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Remarks at Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Meeting

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Friday, October 23, 2009

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Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Meeting
Washington, D.C.

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Thank you all for joining me today at this, the first Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) meeting of the Obama administration.

We've got representatives from 20 agencies and departments of the federal government here today and we have a lot to discuss. But ultimately, we have one overriding goal: We need to establish trade promotion priorities that will result in more good jobs for Americans.

This is an essential piece of the administration’s efforts to jumpstart the economy. America already makes great stuff—now we just have to work at selling more of it around the world.

And I think Larry Summers’s attendance here today shows just how committed this administration is to expanding trade.

As many of you know, there has been an interagency discussion on trade promotion and possible initiatives government can take to boost exports.

Building on the insights and energy of our partner agencies, we need to use the coordinating committee—which was established by an order of Congress in 1992—to both widen this discussion and to serve as the primary mechanism for executing ddministration trade promotion priorities.

Exports are already a growing and substantial part of the U.S. economy. They account for almost 13 percent of our GDP, which is three times as much as 50 years ago.

And exports account for over six million manufacturing jobs alone.

Core American industries like aviation, machinery and electronic products depend on exports for anywhere from a quarter to over half their sales.

But we can do even better. With ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers living outside our borders, we have a golden opportunity to expand our export opportunities, which in turn will boost our economic growth and create new jobs.

The TPCC has been in existence for 17 years. But it has not been since the days of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown that America has had a strong, assertive and comprehensive government-wide plan for export promotion.

Virtually every federal department has a role to play, and I know all of our staffs have had in-depth discussions about the coordinating committee prior to today’s meeting.

I want to use these 90 minutes to reach agreement on introducing six working groups where there is tremendous potential for cooperation across agencies.

Each group will be co-chaired by one of the TPCC agencies and a representative from Commerce.

To understand where we want to go on exports, we need a roadmap to get there.

And a key part of that will be crunching all the data that is collected by Cabinet agencies to identify and study export sectors with high job creation potential.

Ambassador Kirk has already begun looking at how we can gain a better understanding of the impact of exports on small business.

We need to build on his initiative.

So, we have begun to put together an interagency senior economists coordinating committee Analysis and Data Working Group that I'd like to be co-chaired by Commerce’s Chief Economist Mark Doms and by a representative from USTR.

The group will develop a better understanding of the relationship of jobs and exports and of the export potential of U.S. industry.

Working group two, co-chaired by the Small Business Administration (SBA), will focus on increasing the participation of small- and medium-size businesses in exporting.

As you are aware, the SBA has the deepest access of the coordinating committee agencies to small businesses through its offices and those of its many business partners, such as the Small Business Development Centers.

We have 30 million companies in the United States, but less than one percent of them export—a percentage that is significantly lower than all other developed countries.

And of U.S. companies that do export, 58 percent export to only one country.

Think about what we could accomplish if the thousands of local business and economic development organizations across the country were all working to help match American businesses with opportunities abroad.

The TPCC can help make that happen.

Working groups three and four will address opportunities in emerging markets.

U.S. companies export to a wide range of countries, led by our NAFTA partners and Europe and Japan. Yet, in the evolving global marketplace, growth in demand continues to shift to emerging and developing countries.

As I mentioned earlier, 95 percent of the world's consumers are outside the United States.

Even with the world fighting through a historic recession in 2009, China is still growing at 8.9 percent and India is growing at 5.4 percent.

So, working group three, co-chaired with the Export-Import Bank, will be focused on developing outreach, major projects and trade missions to China and India, as well as Brazil.

These are three must-win markets for U.S. industry.

Export-Import has a major role to play in these and other emerging markets where vast opportunities are paired with fierce foreign competition and real concerns about risk.

A fourth working group, co-chaired by the State Department, will identify and coordinate our efforts in other developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America that could greatly benefit from market development assistance and engagement.

I think the Commerce/State cooperation is a natural fit here, because we need to incorporate both foreign policy and our foreign market development assistance programs to make this outreach work.

State has a unique understanding of how to engage developing countries and bring together the developmental resources of the federal government. I am very excited about the work of this group.

Working group five, co-chaired by the Energy Department, will focus on clean energy technology and services and other emerging engines of growth.

There is so much untapped engagement with U.S. industry in this area where the U.S. can be a technology leader. Energy can help us unlock that potential.

U.S. leadership in promoting clean energy internationally would enable our manufacturers to dramatically increase their exports, with gains of up to $40 billion in sales and 750,000 new jobs per year by 2020.

I know all agencies are already directing a lot of effort in this sector, but we need to bring our initiatives together to make sure U.S. businesses in this sector can export.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates over 80 percent of clean energy investments will take place outside the United States, and we’ve got to grab a big piece of that market share.

The TPCC next needs to move quickly to identify other industry sectors that can be engines of growth through exports as well.

Finally, we have working group number six, also co-chaired by State, which will focus on advocacy abroad, where we can address issues like foreign competitive practices and ensuring that U.S. companies get a fair shake when it comes to winning project bids.

Recently, we've seen that global investment in economic infrastructure is being driven by both other governments’ economic stimulus efforts and the economic advancement of many developing countries.

That is a huge opportunity for our companies, and we need to be sure they have a seat at the table. Again, U.S. ambassadors and the State Department are right there in the middle and on the ground in the development and delivery of advocacy support.

Of course, I could not begin to address in the time we have the value of multiple agencies in all areas—participation of Agriculture, the Treasury, and Transportation; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and many other agencies—that will be critical to the U.S. government’s success in unlocking U.S. export potential.

Think of these agencies and the tremendous tools and resources they represent.

This is exciting and important work. There is a great deal we can do together, boosting exports, speeding the economic recovery and contributing to American industries’ competitiveness and vitality.