U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Remarks at 2014 President’s “E” Awards Ceremony

May282014

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thank you, Acting Undersecretary Hyatt, and thanks to Arun and everyone in our International Trade Administration for their work to support thousands of American exporters each year, including those here today. I am thrilled to be with 65 dynamic firms and organizations that are driving U.S. competitiveness around the world while creating good jobs here at home.

This is the largest group of E Award winners in 32 years – which is appropriate because the United States just had its fourth straight record-breaking year – $2.3 trillion dollars in exports for 2013! Give yourselves a round of applause – you made that happen!

Since President Obama took office, creating an export-oriented business culture has been a major focus of the entire Administration. In 2010, the President launched the National Export Initiative – the NEI.  We started spreading the word that 95 percent of the world’s customers are outside our borders.

Over the past 4 years, the efforts under the NEI have paid off: nearly one-third of our economic growth since the recession has been driven by exports. Nearly 30,000 businesses have started exporting for the first time. And most importantly – since 2009 – the number of jobs supported by exports has grown by 1.6 million to more than 11.3 million – the highest in 20 years.

Earlier this month, I announced that we will broaden and deepen our efforts through the next phase of the NEI – called NEI NEXT. NEI NEXT is a data-based, customer service-driven initiative to ensure that even more firms can do what you are doing – fully capitalizing on markets that are opening up across the globe.

NEI NEXT is focused on five strategies:

  • We will help businesses find their NEXT customer abroad.
  • We will increase the efficiency of a company’s first and NEXT shipment.
  • We will help firms finance their NEXT order.
  • We will help communities integrate trade and investment into their NEXT growth plans.
  • And we will open up the NEXT big markets around the world for our companies while ensuring a level playing field.

We are already putting these strategies into action.  Three quick examples: We created more than 100 customized country and sector-specific guides that show where demand is highest for American-made goods in Latin America.  Under NEI NEXT, expect more of these tailored and targeted efforts to help firms like yours find the best markets abroad.

We are working to build a “single window” by 2016.  This will allow firms like yours to use just one electronic platform to complete the forms needed by dozens of federal agencies.  This will save both businesses and the federal government time and money.

We will increase the number of partners in the financial industry who offer federal export-financing tools, such as working-capital loans, loan guarantees, and insurance. I know that some of you have used these products to help you export. 

And I want to thank one of our winners today – Meridian Finance represented by President Gary Mendell – who is being recognized because of the work they do to provide these tools to firms around the country.  Congratulations, Gary!

At the same time that we roll out these NEI NEXT tools, the President and I will continue to call on Congress to create better conditions for you and your workers to compete and thrive.  For example, we need Congress to invest in infrastructure to fix and modernize the roads, bridges, ports, and airports that help your goods flow smoothly to their destination.  We can do better than the D+ grade that the United States received from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

In addition, Congress needs to ensure that our nation leads the way with trade agreements that reflect our values. For example, the Trans Pacific Partnership could boost our exports by $120 billion per year – while also providing better regulatory coherence, stronger IP protections, and commitments in areas like e-commerce, the environment, and state-owned enterprises.  We need Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority and we need to get this deal done.

Overall, we want to make trade a bigger part of the DNA of America’s private sector.

And today, I realize that I am preaching to the choir. For example – and speaking of DNA – we have a mother and a daughter here from Colorado who lead two different companies. Mary Jane Loevlie is the President of Shotcrete.  Her firm provides technologies that help with underground projects involving concrete – ranging from a major water project in Ecuador to Disney parks in Asia. Also with us today is Annelise Loevlie, her daughter.  She is the CEO of Icelantic Skis, which sells alpine skis to customers in 16 countries.  Let’s give them a round of applause.

Another example of trade running in the family is IMS Dredges. They export to many countries, including those in Africa where I just led a trade mission. For example, IMS sold six of its dredges to a Nigerian company to help with flood clean-up and mitigation efforts. From IMS, we have a father-son pair here today: President Jim Horton and his son Ryan – the global sales director.  Congratulations.

Clearly, there is strong demand for American-made goods of all kinds throughout the world. And while Commerce Department employees have helped many of the exporters here today, we can’t do it alone.

For that reason, I am pleased that we are also recognizing service providers like the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Notably, they are the first service provider to win a second E-Star award.  Congratulations to Kathe Falls the Division Director for International Trade who is here today.

Finally, I am pleased that we are recognizing the National Foreign Trade Council (an organization that I met with recently). They won an E Award back in 1962. I am thrilled that we are giving them an E Star award today – more than 50 years later.  Today also happens to be their 100th Anniversary Celebration! Congratulations to NFTC and their President Bill Reinsch, a former leader at the Commerce Department.

Clearly, every honoree in this room has fully embraced the fact that our world is smaller than ever.  Your next customer could be across the street, across the country, or across an ocean. I want to thank you for all of your efforts to drive innovation, strengthen America’s competiveness, create good jobs, and put our economy back on track. You are leading the way – and today my request is that you spread the word to others in your industries about how you have found success through exporting. We want to see E pennants flying everywhere in the years ahead.

As President Kennedy said when he signed the E-Award Executive Order in 1961, “More exports will mean a stronger America; a more prosperous America, and greater assurance of a free world.” That is the goal we all share. Thank you again for all that you do to bring the benefits of exporting to your companies, your workers, and our country.  You are showing the world that America is indeed open for business.

On behalf of the President, the Department of Commerce, and our federal partners here today, it is my privilege to congratulate each of you on winning our country’s most prestigious exporting awards!

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