Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
Georgetown University/American Marketing Association
Trade Policy and International Marketing Conference
Friday, March 15, 2013
As prepared for delivery
Thank you very much, Professor Czinkota, for that kind introduction. And my thanks to Georgetown University and the American Marketing Association for organizing this important conference.
The International Trade Administration has been proud to support your efforts. And it’s truly a pleasure to be a part of your dialogue.
It is fitting that we are meeting in a building named after former President Ronald Reagan. That’s because, if you do a quick search of public remarks made by U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan was the first to use the term “globalization” in a speech.
He served at a time when computers and fax machines were making it easier and quicker to do global business transactions. And in 1988, in an address to the Atlantic Council, he talked about this increasingly connected global economy, one where what’s happening in Canada or Italy “is as momentous as what’s happening in California.”
And in this changing economic environment, he said that: “the future belongs to the flexible.” It’s a great line. And it is especially true now in the 21st century global economy. Technology has changed all the rules.
The competition for a business in the U.S. is no longer just across town: it’s across the world. And it is essential that our nation’s trade policies are sound and attuned to these new realities.
That’s what I keep in mind every day in my role as President Obama’s Under Secretary for International Trade. In this capacity, I lead the International Trade Administration. We dedicate ourselves to helping American businesses compete in the global marketplace.
And in doing so, we have the great honor of supporting President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which has the goals of doubling U.S. exports and supporting an additional 2 million American jobs by the end of 2014.
This week actually marks the third anniversary of the NEI. And as I look back at its launch, I vividly remember how our nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Businesses and workers were looking for a fair opportunity to get back on their feet and succeed. And today, more than ever before, many of these opportunities are in the global markets. That’s because 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders. And for our nation to be competitive, we’ve got to ensure that American products and services reach these consumers.
That’s what the National Export Initiative is all about. And in the years since its launch, my staff, which is located in more than 100 U.S. cities and 70 countries, has been out there spreading this message to businesses.
I’m proud to report that under the NEI, working with partners in government, we have helped U.S. businesses reach historic milestones. For two years in a row, U.S. exports have reached all-time highs.
Last year alone, the total value of U.S. exports reached $2.2 trillion. The U.S. saw record levels of merchandise exports to more than 70 countries. And 29 states experienced record exports — with eleven of those experiencing double-digit growth.
So as you can see, a lot of great progress is occurring. Exports are making a difference on the ground, now supporting nearly 10 million jobs — an increase of 1.3 million since 2009. This puts us ahead of pace in meeting the President’s goal of supporting an additional 2 million jobs through the NEI.
So the National Export Initiative is making a difference for people and businesses. It’s also changing attitudes towards trade. According to Gallup, the year the President took office, 47 percent of Americans viewed trade as a “threat to the economy”, while just 44 percent viewed it as “an opportunity for growth.
In Gallup’s most recent poll — released last month — 57 percent of Americans now view trade as an opportunity for growth, and just 35 percent view it as a threat. That’s a dramatic change.
In fact, this is more enthusiasm than was recorded during the booming economy of the late 90’s.
So our message is getting through. And we are going to keep spreading our message to U.S. businesses because we are committed to keeping the momentum of the NEI going.
And as part of that message — we want to help more businesses become aware of the opportunities created by the trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea. In fact, today marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement taking effect.
As all of you know, because of the agreement, almost 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Korea are no longer subject to import duties. This immediate tariff reduction alone gives U.S. exporters an advantage over similar products exported by competitors in countries that do not have a trade agreement with Korea.
And in the past year, we’ve seen progress in a wide-variety of areas. U.S. services exports to Korea are up. And some goods, like orange juice, have seen triple digit increases. So the future is full of promise and possibilities because of the trade agreements with Korea, as well as Panama and Colombia. They are sure to bring benefits for years to come. And ITA is going to help ensure that businesses know about these potential benefits.
This builds on our broader work of linking American businesses with the promising growth taking place in global markets. According to the IMF, 85% of the world’s economic growth through 2017 will be outside our borders. We want U.S. firms to be a part of this growth.
And as I look back at recent efforts, one of the most exciting developments is our engagement with Africa. As many of you know, last year, President Obama issued a new strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa. This effort is being done because, in the words of President Obama: “we believe that Africa can be the world’s next major economic success story.” And I couldn’t agree more.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the fastest-growing markets in the world. Economic growth in this region is predicted to be strong — between 5 and 6 percent — in coming years.
So the President’s strategy is timely and important. Among its goals is to spur economic growth, trade and investment.
And to help achieve this goal, last November, I joined Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank, in Johannesburg. That is when we launched the Doing Business in Africa campaign. This campaign will help American businesses navigate through an often complicated process, and increase their presence in Africa.
It is a whole-of-government approach to increase the level of U.S. trade to the region and expand financing of U.S.-Africa trade. And it has a real chance to take this economic relationship to new heights.
I’m proud to say that this kind of close collaboration is occurring with partners across the world through various initiatives. Through the U.S.–Brazil Commercial Dialogue, we have encouraged Brazil to implement an electronic customs clearance process to make trade more efficient, and strengthened collaboration on intellectual property rights and standards to foster innovation.
Through the U.S.-Indonesia Commercial Dialogue, we have increased engagement between the public and private sectors and addressed issues ranging from energy efficiency to regulatory practices.
Through the U.S.-Turkey Business Council — we helped organize a World Bank “Ease of Doing Business Symposium” to improve the business climate in Turkey. I could go on and on, but the point is clear. We will turn every stone and tap every market in order to help businesses succeed.
We will try every approach to strengthen our partnerships with international friends and advance mutual interests. And we’ll keep doing this work to bring the world closer together through commerce.
Looking ahead, there are two exciting initiatives developing that will support this work. One is the Trans Pacific Partnership, which just concluded its 16th round of negotiations. The President has stated his intentions to complete negotiations of this 21st century agreement, which will create opportunities to link North and South America with dynamic markets across the Asia-Pacific region.
Another promising effort is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The President announced his commitment to negotiations during his recent State of the Union. And this effort is full of promise because the U.S. and the EU represent the largest economic relationship in the world.
Last year, our joint gross domestic product accounted for 38 percent of global GDP — and includes more than 800 million consumers. So a comprehensive trade agreement will be good for businesses and workers on both sides of the ocean. And I look forward to continued progress on both initiatives.
In addition to the progress at the policy level, I also look forward to continuing to make progress on the ground, at the community level. As we all know, throughout American history, so much progress has started come from the ground up. And I fully know that the nation’s export goals won’t be achieved by Washington alone.
They will also be achieved by businesses and communities on the ground, working together to make their own areas competitive in the global economy. That’s why we are working to localize the National Export Initiative.
We’ve partnered with the Brookings Institution on an effort called the Metropolitan Export Initiative. We’ve been working with municipalities across the country to help them develop and implement export plans into their economic development strategies.
We started with four cities, ranging from Los Angeles to Syracuse. We’ve expanded to eight more. And I want to see this expansion continue all across the country.
So I ask all of you to spread the work about this effort to create local, customized export plans.
It will go a long way in strengthening local businesses. And stronger businesses lead to stronger cities. Stronger cities helps shape a stronger nation. And a stronger nation means we will have stronger relationships with all of our global partners. And that makes for a healthier world economy.
In the end, these are goals we all share. And that’s why I am so pleased to be here with you today.
Progress is fueled by partnerships and dialogue. So we’ve got to keep talking with each other, and working with each other. I really appreciate the chance to do this with you today. And I look forward to working with so many of you to fulfill the full promise of our shared futures.
Once again, I’d like to thank Georgetown and the American Marketing Association for their work to organize this conference.
And I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
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