve their trade policies, our MAC office helps create a level playing field that then feeds into a better environment for local businesses as well as for our Commercial Officers to do trade promotion.
So where do our NEI efforts stand? Our September exports of goods to the world, $106.9 billion, were the highest monthly total since August 2008. Our global goods’ exports hit $937 billion from January to September 2010, up 22 percent over the same period last year.
We continue to align our trade promotion resources and listen to American businesses about problems they face in global markets to better serve the American exporting community and achieve the NEI’s goals. The U.A.E. will continue to play an important role in our NEI efforts, both in terms of the local market and its position as an international business hub.
From 2000 until 2009, our total trade in goods with the U.A.E. increased by more than 300 percent, with exports of U.S. goods increasing by more than 400 percent. Despite the global economic and trade slowdown, including a downtick in U.S. – U.A.E. trade, we continue to run a high trade surplus with the country.
Looking at the U.A.E.’s domestic economy, we know its purchasing power. The local and expatriate populations in the U.A.E. are by and large affluent and have a strong affinity for American products and services. With an annual per capita GDP of more than $40,000, the U.A.E.’s relatively small population delivers quite a consumption punch.
While oil and related industries still play a vital role in the U.A.E., the country’s leadership realizes that its future and that of its people lie in a diversified economy. The government’s diversification efforts are evident in the country’s strategic move into civil nuclear power. This program will help create high-paying jobs for local Emiratis and numerous export opportunities for American companies.
The U.A.E.’s diversification can also be seen in its efforts to develop information and rail technologies and to build the world’s first carbon-neutral city, Masdar.
All of the U.A.E.’s diversification and education-improvement activities will expand its economy, create better employment opportunities and generate export opportunities for American businesses.
The United States offers the world’s best university educations, IT, rail, green and civil nuclear technologies and services. The U.S. government and business community are committed to working with the U.A.E. in its drive toward further diversification and increased economic growth. We have been friends for a long time, and we will continue to be the U.A.E.’s strongest and most committed business partner.
Since the November 2009 credit crunch that hit Dubai, there has been much talk about the future of the U.A.E’s economy. Exhibiting its can-do attitude, the U.A.E. turned the challenge into an opportunity, concentrating time, money and human energy into becoming the best in the class of global business hubs.
We at ITA will do all we can to help American exporters enter and expand in the market. In addition to our promotion efforts, we will continue to monitor the U.A.E.’s efforts to develop a more sophisticated arbitration system and the country’s commercial agency law to ensure that American companies are treated equitably.
We will continue to work with Danny and the Business Council on missions and events, including its upcoming trade mission to Arab Health, and to address any and all concerns that American companies have. We want to reach out to American businesses and to both new-to-market and new-to-export companies to encourage them to look at the trade opportunities that the U.A.E. offers.
Thank you again Danny and all of you for being here today. I look forward to working with all of you.
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