Posted at 12:25 PM
Increasing U.S. exports is a top priority for President Obama and our entire Administration. With our support, America’s private sector made 2014 a fifth consecutive record year for exports, selling $2.34 trillion of goods and services to overseas markets. Exports also supported 11.7 million private sector jobs in 2014, an all-time high.
These achievements are no accident. They are the product of the hard work, perseverance, and commitment of the 300,000 U.S. businesses who understand that the markets for American products are no longer just around the corner, but across the globe. For example, by 2030, the Asia-Pacific region will be home to 3.2 billion middle class consumers.
No smart business owner would ignore such a massive potential customer base. The Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce want to ensure American companies can take advantage of these tremendous market opportunities.
One way to keep our businesses competitive, our economy growing, and our global economic leadership intact is through new, high-standard free trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
This agreement will secure fair access to the Asia-Pacific – the fastest-growing consumer base in the world – while raising standards on labor, environmental protection, intellectual property rights, and more. TPP will be the most progressive trade agreement in history and will strengthen the competitiveness of our businesses and our workers.
This deal will give American firms a leg up in the fiercely competitive global economy. The recently passed Trade Promotion Authority legislation outlines congressional priorities for the Administration to follow on new trade agreements like the TPP. The passage of trade promotion legislation is critical to the completion and implementation of deals that will strengthen our economy, level the playing field for our businesses and workers, and promote American competitiveness around the world.
However, trade promotion authority is just the beginning. Once negotiations on new trade deals are completed, our job is to bring the TPP and other new agreements to life.
To that end, we have more than 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers across the country ready to help American businesses with every step of the export process. Our staff can introduce firms to overseas buyers and distributors, as well as provide them with counseling and advocacy.
We also now have more than 170 foreign commercial service professionals located in the 11 TPP partner countries ready to provide American companies with on-the-ground assistance as they seek to successfully navigate exporting into new markets.
Since I took office, the Department of Commerce has led 11 trade missions to the TPP region. Personally, I have traveled to Japan, Vietnam, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, and Malaysia as Secretary of Commerce.
As part of our continued commitment to making trade and investment a bigger part of the DNA of U.S. businesses, we, at the Department of Commerce, will upgrade available market research on TPP countries.
We will enhance our industry-specific expertise to ensure companies have the data they need to compete.
We will improve existing tools and develop new applications so that businesses can plan ahead and incorporate the TPP into their export strategy.
And we will increase opportunities for U.S. companies to engage potential buyers and partners in the TPP markets at trade shows and other events.
In addition, one of our most important responsibilities at the Commerce Department is enforcing trade rules.
Our team systematically monitors, investigates, and ensures foreign governments’ compliance with more than 250 trade agreements to which the United States is a party. We work with exporters of all sizes to overcome barriers caused by foreign government policies that violate trade agreement obligations.
Working together with America’s vibrant private sector, I am confident we can keep America open for more growth, open for more progress, and open for more business.