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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Office of Chief Counsel for Industry and Security Helps BIS Secure $1.75 Million Enforcement Settlement

On May 24, 2012, the Office of Chief Counsel for Industry and Security (OCC/IS) assisted the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in reaching a settlement agreement under which Ericsson de Panama, S.A. agreed to pay $1.75 million to address 262 violations of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  BIS charged Ericsson de Panama with implementing a scheme to evade the EAR over a multi-year period, with regard to telecommunications equipment owned by the Cuban Government.  The equipment was shipped to Panama, where it was repackaged to conceal its Cuban markings, sent with falsified paperwork to the United States for repair or replacement, and then exported back to Cuba via transshipment through Panama.  The equipment involved is controlled under the EAR for national security, anti-terrorism, encryption, and sanctions reasons.  The settlement also requires an external audit of all 2012 transactions involving items subject to the EAR that are exported or re-exported to Cuban customers by Ericsson de Panama or any of its corporate affiliates. 

This settlement represents the latest in BIS’s enforcement efforts to ensure the integrity of the export control system.  BIS plays an integral part in advancing the nation’s security, foreign policy, and economic interests, and investigations and settlements like this one uphold this vital mission.  OCC/IS represents and supports BIS in all administrative enforcement matters. 

The Law of the Sea Convention is Good for American Businesses

Guest blog post by U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson

This morning at Capitol Hill Oceans Week, I spoke about the key role that oceans play in our economic recovery. America’s waters have always been a strong economic engine. After all, more than half of Americans live in coastal watershed counties. And even though this area makes up only 17 percent of U.S. land area, those counties support about 66 million jobs. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the blue economy is strong and growing.

And here is one thing we need to do to make sure that happens: ratify the Law of the Sea Convention. The U.S. Senate is now taking a hard look at having the U.S. join the Convention, which sets forth a comprehensive legal framework governing uses of the oceans. The Law of the Sea Convention will support American businesses and create American jobs, as well as bolster U.S. national security and promote energy security. We need to join the Convention now.

C-SPAN video

Spotlight on Commerce: Malcolm Lee, Director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning

Portrait of Lee

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.

I am honored to serve as Counselor to the Secretary of Commerce, where I support Secretary Bryson and lead his Office of Policy and Strategic Planning.  I direct a team of policy advisors that works across the Department and Administration to implement President Obama’s America Built to Last blueprint through focus on a few key priorities:  increasing exports and investment, and strengthening U.S. manufacturing and innovation.  As Secretary Bryson has said, our mission at Commerce is to help American businesses “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”  As part of Secretary Locke and then Secretary Bryson’s senior staff, I have focused my time on economic relations with China, U.S. manufacturing and innovation, and cybersecurity.

I joined Commerce from Microsoft, where I directed international policy and strategy in headquarters, then moved to China as General Manager for China Policy and Strategy.  Prior to that, I served at the White House and State Department during the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, working on international trade, economic and technology policy.  

I graduated from Yale College, worked in the U.S. Senate, attended University of Pennsylvania Law School, then practiced trade law.  As a young lawyer, I served on the Immigration Committee of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, and as pro bono General Counsel of the Organization of Chinese Americans.  Living in China in recent years, I was an elected governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and a member of the board of USITO, which represents U.S. technology companies in China.            

Spotlight on Commerce: Hari Sastry, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management

Hari Sastry, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management

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.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management, my main responsibility is to support the Office of the Secretary to link Budget, Performance, and Risk Management with the strategic direction of the Department. The budget for the Department of Commerce is approximately $8 billion and contains numerous Presidential priorities including trade promotion and advance manufacturing as well as programs of national security such as weather prediction and export control enforcement. Furthermore, we are working with each bureau to create a uniform enterprise risk management framework to improve Department’s ability to understand the status of major programs and make decisions based on that information. Our office plays a critical role in supporting the President’s agenda, as we use performance and risk information to formulate the budget in accordance with the Administration’s priorities. My favorite part of this job is that both policy formulation and implementation come together as budgets are formulated, allowing me to get a complete picture of how public policy works.

I was born and grew up in Chicago, IL. My parents emigrated from India in the early 1970s and have lived in the Chicago area for most of my life. I received a BS in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a focus in Epidemiology, and moved to DC in 1997 to get a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University with a focus on health policy. I worked at the Office of Management and Budget for 11 years on veterans and military health issues prior to joining the Department of Commerce.

Spotlight on Commerce: Nishith Acharya, Director, Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior Adviser

Nishith Acharya, Director, Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior 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.

As Director of the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, my main responsibility is to manage and coordinate efforts to commercialize more of the research that is funded by the federal government.  The US government provides about $150 billion in research funds to universities, labs and companies annually, and we are finding ways for support greater commercial application of that research to create successful companies and jobs. We support the President’s Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, work with over 500 universities around the country on issues of innovation and entrepreneurship, and run the i6 Challenge, which is a $1 million award to six different winners each – focused on creating more commercial ventures at our research institutes.

Our office plays a critical role in supporting the President’s agenda.  America’s greatest advantage is its innovation infrastructure and its deep culture of entrepreneurship.  Our office supports the development and implementation of programs and policies to enhance that.  This includes funding for innovation centers, coordination with universities and federal labs, and communication with entrepreneurs directly to understand their challenges and needs from the Administration.  Supporting innovation is critical for sectors such as manufacturing and energy, and entrepreneurship can never be taught too early.

I grew up in Wayland, MA, just outside of Boston.  My parents emigrated from India in the 1960’s and have lived in the Boston area for most of my life. I got my BS in Political Science and Economics from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. and then moved to DC to get my Master’s in Public Administration from the George Washington University with a specialization in international development.

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: