Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
Boeing-Copa Airlines Signing Ceremony
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As prepared for delivery
Good morning. Thank you all for coming this morning to this important event, which signals more than the signing of a business contract between two companies. I am Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, and it is my honor to welcome you to the Department of Commerce.
We are proud to host this ceremony today. I am delighted that (congressional) Representatives Dave Reichert and Jim McDermot are here with us. Thank you for coming. I want to recognize Vice President Juan Carlos Valera of Panama, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Jim Albaugh, who is president and chief executive officer of Boeing, and Pedro Heilbron (AYL-brohn), who is chief executive officer of Copa Airlines, for helping make this day possible.
Also with us is Panama’s ambassador to the United States, Jaime Aleman; Phyllis Powers, our ambassador to Panama; Randy Babbitt, Administrator of the Federal Avitaion Administration; and Suresh Kumar, director general of the U.S and Foreign Commercial Service.
We are gathered here this morning to witness the signing of a contract between Copa Airlines of Panama and the Boeing Company of the United States. It is a milestone in the continued development of a better transportation infrastructure that can support the ongoing integration of the economies of our hemisphere.
The immediate implication of this contract is that it will create jobs here and in Panama, and in today’s economy, that is all-important. But in the long run, it signals closer ties between our two countries and the businesses of both nations.
The agreement between Boeing and Copa calls for the purchase of 22 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with the option for 10 more aircraft. This is no small contract. It is worth $1.7 billion and is a significant commercial transaction whose impact on the economies of both countries and the region will last for years to come.
What we are witnessing today is the kind of step forward envisioned by President Obama when he announced the National Export Initiative to double exports in five years. The export of a product as large as an airliner illustrates the gains in jobs that can be made through trade.
I am delighted to introduce Vice President Varela, with whom I spent time just a few days ago in Atlanta at the Americas Competitiveness Forum, which gave us an opportunity to discuss how we can make more of these kinds of transactions possible. Mr. Vice President, it is an honor to have you here.
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