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Blog Category: NEI

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.

Our Biotech Trade Mission in China: Developing Prosperous Partnerships

Sánchez, officials at DiaCarta signing ceremony

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.”

That’s a proverb I learned during my recent trip to China, where I led a delegation of 19 U.S. biotech companies on a trade mission. Today marked the end of our journey. But, I’m confident that the steps we took will help these firms generate new opportunities in the region.     

As I get ready to depart, I’m struck by the huge possibilities in the country. China’s biotech sector is growing roughly 25 percent a year. Its market is huge in terms of sales and clinical trial opportunities, as well as potential investment. And, China’s enormous consumer base and impressive economic growth further reinforce the importance of the market for U.S. firms.

Acting Secretary Blank Encourages Innovation in Green Energy Technologies

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at a green energy conference today hosted by Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Brookings Institution and the Clean Energy Group at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The conference was held for policy makers from federal, state, and foreign governments, and industry and academia. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos, EDA Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy also participated.

In her remarks, Blank focused on issues facing clean energy development today and ways to overcome obstacles through more strategic state and federal policy. Blank highlighted efforts by Obama administration initiatives aimed at creating jobs, increasing exports and securing America’s energy future. Topics at the forum included technology transfer and commercialization, public investment, procurement and policy, federal and state economic support for clean energy industries, and international collaboration on clean energy technologies.  Remarks

Acting Secretary Blank Meets with Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and Announces the Latest Data on International Visitation and Visitor Expenditures

This morning Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank met with key business leaders at the final meeting of the Commerce Department’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to discuss the President’s plan to create jobs across America, highlighting the essential role of the travel and tourism industry to American jobs and the American economy.  She announced that international visitors spent a record-setting $13.3 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month of July – $1.8 billion or 15 percent more than was spent in July 2010.

The travel and tourism industry accounts for 25 percent of exports in services and 7 percent of all U.S. exports. Travel and tourism is one the industries targeted to help grow jobs across America and achieve the goal of doubling exports through President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI).   The Board meeting highlighted collaboration between the federal government and the private sector to address policy issues to help increase legitimate international travel to the United States.

The United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board is the premier source of industry advice to the Secretary of Commerce.  The Board has met five times throughout their charter term, providing industry input on travel facilitation, airport security, marketing, communications, research and data and energy policy. It has been rechartered and is accepting applications for the next board - deadline is Friday.

Green Building is Booming in Brazil

Lamb on tour photo

Guest blog post by Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services, International Trade Administration

“It’s Brazil’s Time!”  I still can hear the clarion call of Rick Fedrizzi, President of the U.S. Green Building Council, from his opening speech during the Green Building Conference Brasil in São Paulo last week.  I was in Brazil to foster expanded commercial ties between Brazilian and American firms in the green building and energy sectors and advance the objectives of the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue.  For a portion of the trip, I accompanied 14 companies participating in the Department of Commerce-certified, Brazil-U.S. Business Council-organized Trade Mission. These are innovative and forward-thinking small and medium companies interested and ready to export green building products to Brazil.

Fedrizzi also pointed out that Brazil was among the top five countries for LEED certifications, so there is definitely a market opportunity for these companies. It also helps that financing is available for construction of buildings designed to LEED specifications.  Brazil is rushing to get ready for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Six Cities, Ten Days and Hundreds of Businesses

Sanchez is on a tour of a manufacturing facility

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

From Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Albuquerque to Walnut Creek, I spent last week traversing the Southwestern United States talking to small businesses, textile manufacturers, exporters and rural communities about the positive impact exporting has on our economic stability and potential to put people back to work.

During this trip, I met with leaders from more than 150 businesses to discuss President Obama’s National Export Initiative and how important it is for small- and medium-sized businesses to expand their markets through exporting. I also reinforced the importance of leveraging the public-private partnerships that will foster investment, support communities and assist rural businesses to succeed, expand and create jobs.

In New Mexico, I spoke to businesses about the importance of the APEC economies, which have generated nearly 200 million new jobs and 70 percent of overall global economic growth during the past decade. APEC members increasingly represent the global economy of the 21st century.

Acting Secretary Blank Tours Steel Facility in Warren, Ohio

 Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank Tours Thomas Steel in Warren, OH

Blank highlights Obama administration economic initiatives and new Commerce program designed to attract foreign investment, create jobs

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Warren, Ohio, today to tour Thomas Steel Strip Corporation, a member of the Tata Steel Europe Group and a manufacturer of cold-rolled strips usually used as steel casings for batteries. Thomas Steel employs more than 250 people.

After the tour, Blank discussed the importance of strengthening our education, infrastructure and innovation capacity as ways to rebuild our economic foundation, create jobs and enhance our global competitiveness. She also underscored the steps the administration has already taken to achieve these priorities–from investing in community colleges and funding transportation projects across the country, to launching the President’s National Export Initiative and pushing to shorten the time it takes to approve a patent. 

Blank also highlighted the significance of foreign direct investment (FDI), citing Tata Steel as an example of foreign companies whose investments the U.S. must attract more of to strengthen economic growth and job creation.  With FDI supporting more than five million American jobs, Blank discussed a new government-wide initiative, housed at Commerce–SelectUSA–which seeks to cut federal red tape for domestic and foreign investors, remove barriers to new investment and boost business growth in the United States. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Jon Wright, Legislative Assistant in the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Photo of Jon Wright

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.

Jon Wright is a Legislative Assistant in the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

My boss describes me as the office’s “utility infielder,” because I help the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs manage Department-wide special projects as a legislative assistant in the Secretary’s Congressional and state government liaison office

During my time at Commerce, I have had a wide variety of responsibilities and experiences from responding to Congressional oversight inquiries to staffing a Congressional delegation led by Secretary Locke to South Korea to build support for the U.S.–Korea Trade Agreement. The experience in government that impacted me most, however, was serving as a liaison to the Coast Guard Florida Incident Commander during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill where I advised him on handling the concerns of federal, state, and local elected officials.  It was my job to help ensure that the people who represent Floridians and Florida business owners were being heard. The response team and the administration were committed to addressing the economic and personal impacts of the spill, and I was proud to play a part in that.

The US-India Economic Partnership – a 21st Century Partnership Built on Innovation and Collaboration.

Assistant Secretary Camunez with one of the Research Directors at the GE Jack Welch Technology Center in Bangalore, India.

Guest blog by Michael Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance.

President  Obama has observed that “The relationship between the United States and India-- bound by our shared interests and values -- will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”

This week, my first trip to India has focused on deepening the economic and trade dimensions of our bilateral partnership. I began in Mumbai, passed through Bangalore, and ended in Delhi.

The stunning growth of the Indian economy is well known.  India has embraced global trade and competition, cutting its top applied tariff rates on industrial goods from more than 100% before liberalization to about 10-12% currently. Today, annual growth rates in excess of eight percent percent have become commonplace. 

As part of this story, the US-India partnership has been hard at work, with great success. The United States is the largest source of foreign investment in India. In 2009, total U.S. FDI in India was $18.6 billion, up 12 percent from 2008.

American corporations who’ve set up shop in India are partnering with leading local companies and professionals to do great things.

Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Releases 2011 National Export Strategy: Powering the National Export Initiative to Congress

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, on behalf of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, today released to Congress the 2011 National Export Strategy: Powering the National Export Initiative (PDF). The report reinforces the importance of U.S. exports of goods and services, which in 2010 totaled $1.84 trillion, an increase of nearly 17% over 2009 levels, and supported more than 9 million jobs in the United States.

Starting with this report, the annual National Export Strategy will fill the essential role of tracking and measuring the federal government’s progress in implementing the NEI. The TPCC will assess new opportunities and seek new ways for its agencies to improve coordination and increase effectiveness.  The National Export Strategy identifies the four areas of focus during 2011:

  • Collaborating with states, metropolitan areas, and border communities to help U.S. companies successfully export around the globe;
  • Encouraging exports by U.S. companies selling technologies in high-growth sectors;
  • Ensuring better data and measurement of U.S. services sector exporting; and
  • Removing barriers to trade, including through passage of the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements.