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U.S. Delegation Participates in the 24th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)

U.S. Delegation Participates in the 24th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today in Beijing led the American delegation in the 24th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).  Hosted by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, the JCCT discussions also included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The United States announced key outcomes in the areas of intellectual property rights, government procurement, and regulatory obstacles.

The JCCT holds high-level plenary meetings on an annual basis to review progress made by working groups that focus on a wide variety of trade issues. These working groups meet throughout the year to address topics such as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology, tourism, commercial law, environment, and statistics.

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the main forum for addressing bilateral trade issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. The 2012 JCCT meeting was held in Washington, DC.

The meetings included a number of specific outcomes, which can be found here:

Celebrating 40 Years Protecting and Recovering Endangered Species

Eastern Steller sea lion, the most recent delisting from NOAA Fisheries

This December is the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—the legislation protecting our country’s diverse wildlife and the legacy left for future generations. The Act, signed into law on December 28, 1973, by President Nixon, provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife, and plants. It has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species and promotes the recovery of many others while conserving the habitats upon which they depend.

Endangered species recovery is complex and difficult work, requiring the efforts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many committed partners. Just as it takes a long time for species to reach the brink of extinction, it takes a long time to bring them back. 

Big Turnout in NYC Puts Spotlight on Exporting Anniversary

Image of mayor's proclamation

Cross-post, ITA's blog Tradeology by Curt Cultice, Senior Communications Specialist

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City was the setting on a wintery Monday, December 16, as more than 250 businesspeople and other participants turned out for the 100th anniversary celebration of the opening of the New York U.S. Export Assistance Center. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also proclaimed December 16 as “NY U.S. Export Assistance Center Day,” further recognizing the impressive milestone.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke keynoted the event, saying, “New York businesses recognized 100 years ago what we know holds true today: The world is full of consumers who highly value U.S.-made products.”

Last year, the New York City metro area exported $102.3 billion in merchandise exports to world markets, making it the 2nd largest metropolitan export source in the United States.  Read ITA's full blog

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Praises Commerce Employees as Top Innovation Leaders in Government

Acting Deputy Secretary Patrick Gallagher praised four Commerce Department employees today for being among the most innovative employees working in government information technology. Employees at both the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were among the top forward-thinking people working in government IT. 

The employees were chosen by FierceGovernmentIT, the publication that annually recognizes a group it calls the "Fierce 15” and tracks federal government information technology developments in U.S. government. The Commerce employees included on this list are the U.S Census Bureau’s Lisa Wolfisch, along with Patrick Grother, Naomi Lefkovitz and Kevin Stine from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher praised the employees saying they "represent the best the Commerce Department has to offer in spurring innovation across the Federal IT sector. Their efforts have helped provide greater access to our data by businesses and communities and have furthered the administration’s efforts in cybersecurity, privacy standards and biometric technology.” 

Commerce Department Installs Solar Panels on Headquarters for First Time

Categories:
Officials atop the HCHB in Washington with solar panels

The Department of Commerce this week installed three solar panels on the roof of its headquarters, the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) in downtown Washington, D.C. The first of its kind for the building, the installation is part of Commerce’s efforts to increase its use of renewable energy and commitment to environmental stewardship.

The installation also supports President Obama’s December 5 memo challenging federal agencies to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Two Commerce agencies–the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)–have already installed solar panels on some of their facilities in recent years. The Department is challenging all Commerce bureaus to pursue renewable energy, implement energy conservation campaigns, and lead by example as good stewards of the environment.

NOAA Dedicates Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu

Alternate TextNOAA dedicates Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu

On Monday, December 16, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held a dedication ceremony to unveil the
Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center located on Ford Island in Honolulu. The facility, named for the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye in January 2013, is the last phase of a campus environment that will house 15 NOAA offices with more than 700 staff, and most of the NOAA assets in Hawai'i.

Acting NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan attended the dedication ceremony along with the late senator's wife, Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye, members of the Hawai'i Congressional delegation, as well as Navy, state, and local representatives. Senator Inouye passed away in December 2012, after a distinguished, nearly 50-year career in the United States Senate.

In her remarks, Dr. Sullivan stressed the fact that Senator Inouye was a great friend to NOAA and a great advocate for Hawaiians and our country's natural resources. The late Senator Inouye, with support from the Hawai'i Congressional delegation and the state of Hawai'i, led the effort to redevelop Ford Island and secure the necessary funding for a world class facility to support NOAA's science, service and stewardship mission in the Pacific Region. The $331 million project was partially funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and represents the largest capital facility project in NOAA's history.

In January 2013, the facility was named in Senator Inouye's honor, in recognition of his significant contribution to ocean and environmental issues and his steadfast support for the construction of the campus.

The center is a 35-acre parcel on federally owned property and combines new facilities with the historic preservation of four buildings culminating into a campus which is environmentally sustainable, state of the art, and Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold Certified. Specifically, the project involves the renovation and construction of a new central office and laboratory facility, logistics warehouse and seawater facility, port facility, and piers for both large and small vessels.

NOAA anticipates the new facility will save more than $3 million per year in operating and other costs by eliminating office leases, lower energy costs, and consolidation of information technology infrastructure. The site location inspired the designers to feature three key natural resources - water, wind, and sun - into a high-performance facility well adapted to its site, climate and culture.

Secretary Pritzker Holds First Twitter Chat And Tweets About Open For Business Agenda

Secretary Penny Pritzker held a Twitter chat today where she took questions about the Department’s Open for Business agenda.

The “Open for Business Agenda” focuses on a revitalized National Export Initiative, an enhanced and expanded program to attract foreign investment, a first-of-its-kind, Commerce effort to ensure skills training programs meet industry needs, and a focus on public-private partnerships that enable businesses and communities to make better use of government data.

During her thirty minute chat, she answered 12 questions submitted with the #Open4Biz hashtag. She answered questions from Steve Case, prominent business organizations and a small business owner, among others.

The Secretary answered questions about trade, innovation, job skills, and data. You can see the entire Twitter chat below.

Why Immigration Reform Matters

Secretary Pritzker visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall to show support for passing commonsense immigration

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

This week, I visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to show our support for passing commonsense immigration reform. I was humbled by the courageous men and women we spoke with, who are making a personal sacrifice to end the human suffering they have witnessed as a result of our current immigration system. 

The “Fast for Families” was launched by faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders on November 12 and has been ongoing since.  The dedicated leaders who have gathered to fast on the National Mall have been driven by their individual experiences, but they are united in their commitment to seeing Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Those I met with included Rudy Lopez, who had already completed 21 days of his fast. I spoke with the son of Iranian immigrants, the daughter of migrant workers, and an undocumented immigrant from Mexico City who was on the fifth day of her fast. They each had a different story, but they all expressed their desire to live in a country that remains the source of hope and opportunity for people all over the world.

The fact is, the vibrant fabric of this nation has always been made up of immigrants. My great grandfather came to the United States in the 1800s from Czarist Russia, dirt poor, at the age of 10. He taught himself English, worked several jobs, earned his law degree at night, and opened a law practice at the age of 30 in 1902. His story is the story of countless immigrants to this country, who come to America seeking a better life and better opportunities. In doing so, they have contributed to our success as a nation.

In 2011, immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in the United States, though they only accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population. And, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

The President and the Senate’s bipartisan proposal builds a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and makes sure that every business and every worker plays by the same set of rules. Estimates are that the Senate-passed immigration reform bill can grow the economy by $1.4 trillion over the next two decades and reduce the deficit by nearly $850 billion. Commonsense reform will also attract the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here. As well, it will provide our nation’s best and brightest foreign students with an opportunity to pursue an education and stay in this country after graduation.  Immigration reform will also reunite families in a timely and humane manner.

I have traveled all over the country since I was sworn in as Secretary of Commerce nearly 6 months ago, and I have heard tremendous support for passing immigration reform. The business community understands the numerous ways in which immigrants to this country not only benefit our economy but enrich our nation. The passionate example set by the fasters – who are so dedicated to making their voices heard – is one we can all emulate. Their courage and commitment is shining a light on what is morally right for this country and the values we, as Americans, represent. 

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Addresses First-Ever American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit

Acting Deputy Secretary Patrick Gallagher yesterday spoke at the first-ever American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership Summit in Washington, DC. Co-hosted by the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Office and the Council on Competitiveness, the first annual gathering brought together leaders from government, academia, industry and more to address national priorities in energy and manufacturing.

Dr. Gallagher gave brief remarks on the importance of energy and manufacturing to the Administration, the Commerce Department, and to our country as a whole. For many reasons, including the generation of more renewable energy than ever before, the U.S. has become an increasingly attractive place for foreign direct investment.

Several Commerce agencies are working to help companies continue to deepen their investments in the United States in order to maintain the U.S. position as the world's leading producer of environmental technologies in the 21st century.  Specifically, Gallagher cited National Institute of Standards and Technology scientists who are reengineering America's electric grid and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's efforts to fast-track patent applications related to renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

The Commerce Department is at the intersection of issues like energy, sustainability, the environment, innovation and competitiveness, whose links are becoming stronger and more complex. Manufacturing in particular is a key indicator of our country’s innovative capacity, which is why strengthening manufacturing is a major focus of the Commerce Department's recently released "Open for Business Agenda." As the federal agency responsible for leading the government’s manufacturing policy, Commerce plans to support manufacturing at every stage of the product life cycle. Specific initiatives include promoting pre-competitive collaboration among leading-edge manufacturers nationwide and investing in communities that develop comprehensive strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers.

Travel and Tourism Leaders Provide Four Recommendations to the Secretary to Further President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy

Guest blog post by Todd Davidson, Chair and Sam Gilliland, Vice Chair, of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board

The United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board) serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The Board held its final meeting this week and provided the following recommendations to Secretary Pritzker for priority issues to be examined over the next three years.

This week, the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board had its final meeting with Secretary Pritzker and submitted our top priority recommendations to enhance travel and tourism to and within the United States. The President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy last year identified the exciting and overarching goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors by the end of 2021. Here are our top priorities aimed at achieving this goal:

Visa and Entry Process. Our country will not get a second chance to make a positive first impression on international travelers, and long entry wait times at ports of entry are seriously undermining that impression. We need more Customs and Border Patrol officers, but we also need to use technology to move people more efficiently. We must commit to processing all visitors to our country within 30 minutes of their arrival. The travel and tourism industry supports passage of the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act. This legislation is chock full of goodness: it would reauthorize Brand USA, modernize and expand the Visa Waiver Program, facilitate the use of secure videoconferencing for visas, reduce visa wait times, and expand the highly successful Global Entry program.

Infrastructure Investment. With more international and domestic travelers visiting the United States, we must improve America’s transportation infrastructure, including our airports, rail system and highways. Substantial investment and new requirements for sustainable practices are urgently required. Commerce should identify and address the nexus between inadequate transportation infrastructure and hindered economic growth and create a public-private forum to formulate solutions. We need speedy investment and implementation of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System (NextGen) and a public awareness campaign about how NextGen improves the travel experience by enhancing safety, reducing delays, saving fuel and reducing emissions.