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Remarks at Cardinal Health, National Export Initiative Rollout Event, Dublin, Ohio

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Monday, March 22, 2010

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Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at Cardinal Health, National Export Initiative Rollout Event
Dublin, Ohio

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Thank you all for coming out today. I just want to begin by addressing the tremendous development we saw in the House of Representatives last night.

We have finally won a hard-fought battle to pass comprehensive health care legislation that will expand access, bring down costs and give Americans the security that if they lose or change jobs, they can count on affordable coverage, regardless of their health status.

This is a quantum leap forward for the American people and for the American economy.

It's going to provide security and affordability for consumers. It's going to bring down costs for individuals, families, businesses and the government.

And on the heels of this achievement, it is great to be here at Cardinal Health to talk about another forward-looking policy that's going to be a great driver of job creation in Ohio.

And I’d like to thank some leaders of our regional export assistance centers for joining us. Mike Miller, our Regional Network Director and Roberta Ford, director of our Columbus office; thank you for being here today.

A few weeks ago, the president signed an executive order instructing the federal government to use every available federal resource in support of the initiative's goal of doubling American exports over the next five years and supporting two million jobs.

The National Export Initiative (NEI) 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.

Under the NEI, there is going to be more credit available for exporters, more government trade promotion and a sharper focus on knocking down the barriers that prevent U.S. companies from getting free and open access to foreign markets.

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.”

We’re going to have Agriculture Department employees in Iowa educating farmers about export opportunities in Europe and Commerce Department trade specialists pounding the pavement in Beijing to find new customers for U.S. businesses.

The NEI is going to provide even more resources and focus on the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (or ITA)—which has a global network of trade specialists posted in 109 U.S. cities and at 128 U.S. embassies and consulates in 77 countries.

As part of the NEI, the president’s 2011 Budget is requesting a 20-percent increase for ITA—totaling $78 million.

With that, ITA plans to bring on as many as 328 trade experts—mostly in foreign countries—to advocate and find customers for U.S. companies, allowing its Commercial Service to assist more than 23,000 clients to begin or grow their export sales in 2011.

The NEI will allow ITA to:

  • Put a special focus on increasing the number of small- and medium-sized businesses exporting to more than one market by 50 percent over the next five years;
  • Increase their presence in emerging high-growth markets like China, India and Brazil;
  • And to develop a comprehensive strategy to identify market opportunities in fast-growing sectors like environmental goods and services, renewable energy, healthcare and biotechnology.

Ohio businesses that want to take advantage of these new services don’t have to look far. They can just visit Commerce’s regional export assistance centers throughout the state, which have already written plenty of export success stories.

Take for instance Snow Dragon LLC, a manufacturer of snow removal equipment based in Cleveland. Recently, they contacted their local export assistance office to restructure their approach to the Canadian market. By using our international partner search service, Snow Dragon was able to quickly identify a viable Canadian distributor. This new partnership immediately yielded a sale of $195,000 and went on to produce over $1.4 million in annual sales. Snow Dragon now has 46 distributors throughout the world.

Or look at Global Recovery Group LLC, which provides international recovery services for private sector commercial debt. Global Recovery has frequently ordered proprietary research from our Columbus export assistance center to help them gather information on defaulted debtors across the globe.

In one recent case, our Columbus office provided research that helped Global Recovery Group collect $1.5 million dollars from a Philippine company that had defaulted on a loan from the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The Columbus office has provided similar assistance to Global Recovery Group in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and on multiple occasions in the Philippines.

The Commerce Department and our Foreign Commercial Service are good at what we do. And we want more businesses to take advantage of what we've got to offer.

With traditional drivers of U.S. economic growth like consumer and business spending facing stiff headwinds, it has never been more important for our companies to increase their sales to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside the United States.

For much of this last decade, America’s economic growth was built on a speculative mania that enriched a select few while leaving many Americans out in the cold.

Since 2000, most families have seen their wages stagnate or decline, while the necessities of life like health care and tuition skyrocketed.

The National Export Initiative will help build a stronger economic foundation and allow us to return to the type of sustainable growth that not long ago helped build the strongest middle class in history.

From the advent of the phone, to the automobile to new drug therapies and the Internet, America’s strength has always been our people’s ability to create and sell products and services that help others around the world lead healthier, wealthier and more productive lives.

That’s what we've got to get back to: creating, building and innovating. That is what this country is all about.

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

Partly as a result, only one percent of American companies export. Of those companies that do, 58 percent only send their goods and services to one market.

With the NEI, American businesses that want to export—especially small- and medium-size enterprises—are going to have a more vigorous partner in the U.S. government.

As I said earlier, this National Export Initiative drives ambitious goals: a doubling of exports in five years supporting two million jobs.

It's an aggressive goal, but these challenging times demand nothing less.

With millions of Americans out of work, and our competitors in Europe and Asia increasingly chasing the same business opportunities that we are, we don't have the luxury to be passive.

There has never been any question that American companies make goods and services that are desired all over the world.

The federal government just has to do a better job connecting the foreign consumers that want our stuff with the US companies who make it.

The National Export Initiative will do exactly that.