Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
U.S. Commercial Service
Access 2013 International Trade Forum
Thursday, May 2, 2013
San Diego, California
As prepared for delivery
Thank you very much, Mark (Ballam), for that kind introduction and all your great contributions to the District Export Council. I’d also like to thank all the organizers and all the sponsors for their great efforts.
A special thanks to the entire Commerce Department team for organizing this conference. I know it took a lot of long conference calls and late nights to make this happen. And it was all worth it because this is a great event.
And finally, I’d like to thank all of you in the audience for participating in this 2013 Access International Trade Forum. From what I understand, it’s been an eventful conference thus far.
You’ve talked in depth about a variety of issues and industries as they relate to trade.
And in my view, these kinds of conversations are more important than ever. That’s because we are coming together at a moment when all the ways of doing business are changing.
For a second, I’d like all of you imagine that this conference is taking place in another era — let’s say 20 years ago in 1993, long before iPads and smartphones. And let’s say you were getting ready for the summer and wanted a new pair of sunglasses.
What would you do? You’d go to the yellow pages … or ask around for local stores. Then you’d travel around comparing styles and prices. And ultimately, you’d make your decision and buy the pair you want.
Fast forward to today, and while you’re eating at this luncheon, any of us can use our gadgets to Google “sunglasses” — and in an instant have a range of buying options from:
- to India;
- to Japan.
So the rules of the game have changed. The competition for American businesses is no longer across the street or across town — it’s across the world. And in order to compete and succeed in this new global environment, American businesses must go global as well.
That’s why I’ve spent my tenure as Under Secretary for International Trade encouraging U.S. firms to look further than just the customers in their neighborhood; look further than just the possibilities in their region; and look further than just the short term, and recognize that as time goes on — it will become increasingly important to do business on a global scale.
Some may fear these changes, but they shouldn’t. That’s because 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders. And according to numbers released by the IMF in April — 85 percent of the world’s growth through 2018 will also occur outside the United States.
So the world is full of opportunities. And we’ve got to link more American businesses with these opportunities. President Obama has long recognized this new reality and, in 2010, launched the National Export Initiative, with the goals of increasing U.S. exports and supporting an additional two million jobs.
Across the administration, we’ve been working tirelessly with American businesses of all shapes and sizes to meet these goals and we’ve had record-breaking success.
Both in 2011 and 2012, U.S. businesses exported at unprecedented levels. Last year alone, U.S. exports reached an all-time high of $2.2 trillion in total value, supporting nearly 10 million jobs, an increase of 1.3 million since 2009.
This puts us ahead of pace of the President’s National Export Initiative goal of supporting an additional two million jobs, and offers further proof that reaching more global buyers helps businesses:
- strengthen their bottom lines;
- hire workers; and
- succeed in the current economic environment.
So there is no question that increasing U.S. exports should be a part of any business plan. The only question is where should you do business? Well, there are a lot of options. And while a lot of the talk focuses on Asia and our neighbors in the Americas, we can’t afford to ignore the Africa, Near East and South Asia regions.
That’s because there is a lot of promise there for U.S. businesses, and throughout the conference, you’ve heard why. You’ve heard about Kenya’s plans to develop affordable and reliable electricity so that it can meet its goal of 10 percent growth by 2030.
You’ve heard about Iraq’s need for more safety and security equipment during this transitional period in its history. You’ve heard about South Africa’s desire to rebuild and expand its energy and water infrastructure in order to meet the needs of its people.
In short, you’ve heard stories from across the ANESA region of people and governments that are building for the future. U.S. businesses are recognizing this and increasingly playing a part in this growth.
In fact, in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, more than half of the export successes to the region that the Commerce Department was involved with were new-to-market sales. So clearly, more and more U.S. businesses are looking beyond the news stories you hear about some countries in the area.
And what they’re seeing beyond the headlines is that there are great opportunities and they want to seize them. And all of us at the Department of Commerce are determined to help your companies do just that whether you are considering exporting to the region for the first time or whether you are already doing business there, and want to expand into new markets.
We are ready to help in a variety of ways. One way is to simply offer the most timely, accurate and useful market intelligence possible. The organization I lead, the International Trade Administration, has staff in more than 100 U.S. cities and 70 countries.
And as you’ve seen over the course of the conference, these are talented and passionate professionals who know their stuff. That's why I want you to view these one-on-one meetings you are having with them as more than just a single discussion.
Instead, I want you to view them as the starting point of a long and fruitful relationship. If you need to identify potential partners, they’ve got the relationships to help you out.
If you need information about legal and regulatory issues, they know how to point you in the right direction. In short, they know the markets and the opportunities. And they’re ready to help you every step of the way.
Just take a look at the work we did with a company called PharmaJet. It’s a small to medium-sized firm from Colorado that provides needle-free injection devices for vaccinations. The company was seeking to penetrate the Middle East market and reached out to our Kuwait office for assistance … and we got to work.
We helped introduce PharmaJet to a large company in Kuwait to distribute its products. Then we worked with the parties to create a public health awareness campaign that showcased the benefits of PharmaJet’s vaccine delivery technology.
As a result, the company is now in active discussions in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf markets on multi-year contracts for this needle free injection system. The anticipated values of these contracts are in excess of $100 million, which is obviously great for business. And the deal will also help meet the medical needs of the region. So it’s a win-win situation.
And we’re proud to be doing this kind of work at all levels. In fact, since 2009, ITA has successfully assisted approximately 17,000 U.S. companies, resulting in nearly 54,000 export successes.
Many of you have been part of this success. For those of you who haven’t been, we want you to be. So reach out to us today, tomorrow and whenever you need us in the future.
I also urge you to take part in our trade missions. On a regular basis, the Department of Commerce brings U.S. companies on trips to a variety of markets to participate in:
- one-on-one business appointments;
- market briefings; and
- selective sessions on local business practices, site visits, or seminars.
And I’m proud to say we’ve been active in the ANESA region. Just last month, Commerce’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade, Ken Hyatt, led a business development mission to Egypt.
I have led missions to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. And just a few months ago, I was proud to lead a trade mission of 13 U.S. companies to sub-Saharan Africa, where we helped celebrate the launch of the Commerce Department’s “Doing Business in Africa” campaign.
It’s an important effort 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. And again, we want your businesses to be a part of this.
Our campaign is a whole-of-government approach that is
- promoting more U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa;
- increasing trade financing; and
- engaging with important stakeholders – like the United States’ African Diaspora community – to ensure they have all the tools needed to do business in the sub-Saharan Africa market.
I’m proud that the trade missions I led there, and to other parts of the region, have helped take steps towards these kinds of goals on a global scale. And I encourage all of you to be a part of future efforts.
I also encourage you to reach out to us if you are encountering any trade barriers once you are in the region. We know that American businesses produce world-class products and services, and can compete anywhere in the world as long as the playing field is level.
At the International Trade Administration, we strive to create that level playing-field. Our Trade Agreements Compliance Program ensures that our partners live up to their ends of the deal under our trade agreements when it comes to things like:
- intellectual property rights protection; and
- discriminatory rules.
In addition, when you are competing for public projects abroad, our Advocacy Center will coordinate across the Obama Administration to help you make the case for why your bid offers the best value to foreign governments.
We’ve done this in markets ranging from Kenya to Algeria, and it’s adding up to some great progress. Last year alone, advocacy wins like these totaled roughly $36 billion in anticipated U.S. export content, and we want this year to produce even more wins.
That’s because we recognize how valuable exporting is, and can be, to your businesses. We recognize that your companies produce cutting-edge products and services, and want you to reach as many global buyers as possible. And we recognize that by strengthening your businesses, we strengthen the economy and strengthen our nation as a whole.
So that’s why I continue to encourage all of you to look further by entering or expanding the business you are doing in the ANESA region. By deepening our economic ties, your companies can bolster your balance sheets so you can invest in new equipment or hire new workers.
And in turn, you’ll help spread opportunity and prosperity across Africa, the Near East and South Asia regions, touching the lives of a number of people.
Clearly, these are all goals that are worth striving for. And I look forward to working with all of you to make them a reality.
Once again — my thanks to all the organizers, sponsors and participants in this Access 2013 International Trade Forum.
I know it’s been productive thus far. And I hope you enjoy the rest of your time here.
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