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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Spotlight on Commerce: Karen Hyun, Senior Policy Adviser

Karen Hyun, Senior Policy Adviser

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

At the Commerce Department, I have the privilege to serve as Secretary Bryson's senior policy adviser on energy and environment issues.  

My parents emigrated from Korea over forty years ago with a couple of suitcases and an incredible work ethic.  They eventually landed in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania, halfway between my dad's small business fixing electric motors and the Veterans' Administration medical center where my mom was a doctor.  My sisters and I were products of our parents' focus on education, independence, public service, and proximity to a good public school system.   

When I was in elementary school, my dad used to wait with me at the bus stop until the bus came to pick me up.  The only days when this did not happen were election days because my parents were already waiting in line at the polls.  Early on, they instilled in us the right and responsibility to vote.  Although it was years before I could vote, my curiosity on how democracy works was piqued at an early age.  

My parents probably wanted me to follow in their footsteps and be an engineer or a doctor, but I chose a major in Earth Systems at Stanford University.  Earth Systems is a major in environmental science and policy and I chose to focus on our ocean ecosystems.  This was my first foray into learning about public policy that led to a Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island and several years on the Committee on Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Europe Travel Log: Secretary Bryson’s Meetings and Events in Berlin, Germany

Photo of Bryson and others on elevated walkways

On May 24-25, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson visited Berlin, Germany–the final stop on his European trip this week–to meet with senior business and government leaders and to address a major conference on trans-Atlantic trade. The Secretary delivered remarks on the importance of trans-Atlantic trade and a strong bilateral investment relationship between the United States and Germany. He also highlighted Germany's vocational training system, which he witnessed first-hand earlier in the week, as an important model for the United States.

‪While in Berlin, Secretary Bryson also met with Minister for Economics and Technology Philipp Roesler, State Secretary Harald Braun of the Foreign Ministry, and Chancellor Merkel's Senior Economic Adviser Lars-Hendrik Roeller. These meetings focused on how the U.S. and Germany can work together to advance economic growth and increase jobs by reducing barriers to trans-Atlantic trade.

‪Secretary Bryson also met with Hans-Peter Keitel, Chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) along with representatives from companies across various sectors, ranging from industrial to IT to automotive and manufacturing. The Secretary encouraged the businesses to consider further investment in the United States, highlighting the attractiveness of the investment climate, including the resources provided by SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.


China Travel Log 2: Economic Talks Continue in Beijing

Secretary Bryson's visit to China continued today in Beijing where he started the morning with a breakfast with U.S. and Chinese CEOs.  The breakfast was led by Secretary Clinton and Secretary Geithner, with United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Ambassador Gary Locke also joining.  The group discussed the importance of the U.S - China economic relationship and what can be done to continue the growth of trade and investment between both countries.  Bilateral trade between the U.S. and China reached over $500 billion last year, with U.S. merchandise exports reaching $100 billion for the first time. 

The Secretary's day continued as he joined Secretary Clinton and Secretary Geithner for separate meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.  Bryson then joined Ambassador Kirk for lunch with their Chinese counterpart, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming. 

Throughout the S&ED, Bryson has stressed the importance of the U.S. - China economic relationship and how it is critical that both sides follow through on commitments made not just at this S&ED, but at prior and future talks. Or as Bryson put it, "we must work harder... we must be bold... and we must follow through." 

After the government meetings, Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Bryson participated in an event with the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the U.S. China Business Council.  There Kirk and Bryson heard straight from U.S. business leaders doing business here in China.  They discussed opportunities, challenges, and what the U.S. government can do to support increased exports from the United States to China.  

China Travel Log 1: Secretary Bryson Participates in the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing

This week, Secretary Bryson is in China on his second trip to the country as Commerce Secretary. His first stop is in Beijing where he is participating in the fourth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), along with Secretary of State Clinton, Treasury Secretary Geithner, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk and other U.S. government officials. 

The Dialogue began this morning, with a joint opening session with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The Dialogue then was split up between the Strategic track and the Economic track, with Secretary Bryson participating in the Economic track sessions.

Throughout the sessions, Secretary Bryson stressed that the U.S. and China commercial relationship will only realize its full potential if trade and competition is fair and open.

The day’s activities ended with all participants coming together for a joint dinner with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. This was the second time Secretary Bryson and Vice President Xi have met. In February of this year, Vice President Xi traveled to the United States, where Secretary Bryson joined him in both Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, where they discussed ways that the two countries can cooperate to establish a level playing field, generate economic growth and create good paying jobs.

Secretary Bryson's visit continues tomorrow in Beijing where he will meet with U.S and Chinese CEOs, as well as participate in separate meetings with President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao. Later in the week the Secretary is scheduled to travel to Nanjing and Shanghai to continue his talks with Chinese provincial government officials and business leaders to discuss how we can continue to work together to improve and grow our economic relationship.

Emphasizing Efforts to Improve Manufacturing Competitiveness

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank listens to members of the Council on Competitiveness Executive Board

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Yesterday, I spoke to the Council on Competitiveness Executive Board about how the Commerce Department, working with the National Economic Council, leads the administration’s efforts across the federal government to promote a vibrant manufacturing sector in the United States.

Manufacturing is vitally important to supporting an economy that is built to last. Manufacturing accounts for 90 percent of our patents, 70 percent of private sector R&D and 60 percent of our exports–including a record $1.3 trillion in goods exported last year. The manufacturing sector has grown strongly over the past two years. After decades of losing manufacturing jobs, the manufacturing sector has been adding jobs for over two years. In the past 25 months manufacturing has added nearly a half million new jobs and 120,000 of those came in the first three months of this year. Importantly, these tend to be high-paying jobs with good benefits.

Even with these improvements in the manufacturing sector, there is much more work to do to ensure America remains competitive. The Department of Commerce recently released a report, “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States,” that discusses some of the challenges the U.S. faces in retaining its global leadership, particularly in manufacturing, and lays out a policy agenda to address these challenges.

Commerce has long worked on this issue through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which supports centers in every state that consult with companies facing technological problems and puts them in touch with scientists and engineers who can help solve those problems. For every dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates around $30 in new sales growth. This translates into $3.6 billion in new sales annually.

Some of the more recent efforts within the Commerce Department to build a policy environment in which manufacturing can flourish include:

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks to Silicon Valley Business Leaders

Secretary Bryson addresses the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in San Jose, CA.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks and participated in a discussion today at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) annual “CEO Business Climate” Summit at IBM in San Jose, Calif. Bryson focused on the ways the administration is supporting American competitiveness and innovation.

In the past 25 months, the United States has added nearly four million jobs, and SVLG reported today that more than 60 percent of their members had added jobs last year. These jobs help continue to strengthen the country’s economic recovery, and Bryson laid out a few of the ways to helping businesses keep that momentum going.

Bryson discussed the importance of investment in the U.S. by both domestic and foreign firms, including through the Commerce Department’s SelectUSA initiative.

He also emphasized the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where many job openings exist. The president’s 2013 budget requests $3 billion in STEM programs across the federal government. In addition, this week, President Obama is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would prevent interest rates from doubling for seven and one-half million students starting July 1.

U.S. to See Boost in International Tourism

Secretary Bryson Speaking at the U.S. Travel Association's International Pow Wow

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson has announced that the U.S.’ number-one services export, travel and tourism, is growing stronger, creating jobs and boosting the American economy.

The Secretary announced today that the United States can expect to see a 4-5 percent average annual growth in tourism over the next five years, predicting that 65.4 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the United States in 2012 alone.

The Spring 2012 Travel and Tourism Forecast, released semi-annually by the International Trade Association (ITA), predicts continued strong growth in tourism to the U.S. following two consecutive record-setting years.

Secretary Bryson announced the Forecast at the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow annual event in Los Angeles, where he delivered remarks before more than 5,000 people from 70 countries from the travel and tourism industry.

Secretary Bryson Congratulates 2010 and 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Recipients

Secretary Bryson applauds the 2010 and 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients

On Sunday, Commerce Secretary John Bryson congratulated the 11 U.S. organizations who were awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. Eligibility for the award was expanded in 1998 to include education and health care and in 2007 to include nonprofit organizations. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. Since 1988, 90 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.

2010 Award Recipients

  • MEDRAD (a division of Bayer Healthcare), Warrendale, Pa. (manufacturing)
  • Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., St. Louis, Mo. (manufacturing)
  • Freese and Nichols Inc., Fort Worth, Texas (small business)
  • K&N Management, Austin, Texas (small business)
  • Studer Group, Gulf Breeze, Fla. (small business)
  • Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Md. (education)
  • Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Ill. (health care)

2011 Award Recipients

  • Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo. (nonprofit)
  • Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich. (health care)
  • Schneck Medical Center, Seymour, Ind. (health care)
  • Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska (health care)

Get additional information on the Baldrige Award, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, and profiles of the 2010 and 2011 Award recipients.

Intellectual Property-Intensive Industries Contribute $5 Trillion, 40 Million Jobs to U.S. Economy

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our IP system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

Today, the U.S. Commerce Department released a comprehensive report showing that intellectual property protections have a direct and significant impact on the U.S. economy. The report, entitled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” finds that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5.06 trillion dollars to, or nearly 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

While IP is used in virtually every segment of the U.S. economy, our report identifies the 75 industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively. These “IP-intensive” industries support more than a quarter of all jobs in the United States. Twenty-seven million of those are either on payroll or under employment contracts, working directly for the IP-intensive industries, and nearly 13 million more are indirectly supported through the supply chains that service these industries. In other words, every two jobs in IP-intensive industries support an additional job elsewhere in the economy. 

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Manufacturers in Tennessee

Secretary Bryson cuts ribbon at new Whirlpool manufacturing facility in Cleveland, TN

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson traveled to Cleveland, Tennessee, where he visited the Whirlpool Corporation for a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new, one-million square foot manufacturing facility. The $200 million factory is the largest premium cooking product manufacturing and distribution facility in the world, exemplifying the Secretary’s mission to help U.S. business build it here and sell it everywhere. The opening of the facility marked 100 years of Whirlpool manufacturing Made-in-America products.

While in Tennessee, the Secretary also made a stop in Chattanooga to visit the Volkswagen manufacturing plant, which builds the 2012 Passat. Volkswagen recently announced that they were adding a third shift to the operation at their Chattanooga plant in response to increased consumer demand, which will create over 700 additional jobs. This development is just one more example of the continued resurgence of the American manufacturing industry.

In fact, today, the Economics and Statistics Administration highlighted data showing that automakers are contributing heavily to the success of American manufacturing. The report finds that auto sales are at the highest level since the first quarter of 2008.