Remarks of William G. Sutton
Assistant Secretary of Commerce
for Manufacturing and Services
Bureau of Industry and Security Keynote Luncheon Address
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Thank you, Lyn, for the kind introduction. The services that you and your colleagues provide in the United States Foreign and Commercial Service are an outstanding resource for American companies.
I encourage everyone in the audience to work with your local Commercial Service folks if you haven’t done so already. You can also visit Export.gov to find contact points for market research, trade leads, and other valuable information on navigating the international sales process. Furthermore, by visiting trade.gov you can find out more about our industry exports at the Office of Manufacturing and Services
During my time in the private sector, I ran a manufacturing trade association and our members always remarked about the effectiveness and value of the Commercial Service. Lyn and her colleagues helped many of our members export their products to new markets. And our sector experts are valuable resources when you encounter regulatory or policy roadblocks.
I would also like to thank the Bureau of Industry and Security for hosting today’s event.
My experience in both the military and industry has given me a profound respect for my colleagues at BIS.
Their role will help America tackle the challenges we face in the 21 st Century. Balancing our national security with our economic prosperity is very important as the age of global opportunities and global threats evolves.
Today, I want to spend a few minutes talking about my role as Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services and the benefits of the upcoming free trade agreements.
Manufacturing and Services
As I said earlier, I spent over 30 years as a Naval Officer, including stints as a naval engineering instructor…I served in the Navy’s government affairs office. I even had the privilege of serving as President Reagan’s Naval aide.
After retiring, I represented manufacturers as the President of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI). I advocated for a critical American industry on a number of issues including standards, certification, energy efficiency programs, technical education, and competing in the global marketplace.
These experiences have provided first-hand knowledge and a deep appreciation for the challenges we face as the global economy evolves.
Through my present position, my past experiences, and over eighty visits to manufacturing facilities, I have been privileged to meet a lot of the men and women who embody Main Street. And after all, business is all about Main Street.
I learned a lot from them. They helped me realize that we have one common thread woven into the fabric of our society.
And that is…America can compete successfully with anybody, given a level playing field.
This is where the Office of Manufacturing and Services can be a critical and important industry resource.
Recent advances in technology, productivity, logistics, and financing have completely merged manufacturing and services. This combination enables America’s industries to compete successfully across a wide range of businesses.
The Office of Manufacturing and Services is charged with making sure policies, regulations, and laws are passed with an eye toward the U.S. worker and U.S. industry’s competitiveness.
MAS has several excellent vehicles to maintain industry dialogue through its advisory committees, and councils and boards. These partnerships give industries an influential voice…a voice that is heard by the influential policy makers.
The office provides practical and actionable input to the regulatory and policy processes. With the evolution of globalization, I see U.S. global competitiveness needing to start right here at home.
Also, as employers you pay a premium to operate here in the U.S. Therefore, we will work toward decreasing that premium. Our goal is to help develop and maintain an environment in which the smart business decision for any U.S company will be to open or expand an operation right here.
Now I would like to talk about the pending free trade agreements.
In doing so…I am reminded of my experience in the Navy.
Freedom of the seas facilitates trade. Our Founding Fathers understood this concept when they stated we will maintain a Navy. They realized that free trade had the potential to raise the living standards of our nation’s very first citizens and that it would lay the foundation for our future prosperity.
At the same time, market access limitations, barriers, and unfair costs stifle fair competition. Fortunately, free trade agreements have proved to be one of the best ways to open up foreign markets to U.S. exporters.
These agreements provide a level playing field, and as I said before…we can compete with anybody given a fair environment. In today’s global marketplace, this advantage can help the U.S. lead the world in trade while expanding economic growth at home and abroad.
Today, the United States has FTAs with 14 countries. Last year, trade with these countries was significantly greater than their relative share of the global economy.
Although these countries make up about 7.5 percent of world GDP, they purchase more than 42 percent of our exports.
Peru, Panama, and Columbia
In Latin America, we have offered a very positive agenda…opening markets, promoting hope, opportunity and prosperity.
Our goal in the Americas is to promote democratically-elected governments that govern responsibly, expand economic opportunity for their people, and work cooperatively with their neighbors.
While some of the region’s leaders want to turn back the clock, the United States has very positive working relationships with many more. Peru, Panama, and Colombia are nations that want to continue building their democracies. These allies want to attract investment and trade…providing the stimulus for economic growth and for maintaining a healthy democracy.
In another part of the world, the U.S. - Korea FTA will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade, advance economic growth, and strengthen our economic ties with this important country.
This is a nation of 49 million people with a $1 trillion economy. It is already the 7th largest U.S. trading partner.
An FTA with Korea will diversify trade and investment in Asia while keeping our economy competitive in this vital region.
Thousands of U.S. manufacturers and service providers will benefit from the ambitious tariff cuts agreed to under the U.S.-Korea FTA. Elimination of tariffs on these goods and services will save U.S. companies hundreds of millions of dollars and benefit Korean consumers by allowing them better and cheaper access to American goods.
In conclusion, I encourage everyone here today to utilize the outstanding services offered by the Commercial Service, Bureau of Industry and Security as well as the Office of Manufacturing and Services.
I want to reiterate that we have a historic opportunity to demonstrate a bipartisan approach to business. America’s future economic prosperity will be greatly enhanced with the passage of the pending FTAs.
This is a chance to not only strengthen our economic and foreign policy; it’s also a chance to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties with Columbia, Peru, Panama, and Korea.
And most importantly, these agreements can lead to worthwhile and prosperous opportunities for each of you here today.
With the creation of our office of Manufacturing and Services around three years ago…the voice of the U.S manufacturing and services worker can now be heard in the policy process.
MAS is the go-to office for evaluating policy impacts on the domestic and global competitiveness of U.S. industry. We’ve got an able, highly competent staff of industry and sector experts who assist Congress and the federal agencies with the complex questions arising during the evolution of globalization.
Finally, I just want to reiterate that we are blessed with a healthy, market-driven economy. Its transparency and sense of fair play should be the future of globalization. Our way of doing business should be our number one export. I think that is one of the best ways for us to stay competitive in a global economy.
Thank you for your time, your attention, and good luck exporting in the global marketplace.