Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
National Association of Manufacturers Council of Manufacturing Associations Winter Meeting
Thursday, January 12, 2012
National Harbor, MD
As prepared for delivery
Good afternoon, and thank you for that generous welcome.
It’s great to be here today with all of you.
The National Association of Manufacturers, and its Council of Manufacturing Associations, represent both excellence and endurance.
NAM has been around a long time. There’ve been a lot of ups and downs in the economy throughout the years. Yet, through it all, the manufacturing sector has helped build a vibrant middle class. It’s produced some of the world’s most innovative products. And, the businesses you represent have always been among the best at building.
And I’m not just talking about building stuff. You also build businesses. You build opportunities. You build partnerships. And, you help build a stronger and more prosperous nation.
We at the Commerce Department deeply value the work you do — and that we do with you. And, I appreciate the invitation to take part in this winter meeting.
I must admit, however, that I was worried when I heard that Jay was introducing me. He is a proud Ohio native and graduate of Ohio State University.
I, on the other hand, am from Florida. And, ten days ago, Florida beat Ohio State in college football at the Gator Bowl. Naturally, I feel like gloating. I feel like talking about Florida’s victory and dominance.
But, as your guest, I’ll refrain from doing so. In all seriousness, thank you Jay for those kind words and for your tremendous work. And, let me thank all the leadership, staff and supporters of NAM CMA for your important contributions.
It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with you to give U.S. manufacturers their fair chance at success. This is important work that I’ve long valued because of my personal experience.
I am the product of a manufacturing background. My father ran a candy factory. He had to make payroll. He had to monitor the inventory. He had to help market and sell products.
So, from an early age, I knew the huge impact that manufactures have on jobs and communities. That’s why I’m so happy to be here today to talk about strengthening the manufacturing sector.
This is a top priority for President Obama, and all of us at the Commerce Department. We’ve worked hard to strengthen our relationship with the manufacturing community.
This includes stealing one of your former Board Members — Peter Perez — to serve on my leadership team as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing.
But, we are even. That’s because NAM’s Senior Director for International Policy — Steve Jacobs — used to be a part of my leadership team at ITA.
But seriously — I was proud to serve with Steve. He made lasting contributions at the Commerce Department. And, I’m glad we can continue to work together in this new way.
We are also proud to work with NAM Board Chair — Mary Vermeer Andringa — who serves on the President’s Export Council. She is also a new addition to the U.S. - Brazil CEO Forum.
And, I know that many of you serve on one of our Industry Trade Advisory Committees.
I could go on and on because the partnerships we share are wide and deep. And, we in the Administration want it this way.
We want you to have a voice at the table. You help us be more effective. And together, we have achieved great things.
In fact, we come together during a very promising time. Last week, I opened my New York Times and there was an article that began with the words:
“For the first time in many years, manufacturing stands out as an area of strength in the American economy.”
Similar upbeat articles have appeared in other outlets. I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was seeing things clearly. It seems like years since we saw a positive narrative about manufacturing.
But, the reality is that good things are happening.
334,000 manufacturing jobs have been created over the last two years.
In the third quarter of 2011, manufacturing profits were up more than 7 percent compared to the first quarter. And, in the larger picture, last week, it was announced that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent.
The economy has added private sector jobs for 22 straight months, for a total of 3.2 million jobs over that period.
Obviously, the President — and all of us with the Administration — are pleased with these positive trends.
We’re happy that the road to economic recovery continues to widen. We want more and more Americans to move forward with new jobs and new hope.
But, we’re not satisfied. We know there’s more work to do.
That’s why we want to build on this progress.
I am excited by initiatives like NAM’s Manufacturing Renaissance strategy. And, we want to support this work.
We recognize how important the manufacturing sector is to our economy.
As all of you know, in 2009, manufacturing made up more than 11 percent of GDP. It employed nearly 12 million workers. And, these are good jobs.
In the manufacturing sector, total hourly compensation is, on average, 22 percent higher than the services sector.
I know I don’t have to tell you about the ripple effect your work has. You see the impact every day. And, we want to help you keep the momentum going.
We want to be your partner. We want to champion your causes. We want to do all we can to create an environment where businesses can succeed here at home.
As part of this effort, just yesterday, I was proud to join business leaders and Administration Officials at the White House.
It was for a forum called “Insourcing American Jobs.” President Obama is putting forward new incentives to encourage U.S. companies to invest in America, and bring back jobs — to our shores.
In the coming weeks, the President will put forward new tax proposals to reward companies that choose to invest or bring back jobs to the United States. He will also work to eliminate tax advantages for companies moving jobs overseas.
It’s part of a firm commitment to get the American people back to work, a commitment that we at the Commerce Department take very seriously — and strive to achieve every day.
We do our work under the leadership of the new Commerce Secretary — John Bryson — who was confirmed back in October.
Secretary Bryson brings to this role tremendous private sector experience. Previously, he was CEO of Edison International — a California energy company.
He has served on the boards of companies like Walt Disney and Boeing. And, he’s hit the ground running.
As Secretary, he’s talking to CEO’s frequently. In fact, one of his first meetings was with Jay.
He’s listening and engaging. He is firmly committed to getting people back to work. And, he knows that manufacturing is central to achieving this goal.
In fact, in December, Secretary Bryson spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He said that:
“Without a strong manufacturing base, we can’t create enough good jobs to sustain a strong middle class. And without a strong middle class, we cannot be a strong country.”
That’s why he’s committed to supporting the manufacturing sector. In fact, President Obama has named him co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy.
It will coordinate federal manufacturing policies and initiatives to ensure that all the different efforts are coordinated, effective and efficient.
Additionally, he’s created a National Program Office to support the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, bringing together industry, universities and all of the federal government to steer investment dollars into the most promising industries.
It’s a great effort. But, helping businesses develop their products is only half the story.
What good is a product if it sits on a shelf? Businesses need to sell them.
At Commerce, we are committed to supporting businesses so that they can move their goods. Key to this effort is helping manufacturers reach new markets and new customers.
And, in this 21st century global economy, it’s critical to link businesses to the opportunities abroad.
It’s no longer enough for businesses to target markets across town or across the state. They’ve got to access markets across borders and overseas. That’s where the customers are.
As Jay noted, more than 9 out of 10 of the world’s consumers are overseas. I’ll give you one other stat: more than 85 percent of world economic growth over the next five years will take place outside of the United States.
U.S. businesses must seize these opportunities. I know you recognize this.
NAM has been such a strong partner and supporter of our work at ITA, especially as it relates to the National Export Initiative, or NEI as it’s commonly known.
The President announced the NEI during the 2010 State of the Union address. The goal is to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
Because exports help businesses. And, businesses employee people.
In 2010 alone, exports supported 9 million jobs. And, 60 percent of those exports came from manufacturing.
So the correlation between exports, manufacturing and good-paying jobs is clear. And, we want to give the businesses you represent even greater opportunities in the overseas markets.
Key to this work is our New Market Exporter Initiative — which I want to focus on today.
Launched in 2010, the effort is done in partnership with NAM, Fed Ex among others.
Our goals are simple:
- To get those American businesses not yet exporting to start — today.
- And, to get those already exporting to expand into more markets.
Just 1 percent of U.S. businesses are exporting. Of those that do, 58 percent export to just one market. So, there is great potential to do more. And, the New Market Exporter Initiative aims to fulfill this potential.
Here’s how it works. It begins with our Commercial Service staff, which is spread out over roughly 75 countries. They are talented. They are dedicated. They know what’s happening on the ground. They see the opportunities. And, they stand ready to help U.S. businesses.
Associations that get involved with this program give their members access to personalized service from our CS staff.
- Expert advice on new export markets;
- Access to free on-line market research reports;
- Opportunities for export training;
- Matchmaking services to locate distributors and representatives, and more.
The results have been tremendous. We’ve had incredible feedback thus far.
Currently, 130 NAM participants are involved. In fact one member — Thermcraft — opened three markets in just three months.
And, associations have reported to us that participation in this program has:
- increased member recruitment;
- increased revenues; and
- increased their retention rate.
So, I urge all of you to get involved, and achieve some of the benefits that many of your peers have already experienced.
With us today is Matt Kennedy, ITA’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, and Janice Corbett, a member of our Commercial Service team who has been detailed to NAM to help advance this initiative.
Reach out to them. Reach out to me. Reach out through export.gov.
We are eager to help your member companies for one simple reason — when their bottom lines are strong:
- workers benefit;
- communities benefit; and
- America benefits
That’s why we at the Commerce Department are relentless in fighting to create new opportunities.
2011 was a great year for this work.
We had three trade agreements — with Korea, Colombia and Panama — signed by President Obama.
They will increase the GDP by several billion dollars and support tens of thousands of jobs.
The U.S. successfully completed its year as host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum — strengthening our economic ties with a critically important region of the world.
We saw six record-breaking months of exports.
And, there was so much more.
But, we’re not focused on the past.
We’re focused on the future.
We’re focused on helping American entrepreneurs — the risk takers — who have:
- the imagination to come up with an idea;
- the belief in themselves to pursue that idea; and
- the work ethic to turn that idea into a reality.
There is a lot of innovation occurring in the manufacturing sector.
It’s helping to lead our economic recovery.
And, I look forward to continuing to work with you to build a stronger … healthier … and more prosperous America.
Once again, my thanks to NAM CMA for inviting me to share a few thoughts.
It’s an honor to be here.
And, I look forward to our discussion today.
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