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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Economic Ministers from Canada and Mexico During Visit to San Diego

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Economic Ministers from Canada and Mexico During Visit to San Diego

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke discussed the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and expressed hopes of broadening and deepening the North American economic and trade relationship during meetings today with Canadian Minister of Industry Tony Clement and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Gerardo Ruiz. Locke identified Canada and Mexico as critical partners in helping North American businesses become more competitive abroad while supporting job creation here at home.

“Our economies are deeply interdependent, and it is important that we continue to take steps that strengthen this relationship, making North America more competitive,” Locke said. “Through the support provided to manufacturers by President Obama’s National Export Initiative, American exporters and their regional partners can take advantage of the global marketplace.”

Locke, Clement and Ruiz agreed to continue regional collaboration through the work of their respective teams and to engage in quarterly conversations to ensure progress on issues such as regulatory cooperation and intellectual property rights enforcement leading up to the next North American Leaders’ Summit.

Canada and Mexico are the first- and third-largest trading partners of the United States. Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico have grown 135 percent and total trade among all three countries has grown 148 percent. While the U.S. enjoys strong economic ties and trade with Canada and Mexico, the three countries can do more to support economic growth and development, Locke noted.

“We have an excellent framework in place--through annual meetings of North American government leaders—to address ways to deepen our economic relationship,” he said. “We have increased our cooperation on regulatory matters, the protection of intellectual property rights, and ways to increase the flow of legitimate goods across our borders, but we need to continue seeking new ways to further expand the competitiveness of North America.”

Locke, Clement and Ruiz each delivered keynote remarks at the North American Competitiveness, Innovation & Clean Energy Conference co-hosted by the Department of Commerce, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Trans-Border Institute of the University of San Diego, and the San Diego Dialogue of the University of California San Diego. The conference included panel discussions on energy security, a 21st century workforce, a low-carbon economy, supply chain integration, and infrastructure developments.

“The development of clean energy and energy efficient technologies could spur one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century; and it could put millions of people to work in high-skill, high-wage jobs,” Locke said in his remarks. “If the countries on this continent are not willing to grasp this opportunity, other countries around the world certainly are.”

While in San Diego, Locke also toured Solar Turbines Inc., a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., that manufactures industrial gas turbines. The company is one of the nation’s top exporters. Following his tour, Locke led an exports-focused roundtable discussion with local small business owners to highlight how the NEI will help California’s small- and medium-sized businesses increase their exports to new markets and create jobs in their communities.