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Remarks at U.S. Department of Commerce/UPS Partnership Event, Doralville, Georgia

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Friday, February 19, 2010

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Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at U.S. Department of Commerce/UPS Partnership Event
Doraville, Georgia

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Thank you, Scott, for that kind introduction.

Before coming up here, I had the opportunity to take a stroll through this facility and see one of the world's great hubs of commerce in action.

This is the type of stuff I never get tired of seeing.

When you witness all those packages whizzing along on the conveyor belt, and the efficiency and the pride that the people here take in their work, you see American business at its finest.

And it provides hope that despite the economic challenges America faces, we’re going to get through it, just like we always have.

There is still no other country in the world with so many private companies this innovative and this vibrant, and it’s gratifying to bring the resources of the Commerce Department to bear to help them.

As Scott said in his remarks, UPS has a long-standing partnership with the Commerce Department's Foreign and Commercial Service.

Together, we’ve helped thousands of American companies expand their share in existing markets and break into new ones. I think our cooperation stands out as a premier example of public-private partnerships done right.

And today marks a strengthening of that partnership.

Scott mentioned that in the coming weeks, UPS is going to help Commerce identify small- and medium-size businesses that currently export to only one country, and suggest new market opportunities for them.

Now, some of you might be wondering why we've chosen to focus our efforts on this particular subset of companies.

And the simple answer is that’s where we can have the most impact.

Today, less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies 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.

Many small- and medium-size businesses don't export, or export less than they should, because they simply don't have the resources to identify promising new markets or the necessary contacts in foreign countries.

The Commerce Department, with its network of trade specialists posted in 109 U.S. cities and at 128 U.S. embassies and consulates in 77 countries; and UPS with its global reach; can be a significant resource for these companies. And this partnership between Commerce and UPS fits right into a much larger export agenda being pursued by the Obama Administration.

A few weeks ago in Washington, I announced details of the president’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double American exports over the next five years and support 2 million jobs here at home.

There have, of course, been previous endeavors by the government to elevate the importance of exports. But what sets this effort apart is that this is the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his cabinet.

This initiative was designed with one overriding goal in mind: to get people back to work in jobs that provide security, dignity and sense of hope for the future.

And the NEI will help correct an economic blind spot that has cost us jobs and allowed other countries to chip away at America’s international competitiveness.

Because for all of America's economic strengths, we stand out among developed nations as one of the few whose government does not have a focused, comprehensive, and agile export strategy.

At a time when traditional drivers of U.S. economic growth like consumer and business spending are strained, we simply must elevate exports as a key part of our economic recovery efforts.

That’s exactly what the NEI does, and I just want to take a few moments to explain how.

First, the NEI is going to provide more funding for export promotion and more coordination between government agencies.

Second, the NEI will ensure that commercial advocacy objectives get government-wide support and that we do a more effective job of advocating for U.S. products in our interactions with foreign businesses, farmers and officials.

And finally, the Initiative will create an Export Promotion Cabinet reporting to the president that will consist of top leaders from the Commerce, Treasury and State Departments, the Department of Agriculture, the Export-Import Bank, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Small Business Administration.

To put it another way: Prior to the NEI, export promotion may have been a “some-of-the-time” focus for many U.S. cabinet agencies and departments. The NEI makes it an “all-the-time focus.”

The NEI’s mandate is broad, and it involves addressing key issues that affect the ability of U.S. businesses to export.

But we’re fundamentally focused on three key areas:

Number one is a more robust effort by this administration to expand its trade advocacy in all its forms. That means:

  • Educating U.S. companies about opportunities overseas,
  • Directly connecting them with new customers, and
  • Advocating more forcefully for their interests in contracting processes that are increasingly being influenced by political factors.

It is in this area where partners like UPS will be most helpful.

Number two is improving access to credit in the wake of the financial crisis, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses that want to export.

In particular, the president has called upon the Export-Import Bank--which enables critical financing when private banks are unwilling or unable—to increase its financing available for small- and medium-size businesses from $4 billion to $6 billion over the next year.

And number three is continuing the rigorous enforcement of international trade laws to help remove barriers that prevent U.S. companies from getting open and fair access to foreign markets.

That includes enforcing our trade laws, combating unfair tariff and non-tariff barriers, and cracking down on practices that blatantly harm U.S. companies, like the theft of our intellectual property.

These are the broad strokes of the National Export Initiative.

For those small companies here today that are interested in taking advantage of some of the new opportunities under the NEI, I encourage you to speak with our U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. They have trade specialists at U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEAC) located throughout the country.

In fact, George Tracy and Amy Ryan from our Atlanta branch are here today, and they’d be happy to speak with you.

USEAC are here today. You can also get help by calling our Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA TRADE or by visiting Export.gov.

Being here in Atlanta, I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention another big export-related event we've got coming up. From November 14-16, Atlanta will be hosting the Fourth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF).

This event brings together private sector and government leaders to discuss ways to increase prosperity in the hemisphere. It is the preeminent event of its kind, and UPS has been a valued participant and sponsor in years past. I hope many of you here today will get to participate in the forum.

Before I came up here to speak, you heard from Andrew Sherwood, a guy who clearly knows something about exporting.

He’s been a longtime partner of the Commerce Department, and is currently the chairman of the North Georgia District Export Council.

And Andrew’s company, Micrometrics, has sold its products to every continent in the world, including Antarctica!

Three quarters of its sales come from exports and it supports 200 good jobs in Norcross.

Globally focused enterprises like Andrew’s are going to be a big part of getting the American economy on its feet again.

And as long as America has got companies like Micrometrics able to continuously innovate and create, and logistical problem-solvers like UPS to deliver its products to markets around the world, we’re going to be fine.

Thank you all for coming out today.