Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
National Association of Counties Annual Conference
Monday, July 18, 2011
As prepared for delivery
Thank you for the kind introduction. It’s great to be here with you in Portland for NACo’s 76th annual conference.
I love my job, but it’s a little warm in Washington, D.C., right now … in more ways than one, if you’ve been paying any attention to the news.
On behalf of the Commerce Department, let me begin with a thank you. NACo was an important partner for Commerce during the decennial census.
In addition to determining the number of U.S. House seats each state gets, the 2010 population count determines how more than $400 billion is allocated every single year, for the next nine years, to local communities – for everything from education to senior and emergency services to roads.
So we appreciate your help in getting it right.
The Obama administration is committed to working with groups like yours – our partners – in government, academia, industry and non-profits, to get the economy back firing on all cylinders, with businesses growing and creating good, middle-class jobs.
When President Obama first took office, he made some tough decisions that pulled our economy back from the brink. More than 2 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 15 months. But too many people are still hurting. And as the President has said, we have more work to do.
That’s why this administration is making unprecedented efforts to help U.S. companies enter into foreign markets.
As Under Secretary for International Trade, that’s what I’d like to talk to you about today: how we can work together to accelerate the growth of exports and the American jobs they support.
In his State of the Union last year, President Obama announced his National Export Initiative, or NEI, which mobilizes departments throughout the federal government to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014 supporting several million jobs.
The logic behind the NEI is simple: The more goods and services U.S. businesses export, the more they need to produce. And the more they produce, the more workers they need. And that means jobs.
We’re already off to a good start. Exports have been a key driver of America's economic recovery. In 2010, U.S. exports of goods and services totaled $1.84 trillion, an increase of nearly 17 percent over 2009 levels.
And exports have been growing at a strong pace overall in the first five months of this year, up more than 16 percent over the same period last year.
Earlier this month, the International Trade Administration, or ITA, which I lead, reported that U.S. exports supported an estimated 9.2 million jobs in 2010, up from 8.7 million in 2009.
And these are good-paying jobs – up to15 percent more than the typical wage in America. ...
…Exactly the type of jobs we need a lot more of.
In the first quarter of 2011, exports accounted for greater than 13 percent of all U.S. economic output, which is the biggest portion of our economy since the Commerce Department began tracking quarterly figures in 1947.
But there’s still plenty of room to grow.
Consider that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders.
With your first-hand knowledge of what’s going on in more than 3,000 counties throughout our nation, you can play a major role in helping more of the businesses in your communities connect to fast-growing markets hungry for the “Made in USA” brand.
I know that export promotion is already a part of the economic development strategy in many counties. For example:
- Fairfax County, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., sponsored an “Exporting 101” workshop in partnership with state and federal agencies.
- Martin County, Florida, maintains an Export Resources website to connect county businesses with the full range of export assistance available through the state and federal government. And,
- Belknap County Economic Development Council in New Hampshire links to the state Trade Resource Center and to the Commerce Department, as well as other export resources.
And we congratulate those counties that are working in partnership with state and federal agencies to include export promotion in their economic development plans.
We’d like to have all of you on board. Because increasing U.S. competitiveness and job growth through exports is an all-hands-on-deck project for this Administration.
Although the United States overall is a strong exporter, only one percent of our companies export; and of those that do, 58 percent sell only to one market. We can and need to do better.
We know that there is an expanding global middle class that’s expected to add over a billion new consumers over the next 15 years.
China alone has moved more people out of poverty in the last couple of decade than any civilization in history.
As people there, and in India and Brazil and countries across the world, realize prosperity that most Americans take for granted, they’re going to want the conveniences that come with middle class life.
We know that American companies and workers produce world-class goods and services that can help meet new global demands. But we also know that our competitors aren’t simply sitting on the sidelines.
Now, this needn’t be a zero-sum game.
But make no mistake: They want to beat us.
Our competitors want the jobs that will come with connecting their businesses with the consumers who are going to drive the worldwide economy for decades to come.
We can’t settle for second place. American companies can compete and win on a level playing field. And this Administration is committed to ensuring our firms have access to the resources they need to succeed.
We’re especially trying to reach out to the owners of smaller companies.
Small and medium enterprises represent more than 99 percent of all employer firms. They’re home to more than half of all private sector employees. And they have generated 65 percent of net new private sector jobs over the past 17 years.
Through the NEI, our goal is to increase the number of small businesses entering the world market – and to increase the value of exports for small businesses that are already exporting.
The more markets a company is selling in, the more diversified the customer base is. That’s why U.S. companies that exported a lot generally held up better than companies that didn't during the recession.
Now, there are plenty of reasons why many U.S. companies don’t export.
They may have trouble getting the money they need to produce more of their goods.
Or they may be worried about getting timely payment from unfamiliar foreign customers.
They may have difficulty understanding and navigating foreign customs and regulations.
Or they may not have the networks to get the meetings they need with potential distributors, customers or foreign government decision-makers.
The NEI is designed to help more companies overcome these hurdles, reduce barriers, and provide easy access to export resources that can boost participation in global trade.
That’s why Secretary Locke and leaders from USDA, the Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Administration and myself and my team, among other agencies, have spent the last six months crisscrossing the country hosting events that target small businesses and bring together representatives from all the agencies that can help them export.
It’s why too that Commerce has partnered with UPS, FedEx, the Postal Service and the National Association of Manufacturers to link our services with their small- and medium-sized business customers.
The truth is that there is a wealth of programs, both at the federal and state level, to help businesses export.
At the Commerce Department, we have over 100 ITA Commercial Service offices in cities throughout the U.S., as well as offices in nearly 80 countries, to help companies find and penetrate new markets, and to protect their interests abroad.
Let me give you a local example. Our trade specialists right here in Portland helped ADI Mobile Health, which makes mobile medical and dental clinics, secure a winning bid and make a $400,000 sale to Malaysia.
We work closely with Agriculture, ExIm Bank, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative, and other NEI export agency principals to ensure that U.S. companies have the opportunities, the counseling, the financing and the championing they need to succeed in international markets.
To make the information easily available, there’s export.gov – a one-stop website with practical information that can help companies that aren’t exporting to start and ones that already are to find new markets.
Let me close with this: It is critical we understand that the world has changed. Competition from countries like India and China is more intense. To win the future, we need to up our game … to leverage our resources … and help America’s companies, workers and farmers sell more abroad and create new jobs here at home.
It’s an imperative.
This past decade saw the slowest average annual job growth since World War II, and that is still true even if you stop measuring before the beginning of the recession in 2008.
It’s easy to understand why. Over the last decade the U.S. has experienced increased competition from other industrialized nations. It is time, really past time, for us to flex our muscles and improve the economic competitiveness of the United States.
Everyone in this room can help make this change.
Everyone in this room can help businesses in their communities think globally.
Everyone in this room can play a role helping U.S. companies sell more to the world.
If we do that, businesses will hire more workers.
Communities will grow stronger.
Families will prosper.
And, needless to say, the economy will stabilize.
It is our mission at Commerce and the International Trade Administration to partner with you and other important organizations to make all of all of this a reality.
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.