Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
2nd Annual "Sourcing in the Americas" Pavilion and Summit
Monday, August 20, 2012
Las Vegas, Nevada
As prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Julie (Hughes), for that kind introduction, and for your great work on behalf of brands and retailers.
It’s truly a pleasure to be here today.
But I must admit that I feel like I’m in a tough spot.
That’s because I’m following Mayor Villaraigosa.
If ever there was a person born to speak at a fashion show — it’s the Mayor.
He is one smooth guy.
More importantly, he’s a great public servant.
He’s shown tremendous leadership on a wide-variety of issues — both in Los Angeles and throughout the nation.
He’s done great work in my area of focus, helping U.S. businesses compete in the global marketplace.
The “Made in LA” initiative is proof of the results he’s generating.
And I’m so proud to call him a friend and partner.
Finally, I would like to recognize my fellow panelists from the private sector who are committed to manufacturing products in the USA.
Each of them helps keep the United States at the cutting-edge of fashion.
In fact, I stand here wearing:
- a shirt made in North Carolina;
- jeans made in Los Angeles;
- and sneakers made in Maine.
Every day, products like these are being manufactured in rural towns and urban areas across the nation.
They are innovative because they are being conceived of by great American designers.
They are high-quality because they are being produced by the great American workforce.
As a result, consumers, both here and abroad, want products with the “Made in the USA” label in their local shops.
And that’s good for businesses in America.
It’s good for growth in America.
And it’s good for jobs in America.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — nearly 400,000 people are employed in the textiles and apparel industry directly, and millions more are employed by supporting sectors.
In so many ways, the future of this industry will help determine the future of our economy.
So it’s great to be here today to talk about ways to strengthen it, and expand opportunities.
As many of you know, last August, the U.S. Department of Commerce was proud to help hold the first-ever event focused on sourcing from the Americas.
There was incredible energy in the air.
American brands and retailers met with producers and suppliers from both the U.S., and our neighbors in the Hemisphere.
And it was a big success, leading to some incredible outcomes.
So we’re back this year.
And I’m proud to say, we are bigger than before.
The exhibitor space is roughly 25 percent bigger than last year.
The Pavilion features more than 80 companies, including roughly 40 U.S. textile and apparel firms.
And the Commerce Department is committed to building on last year’s success by focusing on products stamped with those four proud words — “Made in the USA.”
Why are we doing this?
Because in my time, I’ve see a lot of trends come and go — from bellbottoms to leisure suits —but one thing that has never gone out of fashion is the quality of products “Made in the USA.”
For as long as I can remember, these words have been more than a slogan.
Instead, they represent value, excellence and innovation.
That’s why we want to help manufacturers source from, and produce in America as much as possible.
This commitment starts from the top.
The President has made supporting American manufacturing a top priority.
He has called on Congress to stop rewarding companies for outsourcing jobs overseas and start rewarding companies for bringing jobs back through insourcing.
He’s called for a network of institutes focused on manufacturing innovation, bringing together our top:
- and other partners
Together, they can help ensure that we continue to out-build and out-compete the rest of the world in the years ahead.
And under his leadership, the manufacturing sector is the strongest it’s been since the 1990’s.
More than 530,000 manufacturing jobs have been created over the last 30 months.
To keep the momentum going, the President has been focused on helping products manufactured here reach markets all over the world.
In 2010, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
His reasoning was simple: exports help drive growth.
And every time a sale is made abroad, it brings revenue home to invest or hire workers.
So his export initiative was launched to make a difference for our economic future.
And tremendous gains have been made thus far.
Last year, U.S. exports reached an all-time record of $2.1 trillion in total value, supporting nearly 10 million jobs.
The work you do has been central to this success.
Last year, the textile and apparel industry exported more than $22 billion in goods — up 35 percent from the year the President took office.
Again, this means more opportunities and more jobs for the American people, which is why we’re focused on helping private sector partners in your industry keep growing.
We are doing this in a number of ways.
One is by expanding opportunities in the global marketplace.
Since American products are the best in the world, they’ll compete anywhere and everywhere, as long as the playing-field is level.
And the Commerce Department works every day to level that playing-field.
Our bilateral and regional trade agreements expand opportunities, including three new agreements finalized last year with Korea, Colombia and Panama.
President Obama deserves a lot of credit for getting the best deal for the American people.
The agreements with Korea and Colombia have already taken effect.
The agreement with Panama will take effect later this year.
In total, these agreements will eliminate a majority of tariffs, and give U.S. companies unprecedented access to these important markets.
For your industry, the agreements with Colombia and Panama successfully round off the free trade agreements negotiated in the Western Hemisphere region, and add to the proven success of existing trade agreements with several Central American countries:
- the Dominican Republic;
- and Canada.
Last year, 66 percent of textile and apparel exports were shipped to our partners in the Western Hemisphere — our top market for the industry.
So we are poised for greater regional integration, and expanding supply chains, which benefit all parties.
To help U.S. manufacturers make the most of these opportunities, we have staff located in more than 70 countries around the world.
They know all the markets.
They know the exporting process.
And they are eager to help link American products with overseas buyers.
So check out export.gov to get in contact with our staff.
We know that a common challenge for international buyers is locating U.S. manufacturers.
Our staff can help with that.
We are also utilizing technology to take our efforts to the next level.
Today, I’m proud to announce that our Office of Textiles and Apparel is working on a searchable registry of producers that make their goods in America.
We took this action because a lot of our private sector partners have told us they wish it could be easier to identify U.S. manufacturers.
They told us that a registry would save them time and money.
They told us that a registry would lead to new partnerships.
And we listened by creating this groundbreaking effort.
Here’s how it will work.
Businesses will register themselves in our database.
And all those looking for a specific U.S. textile, footwear or apparel manufacturer will now have a place to go.
You will be able to identify suppliers with the “Made in the USA” label and those manufacturing inputs.
This will be a perfect place to match supply with demand.
As you just heard, the Mayor came here to announce a similar idea, focused on LA manufacturers.
So we are going to explore opportunities to work together and maximize the effectiveness of our registries when they are launched.
In the meantime, we have a number of other opportunities to establish and build partnerships, most notably today.
All of us have a unique opportunity to do big things at this event.
As President Obama has said, U.S. companies are uniquely positioned to compete in the world.
- the most respected brands;
- the most vibrant manufacturers;
- the most productive workers; and
- the most open and dynamic market in the world.
That’s why products stamped with those four words — “Made in the USA” — represent quality and value.
So let’s do everything we can to maximize manufacturing of these products.
Let’s do everything we can to ensure that American companies source from other American firms when creating these products.
Let’s do everything we can to sell these products all over the world.
Today’s conversation is an important part of this work.
And I look forward to our dialogue today.
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