- Table of Contents
- Full Issue in PDF
- Exports Play Vital Role in Supporting U.S. Employment
- Taking the Mystery and Fear Out of Trade
- Travel and Tourism Industry Gets Its Say
- Short Takes
- Trade Calendar
- Featured Trade Event: Trade Mission to Colombia and Panama
Taking the Mystery and Fear out of Trade
Francisco J. Sánchez, under secretary for international trade. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez talks about how vital exports are to the economic well-being of the United States and how the International Trade Administration and its employees can make export growth a reality.
Francisco J. Sánchez, under secretary for international trade, spoke recently with International Trade Update’s John Ward about his goals for the International Trade Administration (ITA) and how achieving those goals can bring a much-needed boost to the U.S. economy.
Ward: Both external and internal audiences want to know what plans you have for ITA. What can you tell us?
Sánchez: The first thing I want to say is how much I look forward to working with everyone to make ITA an increasingly effective voice and tool for the expansion of exports. Increasing the exports of goods and services helps create and support jobs. In this intensely competitive world—and with ITA’s limited resources—we have to make every budget dollar count. In addition to what we already do, we have to find new ways to accomplish our goals and objectives, knowing that the country is undergoing an economic transition that is very difficult for some sectors and, therefore, very rough on families, many of [whose members] need jobs.
Ward: What are some of those ways you seek to accomplish your goals?
Sánchez: It is clear to me that the excellent work we do face to face with so many companies in terms of exports must continue, but ITA needs to implement strategies that convince more businesses of all sizes to consider exporting. The fact of the matter is that the individual decision by a business owner to explore how to export is the most important point in the entire timeline of how a company goes from being a non-exporting to an exporting enterprise. We need to undertake a campaign that will engage business owners at that critical point, not only to make exporters out of non-exporters, but also to expand the horizons of the 58 percent of U.S. exporters that export to only one market. If we succeed, we will see across-the-board job growth and the creation of new businesses. This is the recipe for the systemic expansion of the U.S. economy. We might be able to move the country away from the boom-and-bust periods of the past several decades.
Ward: That sounds like an ambitious agenda.
Sánchez: It is, but we have to do it. Our first goal is to take away the mystery and fear about trade. We have to demystify trade. Instead of it being a drag on the economy, trade is a positive force, which is why ITA must take on the role of being an agencywide advocate … for exports.
Ward: ITA has sometimes been seen as being a lot of things to a lot of people and as not necessarily having a specific strategy.
Sánchez: Well, we have one now. President Obama and the top members of his administration have made it clear that exports are a key to how we grow the economy in the future. We now have a specific presidential directive in the form of the National Export Initiative (NEI). Our job is to double exports over the next five years to help support the creation of 2 million new jobs. Secretary of Commerce Locke and I are lockstep in our thinking on this.
Ward: What does that mean for ITA employees, both here at headquarters in Washington, D.C., and in the more than 200 domestic and international field offices?
Sánchez: We will make some organizational changes that are critical to our mission. For starters, there will be improved coordination among all ITA offices throughout the country and around the world. Also, employees will be asked to contribute their ideas about how ITA can tell the exporting story and open up the minds of businesses and the general public to this new path that the country must take to vouchsafe our economic well-being and standing in the world. And we will seek—because President Obama wants it and because the public demands it—ways to make our work more efficient and more productive.
Ward: Are there any specific changes that you can announce now?
Sánchez: We are going to keep assessing the purposes and resources of each office and to redirect efforts and people to the overall objective of making the NEI a success. I can tell you that the change most offices will see will be a matter of degree relative to the work they will be asked to pursue.
Ward: How have you found ITA so far?
Sánchez: The people here are dedicated and hard working, and I am going to enjoy working with them. I want to ask them for their cooperation and understanding as we start off on this new mission [of supporting the NEI]. We are all here to serve the public. If we understand that principle, then collaboration will be the hallmark of how we manage so important an agency for which the people pay through their hard-earned taxes. There are so many bright people here at ITA whose intelligence and creativity must be organized and marshaled anew. That is what can fuel ITA’s drive into the future. And by working in new ways with our corporate partners, small and medium-sized businesses, labor unions, graduate schools of business, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations, we can truly begin to convert the global marketplace into America’s marketplace.
Ward: Well, that sounds exciting, and good luck.
Sánchez: Thank you, John.
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