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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

Working with Florida’s Construction Leaders to Build New Opportunities for Communities

Sánchez speaking at LBA event in Miami

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

Entrepreneurs are a major key to U.S. economic growth. Their ideas, creativity and pioneering spirit are among our nation’s greatest resources, and are helping to pave the road to recovery. 

That’s why the Commerce Department, under the leadership of Secretary John Bryson, is firmly committed to supporting American business owners in every way we can.  And, our partnership with the private sector is essential to this work which is why I traveled to Miami, Florida earlier today to meet with the Latin Builders Association (LBA).

Founded in 1971, the LBA is the largest Hispanic construction association in the United States. They have shaped skylines, built neighborhoods and made a significant impact on the South Florida area. And, every day, leaders like them are doing great work on the ground to do more than just rebuild our communities; they are committed to building a better and stronger America.

America on its Way to Hitting Administration’s Exporting Goals, Blank Tells ITAC Leaders

Michael C. Camuñez addresses the business leaders of the ITAC

Today, Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank participated in an event in the Department of Commerce that thanked business leaders for their service in Industry Trade Advisory Committees while also noting that their hard work was greatly aiding the private sector to export in record numbers.

Blank told ITAC representatives that while traditional drivers of U.S. economic growth – like consumer spending – are currently facing headwinds, exports remain a vital avenue to get Americans back to work. ITACs, public-private partnerships managed by the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative,  work tirelessly to help U.S. companies and employees across the country compete and win in the global economy by engaging business leaders in formulating trade policy.

Honoring Individuals Who Help Promote Peace and Commerce

Steve Calderia and Jack Earle with Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Under Secretary Sanchez

Cross post by Cory Churches is a Communications and Outreach Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs in the International Trade Administration.

Today we recognized a few of the recipients of a unique award bestowed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. Eight individuals and organizations received the International Trade Administration’s Peace through Commerce Medal Award for 2011.

Jerry Levine, President of Mentor International, Steve Calderia, CEO of the International Franchise Association and Jack Earle, CEO of the International Franchise Association were on hand to receive their awards and spoke highly of the efforts of the Commerce Department and partners in promoting exports and jobs across America.

The award, reintroduced by Sánchez, recognizes an individual, group, or organization, either domestic or abroad, whose actions have significantly promoted and developed U.S. export initiatives, encouraged innovative approaches, and improved overall U.S. trade relations.

U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Concludes with Significant Agreements

Vilsack, Bryson, Wang and Kirk in stage with JCCT logo

This week marked the conclusion of the 22nd sssion of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chengdu, China. U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk co-chaired the JCCT along with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The trip was highlighted by meaningful progress on key elements of the U.S.-China trade relationship, though much more work remains to be done to open China’s market to U.S. exports and investment.

The work done at JCCT will help boost U.S. exports and jobs through:

  • the removal of important barriers related to electric vehicles,
  • strengthened measures to eliminate discriminatory indigenous innovation policies,
  • and stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights in China. 

“Both sides worked hard to produce some meaningful progress that will help provide a needed boost to U.S. exports and jobs,” Secretary Bryson said.  “This is a step in the right direction.  But we must continue to actively engage our Chinese counterparts to open additional opportunities for U.S. businesses.”

Specifically, China agreed to make a significant systemic change in its enforcement of intellectual property rights. Through a high-level central government enforcement structure, China will make permanent its 2010 Special IPR Campaign.  China will continue high-level involvement that will enhance its ability to crack down on intellectual property rights infringement. And in addition, China’s leadership committed to increased political accountability–the performance of provincial level officials will be measured based on enforcement of intellectual property rights in their regions.

Secretary Bryson Meets with American Business Community and Chinese Investors While in Beijing

Secretary Bryson Visits Beijing Airport to See American-Made Service Vehicles

This weekend Secretary Bryson will be in Chengdu, China for the 22nd Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), the annual bilateral trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. Before going to Chengdu, the Secretary stopped in Beijing to meet with American business community and Chinese investors. He participated in a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC), and met with members of the Chinese business community to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues. Even though he was surrounded by wonderful local cuisine, Bryson stopped off at a local U.S. franchise–Subway–to highlight the success of American brands in China, and joined U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to tour Wisconsin-made airport vehicles at the Beijing Airport.

During the meeting with the American business community, Bryson shared his commitment to opening markets and leveling the playing field for U.S. companies in China and he pledged to take their issues to the JCCT meeting in Chengdu. The discussion focused on intellectual property protection, bilateral investment and China’s indigenous innovation practices.

Bryson also met with Chinese business leaders to encourage them to invest–by establishing factories, facilities, operations and offices–in the United States and to help them better understand the opportunities and ease of investing in the U.S. China's foreign direct investment in America increased nearly twelve-fold (from $0.5 billion to $5.8 billion) between 2008 and 2010. The Obama administration recently announced Select USA–the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States while cutting red tape and removing barriers.

Promoting Competitiveness in the U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Sánchez on podium, gesturing

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

One billion dollars.

That number represents the two-way trade that happens between the United States and Mexico—every day. 

It’s a remarkable statistic, and a powerful symbol of the growing trade relationship and friendship between our two countries. Clearly, the story of the U.S. and Mexico is a story of progress. And, many from both countries are committed to ensuring that the next chapter of this story is full of greater opportunities for both peoples.

That’s why, earlier today, I was privileged to co-host the California Mexico Binational Mayor’s Conference with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

We were joined by U.S. and Mexican government and business leaders who came together to identify ways to strengthen our trade relations. Thankfully, we already have a solid foundation to build on.

Combined two-way trade in goods and services was nearly $400 billion dollars in 2010. From the United States’ vantage point, Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. It’s our-second largest export market. And, in California alone, $21 billion in merchandise exports went to Mexico last year—15 percent of the state’s total merchandise. 

Clearly, this partnership has been a key to the success of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which has the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Last year, exports supported 9.2 million jobs—and Mexico has obviously helped fuel this positive economic activity. 

But, today’s global economy is moving fast. And, no country can afford to stand pat and be satisfied. We’ve got to keep changing and evolving. 

Highlighting Opportunities in India’s Renewable Energy Market

Sanchez on podium (video image)

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

India has a bright future in solar energy.

Its renewable energy market is currently valued at $17 billion dollars, and is growing at an annual rate of 15 percent.  And remarkably, there is potential for even bigger things.

According to one estimate, to keep economic growth at current levels, India will need to add 150 gigawatts of capacity over the next five years. Clearly, there is both a market and a need for clean energy in India.  And, U.S. companies have the technology and products to meet these needs and help spur economic development. 

It’s a natural partnership.  

That’s why, yesterday, during my keynote speech at SOLARCON India 2011, I urged all parties to consider new partnerships with each other so that we can build a clean future together.  

Hosted in the city of Hyderabad, the trade event brought together a wide-range of business leaders, academics and government officials to exchange ideas about the clean energy sector. Although estimates about the attendance are unavailable at this time, just last year, it drew over 4,000 people from over 30 countries.    

This year, there was incredible energy and excitement in the air. For U.S. firms, India’s solar market represents a huge opportunity to get involved in a booming sector in a growing market, resulting in thousands, if not millions, of jobs for people in both countries.

Assistant Secretary Suresh Kumar Blogs on 30th Anniversary DEC Conference

District Export Council Conference logo

Guest blog post by Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Suresh Kumar

I’m proud to be speaking at the 30th District Export Council Conference (DEC), in Las Vegas, Nevada.  We have more than 40 DECs represented from across the country at the conference this year.  The DECs are comprised of business leaders from around the country who are nominated by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service (often in consultation with other DEC members and local partner organizations) and appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.  The DECs provide guidance and mentoring to U.S. businesses looking to export, and work closely with the U.S. Commercial Service, referring these businesses to our network of U.S. Export Assistance Centers.   By supporting firms in their local communities which are looking to progress from their first international business plan to their first export sale, DEC members empower the U.S. Commercial Service in our mission of broadening and deepening the U.S. exporter base. 

Nationwide, there are 59 DECs which include the expertise of 1500 exporters and export service providers throughout the United States, who volunteer their time to promote numerous trade related activities.  DECs also create seminars that make trade finance both understandable and accessible to small exporters, host international buyer delegations, design breakthrough guides to help firms export, put exporters on the Internet and help build export assistance partnerships to strengthen the support given to local businesses interested in exporting.  As such, the DECs are critical to our effort in promoting our country's economic growth and supporting new and higher-paying jobs for their communities.

Trading Across the Border – The United States and Mexico’s $1 Billion per Day Relationship

Juan Carlos Baker, Director General of Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy with Hector Mancha Ana Hinojosa, Director of Field Operations, El Paso Field Office with Michael Camuñez, Assistant Secretary for ITA’s Market Access and Compliance.

Guest blog post by Michael Camuñez, Assistant Secretary for ITA’s Market Access and Compliance

Last year, trade between the United States and Mexico amounted to nearly $400 billion. With 85% of that trade crossing the border each day by truck, the U.S.-Mexico border region plays a vital role in the U.S. economy. And it is open for business.

This is the message I heard last Wednesday through Friday when I visited the El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico region.

As Americans, we hear a lot about our southern border, little of it positive. Drugs, violence, and illegal immigration are what we see on television and read in the newspaper. While such stories may be in the media’s economic interest, I want to share an entirely different story that is in every American’s economic interest.

Two-way trade between the United States and Mexico amounts to more than $1 billion a day. To put the scope and depth of our relationship in perspective, consider that last year U.S. exports to Mexico exceeded our exports to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. Remarkably, even our imports from Mexico support U.S. jobs—64% of the content of the Mexican goods we import include U.S. inputs. The continued growth of this relationship is vital to the America’s economic recovery.

And that is exactly why I went to the border—to discuss how infrastructure investments and improvements in customs procedures can facilitate increased trade.

To emphasize the need for a shared approach, I asked Juan Carlos Baker, Director General of Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy, to join me. Together, we met with many of the principal exporters on both sides of the border—maquiladora executives representing the Mexican private sector and U.S. small and medium sized business owners who comprise the maquiladoras’ supply chain. We had excellent discussions with both groups and received useful feedback, which we will incorporate into our respective government’s efforts to grow trade along our southern border.
 
We also visited The Bridge of the Americas, one of the busiest ports of entry on the entire U.S.-Mexico border where we were briefed by senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials regarding the challenges of advancing our dual interests: security and commerce. We communicated industry concerns and gained useful information that will inform our efforts on behalf of our respective private sectors.

Along the way, we also discussed some of the untapped potential of the border region, particularly that in renewable energy. I spoke at the U.S.-Mexico Border Energy Forum Plenary Session, where I offered insight into Commerce’s efforts to develop this sector.

What is most important is that we not lose sight of the importance of the U.S.-Mexico border to the U.S. economy and to our global competitiveness. We share much more than a border with Mexico. Our societies and cultures are inextricably linked—I should know, my family came from Mexico generations ago and settled in the border region, right near El Paso. Those ties present an enormous opportunity from which we must not be distracted.

Pushing for Progress in the Middle East and North Africa

(Photo: ©  WEF)

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

Recent events have reaffirmed just how extraordinary this period is for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  The Arab Spring has generated a lot of hope for people across the region. However, it’s also presented a number of questions that need to be answered, many of which center around economic issues like unemployment and slow growth. 

As the World Economic Forum (WEF) put it, “Recent shifts in the Arab world, coupled with an economic contraction at the global level, have created renewed urgency for decision-makers across the region to address the unfolding economic situation.”

So, it’s fitting that, this past weekend, King Abdullah of Jordan hosted a WEF event to address job creation. World leaders gathered to discuss pressing issues including the advancement of youth and women, the impact of social media, and, of course, U.S.-Arab relations.