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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Spotlight on Commerce: Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

Secretary Locke Addresses the Committee of 100

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 winning the future through their work.

Gary Locke is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

As we continue to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, it is important for us to reflect on our past – the difficulties we had growing up in immigrant families, the accomplishments our community has achieved and the barriers we still need to knock down.

Being an Asian American now is certainly different from when I was growing up.  In the Ozzie and Harriet era in which I was born, I thought I had to choose between being Chinese and being American.  I remembered that most mornings, my grade school teacher would ask us what we had for breakfast.  If we had eaten anything that was considered “un-American” – in my case, it was the rice porridge with fish and vegetables that my mother gave me – my teacher would slap our hands with a ruler. 

When I was young, I constantly struggled between my desire to be more “American” and my parents’ attempt to make me more “Chinese”.  It took the civil rights movement to teach me that I could be both Chinese and American.  I could be Chinese-American.  I could be myself.  I could be loyal and patriotic to the Star-Spangled Banner and still eat with chopsticks. 

Secretary Locke Attends Productive Meetings During the Third Meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Secretary Locke and Chinese Minister of Commerce, Chen Deming, Pose For a Photo During Their Meeting

On Monday and Tuesday, Secretary Locke, along with Secretary Clinton and Geithner, engaged with their Chinese counterparts at the third meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Since becoming Commerce secretary, Locke has played a key role in the Obama administration’s efforts to improve the commercial environment in China and open up its markets for U.S. businesses. Locke, who co-chaired two sessions of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, led a clean energy trade mission to China and Indonesia in May 2010 and accompanied President Obama on his visit to China in November 2009, has worked to level the playing field for U.S. businesses and promoted American-made products and services in the Chinese market, in order to create good-paying American jobs and advance President Obama’s National Export Initiative. 

On Monday, Secretary Locke attended the opening session with Vice President Joe Biden and participated in both the economic and strategic track sessions of the Dialogue.  During the meetings, Locke discussed top U.S. government priorities regarding China, including transparency, intellectual property rights protection and China’s policies toward its state-owned enterprises and national champions.  He spoke about prospects of cooperation with China on issues related to marine living resources, ocean policies and environmental protection.

On Tuesday, Locked hosted a meeting with Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming to continue their ongoing engagement to strengthen U.S.-China commercial relations. In the afternoon, he joined Secretaries Clinton and Geithner in a small group lunch at the Blair House with U.S. and Chinese CEOs and business leaders to engage the business communities of both countries and discuss ways to improve the U.S.-China economic relationship.

Spotlight on Commerce: Victoria Tung, Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Victoria Tung, Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

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 winning the future through their work.

Victoria Tung is the Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and Senior Advisor on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs.

In my role, I advise Secretary Locke and our Assistant Secretaries on legislative issues and congressional relations, as well as outreach to state and local government. I manage these efforts and the Department’s relationships with eight congressional committees of jurisdiction across my portfolio, which includes economic development, census/economic analysis, minority business development, innovation and entrepreneurship and recovery act implementation.  Additionally, I advise Secretary Locke on Asian American and Pacific Islander issues and am working closely with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to increase access to and participation in federal programs for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).

Today, and throughout this entire month, we commemorate the courage and contributions of early Asian American and Pacific Islanders who journeyed to the United States, set up lives here against unbelievable odds and laid out roots for future generations.  I know that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my great grandparents and grandparents who left China after the war in search of a better life for our family in America.  Their strength and perseverance continues to inspire me and is the story of many Asian American families in this country.  During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we honor the pioneers, the laborers, the veterans, the entrepreneurs, the trailblazers and the families – all who worked hard to open the doors of opportunity to a new generation.

Secretary Locke Addresses Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the United States and the Current State of U.S.-China Commercial Relations

Secretary Locke Addresses the Asia Society at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

This morning, Secretary Locke addressed the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China. The groups today released a new study that shows Chinese foreign direct investment in America doubling in each of the last two years. Chinese investors now have investments in at least 35 of our 50 states, across dozens of industries, employing thousands of Americans. Locke welcomed this news, but also noted progress the U.S. needs to see from Beijing to improve the business environment for American companies trying to invest or expand into China.

He said, “When it comes to market access problems for foreign companies, the issues may be different, but the fundamental problem often boils down to the distance between the promises of China’s government and action.”

Secretary Locke to Deliver Speech on Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the U.S. and U.S.-China Commercial Relations (webcast)

Ahead of the third U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue on May 9-10, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will deliver a speech at 10:30 Eastern today on Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States and the current state of U.S.-China commercial relations.   

The Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States will release a comprehensive report by the Rhodium Group on Chinese FDI at today’s event – “An American Open Door? Maximizing the Benefits of Chinese Direct Investment.” Others expected to attend include Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Zhang Yesui, former U.S. Ambassador to China Stapleton Roy and Director of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell.  

The Wilson Center is hosting a webcast of the event between 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Secretary Locke and Congressional Delegation Conclude Productive South Korea Meetings

Secretary Locke, Reps Crowley and Reichert Overlook North Korea from the DMZ

Today Secretary Gary Locke and the congressional delegation concluded their three-day trip to Seoul with a visit to the Demilitarized Zone – the border between South and North Korea – and a lunch with U.S troops and their families at Yongsan Garrison to thank them for their service. The group also met with leaders of South Korea’s Democratic Party and Grand National Party at Korea’s National Assembly to discuss the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS).

“Over the last few days we have had the opportunity to see first-hand the benefits that KORUS will bring to the economies of both the U.S. and Korea,” Locke said. “There is great demand for U.S. products -- from made-in-America cell phone components to life-saving medical equipment. This agreement will increase mutually beneficial trade, strengthen our economies and create jobs in both of our countries.”

Locke also visited Seoul National University Hospital for a demonstration of Varian Medical Systems’ (Palo Alto, Calif.) advanced radiotherapy technology.  Varian is the world leader in this life-saving, cancer treatment technology with approximately $34 million worth of annual sales to South Korea.  Their equipment is manufactured in California and Utah and exported globally. Under the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement, the tariff on Varian’s products would be eliminated, making the company more competitive in the Korean market. 

Varian Medical Systems Could Save More Lives and Compete More Efficiently Under U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement

Secretary Locke, Reps. McDermott and Reichert Listen to an Explanation of How the Varian Linear Accelerator Works

Guest blog post by Timothy E. Guertin, President and CEO of Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, CA.

Editor’s Note:  Varian Medical Systems focuses energy on saving lives. By partnering with customers and others, the people of Varian develop leading solutions for improving cancer treatment, X-ray imaging, and security.

Varian Medical Systems is honored that Secretary Locke and an esteemed Congressional delegation devoted time to seeing our systems treating cancer patients at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH), while on a trade mission to the Republic of Korea.  SNUH, a longtime partner of Varian, provides some of the most leading edge cancer treatments available to those stricken with this terrible disease.  The Varian linear accelerators that perform radiotherapy treatments at SNUH were manufactured in California and then installed and serviced by a team of technicians in Seoul, providing jobs on both sides of the Pacific.

While visiting the radiation oncology department at SNUH, Secretary Locke was able to see firsthand the easy and painless process a cancer patient goes through when being treated with radiotherapy.  Radiotherapy is a non-invasive technique that targets tumors with high-energy photon beams that stop cancer cells from reproducing.   Treatments on Varian linear accelerators are tailored for each patient, focusing on breast, prostate, brain, lung and other types of cancers.    In the next several months, SNUH will be acquiring the new Varian TrueBeam system that will enable clinicians in Seoul to treat more complex cases, while at the same time reducing treatment times for patients.

Trading with South Korea

Congressman Jim McDermott with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, South Korea – April 26, 2011

Guest blog post from Congressman Jim McDermott, who is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Trade, and represents the city of Seattle, WA in the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote this post while on the CODEL trip to Korea with Secretary Locke.

The U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement is something that is good for both countries.  For South Korea, this is an opportunity to solidify their position as a world economic power by establishing a relationship with the United States. They are in a situation where they are surrounded by China, North Korea and Japan. They are a group of 50 million people who since the Korean War have gone from absolute devastation to a solid economic performer – a country that can deal with the United States on an equal basis.

When we began trading with an impoverished South Korea, we opened our doors and lowered our tariffs to the point where they paid almost nothing to export to the United States. Simultaneously, we paid enormous tariffs when we exported to South Korea – tariffs that are still in effect.

I’ll give you an example: a bottle of wine that would cost $13 in Seattle would cost $68 here in Seoul because of the tariffs. With the new trade agreement, those tariffs will come down and we will have Washington State wine sold here in Korea. Instead of drinking French, Italian, Spanish and Argentinean wines, they will be drinking Washington wine. That’s just one example of how we stand to benefit from an economic standpoint.

Secretary Locke and Members of Congress Tour Pantech and Meet with U.S. Businesses in Korea

On the second day of the CODEL trip to Korea, Secretary Locke and the congressional delegation visited Pantech, one of the largest mobile phone makers in South Korea, to see firsthand how the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement will help American and South Korean businesses and workers in today’s global manufacturing and supply chain. 

Currently, Pantech imports about half a billion dollars worth of U.S. products annually, including chipsets from Qualcomm (San Diego, Calif.) and Gorilla Glass from Corning Inc. (Corning, New York).  Gorilla Glass is manufactured in Harrodsburg, Kentucky and is exported around the world for use in smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices and has applications across a large range of industries.  In addition, nearly 60 percent of Pantech’s production equipment is made by U.S. companies.

With the approval and implementation of the U.S.-South Korea agreement, Pantech is expected to quadruple its purchase of U.S. products by 2015, while Corning will see existing tariffs on Gorilla Glass eliminated immediately upon implementation of the agreement. Corning, utilizing these benefits, will gain market share in South Korea’s growing mobile-device market by enhancing its competitiveness vis-à-vis other manufacturers in the region.  Corning is also investing $180 million to expand its factory in Harrodsburg in order to meet the growing demands of its customers in Asia, including South Korea.  Earlier in the day, Locke met with his South Korean counterpart, the Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-Kyung, to discuss KORUS and the cooperative relationship between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

AMCHAM Korea Welcomes Secretary Locke to Seoul

Amy Jackson, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, Hosts Secretary Locke During a Luncheon in Seoul, Korea.

Guest blog post by Amy Jackson, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM Korea) was very pleased to welcome Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and his delegation of four distinguished Members of Congress to Korea this week.  Their visit symbolizes the strong ties that underline the U.S.-Korea bilateral relationship – and also the expectation that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) will soon be taken up by the legislatures in both countries for a vote.

AMCHAM Korea is the oldest and largest foreign business association in Korea.  We are a fully private organization, and we have around 2,000 individual members coming from about 1,000 companies that span all sectors of the economy – aerospace, automotive, agriculture, consumer products, financial services, healthcare, education, professional services, and many more.   Our member companies are big and small and employee hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers throughout the United States. 

Our key message to Secretary Locke and his delegation was that early ratification of the KORUS FTA is essential for the continued success of U.S. companies in the $1 trillion dollar Korean economy.  Our members emphasized that they compete head-to-head with European companies here, and once the Korea-EU FTA goes into effect on July 1, European companies will have a significant cost advantage over their U.S. competitors.  In addition, companies in the Congressional districts of the Members who accompanied the Secretary noted that they are already looking at changes in their supply chains as a result of the Korea-EU and KORUS FTAs.  If KORUS goes into effect soon, this could mean significant increase in sourcing from U.S. suppliers.