Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
“TechBelt Export Summit”
Monday, June 18, 2012
As prepared for delivery
Thank you, Eric (Planey), for that very kind introduction and your tremendous work.
Allow me to also thank Senator (Sherrod) Brown for his leadership.
He’s a man who puts people and progress before politics.
He has done great work to give businesses the tools to compete and succeed.
He has been a champion for middle- and working-class families.
And I appreciate all the contributions he has made to Ohio, and our nation.
And my thanks to the (Youngstown/Warren) Regional Chamber for its valuable work to support local businesses, and for its efforts to organize this event.
They’ve done an incredible job of bringing us together to exchange ideas and perspectives.
However, I must confess that I do have one complaint about the way this event was organized.
My complaint is that I have to speak after Fred Hochberg.
He’s a tough act to follow.
As you’ve seen, Fred has a dynamic personality.
And he is doing dynamic work.
His leadership at Ex-Im Bank has been exemplary.
It’s been a pleasure to work with him over the years.
And, it’s an honor to share the stage with him today.
As was mentioned earlier, I have the privilege of serving as President Obama’s Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
And from day one, the President has had a top priority — putting people back to work.
When the President took the oath of office, the United States was losing 800,000 jobs a month.
I repeat: 800,000.
That’s the equivalent of filling Stambaugh Stadium over at the (Youngstown State) University nearly 40 times.
It was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Yet even in the toughest times, our nation had some great things going for it.
And that’s the ingenuity, the work ethic and the resilience of the American people.
I know this because I’ve seen it firsthand, as I’ve traveled across the country.
The great American entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.
The productivity and skill of the American worker remains strong.
And whenever you put together bold ideas with the ability to make them a reality, you have something special.
That’s why products stamped with the words — “Made in America” — are in demand all over the world.
They are special.
They represent quality, excellence and value.
This provides American entrepreneurs with incredible opportunities in the global marketplace.
And in the end, that’s what exporting is all about: opportunity.
Exporting provides an opportunity to reach more customers.
More than 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders.
Exporting also provides an opportunity to reach more consumer dollars.
Roughly 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power is outside the U.S.
So exporting provides opportunities in a variety of ways.
By going into new markets, businesses have a chance to reach more customers and attract more dollars.
And whenever a business makes a sale, it starts a ripple effect.
Strong businesses lead to strong communities.
Which lead to strong cities.
And eventually a stronger nation.
A sale abroad also means that revenue is coming back to a business here at home.
This is money that can be used to invest in a business expansion or hire workers.
So exporting is good for both individual businesses and our nation as a whole.
That’s why President Obama launched the National Export Initiative — with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
He has long recognized that exports fuel economic growth and support jobs.
Thus far, the NEI has been a tremendous success.
Last year alone, U.S. exports reached $2.1 trillion in total value.
This is an all-time record.
And these exports supported nearly 10 million jobs, an increase of 1.2 million since 2009.
This is progress, and we’ve got to keep the momentum going.
As you just heard, the Ex-Im Bank is doing this in a lot of ways, particularly with financing.
I want to talk a bit about what we are doing at the Department of Commerce.
We have a basic motto, and that’s to help American businesses build their products here, and sell them everywhere.
We are doing this by supporting U.S. manufacturing and helping these manufacturers sell their products in markets throughout the world.
Let me start with manufacturing.
Quite simply, throughout history, manufacturing has been vital to our nation’s economic development.
And we’ve got to ensure it’s a vital part of our economic future.
Because manufacturing matters.
Manufacturing matters because it creates more economic activity than any other sector.
Manufacturing matters because it is responsible for 70% of the private-sector research and development, and 90% of the patents in this country.
Manufacturing matters because it supports good, stable jobs that pay — on average — 17% higher than non-manufacturing jobs.
Clearly, manufacturing is a key to an American economy built to last.
And it’s encouraging that, under the President’s leadership, the sector is the strongest it’s been since the 1990’s.
In fact, in the past two years, nearly half-a-million manufacturing jobs have been created.
To keep the progress going, the Obama Administration is taking steps to strengthen U.S. manufacturing by launching a number of key initiatives.
- a Commerce program that works directly with local businesses to help them become more innovative and competitive;
- and the President’s proposal to drop the corporate tax rate to 28 percent — with an effective rate of 25 percent for manufacturers.
This sector is essential to our future economic success.
And we want to see it thrive, and build as many innovative products as possible.
And once these products are built, we’ve got to sell them in markets across the globe.
At the Department of Commerce, we have tremendous resources to support businesses, specifically our talented staff located in more than 100 U.S. cities and more than 70 countries.
They know the markets.
They know how to navigate through the export process.
And they stand ready to help U.S. businesses succeed.
They’ve done great work in recent years, helping companies export for the first time, and helping those already exporting expand into new markets.
And I’m proud to say we are taking our work to the next level.
This is an effort I call “localizing the National Export Initiative.”
We recognize that only so much can be done from Washington, DC.
There are things happening out there that we can’t see from the nation’s capitol.
America is made up of different communities, each with its own character and opportunities.
Regional leaders have a unique view of these issues.
They bring to the table incredible insight into their respective regions.
And we want to utilize this insight.
This is an important effort because cities across America are fueling the national growth of U.S. exports.
In fact, the Brookings Institution recently named the Youngstown region as the top metropolitan area in export growth.
We want to help areas like yours build on this progress.
And we’ve been proud to work with Brookings to make this happen.
We have partnered together on an effort called the Metropolitan Export Initiative.
Thus far, we have collaborated with our local partners to develop export plans for:
- Los Angeles;
- and Minneapolis
Each plan is tailored to the strengths and opportunities within each region.
The response has been overwhelming.
So we are expanding the effort into many more cities moving forward.
It’s going to produce big benefits.
Localizing the NEI isn’t just a slogan.
It’s a strategy to boost U.S. exports in the long-term.
Working with Brookings and other regional partners, I’m confident that it’s a strategy that will pay off.
And when American companies do export, the Commerce Department will be working to give them a fair shot to succeed.
As we all know, American companies will always be able to compete overseas as long as the playing-field is level.
However, the sad truth is that it isn’t always level.
To address these problems, the Administration has been committed to taking action in a variety of ways.
One exciting effort is President Obama’s Interagency Trade Enforcement Center.
This is an aggressive, “whole-government” approach to getting tough on trade enforcement.
The Commerce Department plays an important role in it.
We support the Center’s work to build formal dispute settlement cases, and continue our statutory enforcement of domestic trade laws.
We’ll also continue our own ongoing trade enforcement efforts to tackle trade barriers and ensure that trade agreements work for American exporters.
We’ll do all that we can to give American businesses a fair chance when doing business overseas.
We are also doing great work to attract Foreign Direct Investment into the United States to strengthen business communities and ultimately put more companies in a position to export.
Here in the U.S., FDI plays a crucial role in our economy.
U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms maintain a stock foreign direct investment position in the United States of about 2.3 trillion dollars.
These companies employ more than 5 million U.S. workers, which translates to more than $400 billion in wages.
With these benefits in mind, we want more investment to flow to our shores.
So the President has launched the SelectUSA initiative.
Housed in the Commerce Department, SelectUSA is the first coordinated U.S. government-wide effort to promote and support business investment in the United States.
Working with headquarters in Washington, this effort is carried out on the ground by the Commerce staff members located around the world.
They spread the word about the desirable market conditions in the American economy, including:
- a hardworking and educated workforce;
- relatively low taxes;
- and, of course, access to an incredible consumer base.
Then they assist potential investors in a number of ways, including helping those who encounter confusion, delays or obstacles when navigating through the federal regulatory process.
The Administration wants more foreign investment going into cities like Youngstown.
We want to put your companies in a better position to prosper.
We know the private sector is leading the economic recovery.
And we want to help you succeed.
As part of this work, the President has presented a “to-do” list to Congress.
It’s a list of common sense proposals that will accelerate our nation’s economic recovery.
- rewarding small businesses that create jobs with a 10 percent tax credit;
- and eliminating the tax incentives to ship jobs overseas so we can start “insourcing”, and bring jobs back home.
Even though, under the President’s leadership, we’ve had 27 straight months of private sector growth, resulting in millions of new jobs, there is still a long way to go.
That’s why I urge Congress to work with the President and take action.
Politics should never come before progress and prosperity for American entrepreneurs and workers.
Let me close here because I want to leave some time for Q and A.
I want to end by saying that I think I have the best job in the world.
Every day, I get to advocate on behalf of:
- American entrepreneurs;
- American workers;
- and American-designed services.
I’m proud of the goals achieved during my time at the Department of Commerce, resulting in:
- more exports;
- more jobs;
- and more opportunities for U.S. businesses.
However, I’m fully aware that there is potential to do so much more.
That’s why I want to work with you and your businesses to:
- sharpen our nation’s competitive edge;
- generate growth for U.S. businesses;
- and support jobs for the American people.
Together, we can do great things.
Together, we can expand the doors opportunity.
And together, we can shape a better future for this community and our country.
So let’s get to work.
Once again, my thanks to the Regional Chamber for inviting me to be here today.
I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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