Remarks from U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at the 53rd Anniversary of the President's "E" Awards Ceremony


Monday, May 18, 2015

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered remarks at the 2015 President’s “E” Awards ceremony, which honored 45 American companies and organizations for their significant contributions to the expansion of U.S. exports. This is the 53rd anniversary of the “E” Awards, which was originally created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to recognize persons, firms, and organizations that significantly contribute to increasing U.S. exports.

With 96 percent of the world’s consumers living beyond U.S. borders, “E” Award recipients recognize the importance of exports to their bottom line and the U.S. economy. To create new opportunities for American companies to sell their goods and services overseas, President Obama has put forward an aggressive free trade agenda that will secure access to fast-growing markets while raising standards on labor, the environment, intellectual property rights, and more. The “E” Awards align with President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), now NEI/NEXT, a strategy that will continue supporting millions of U.S. jobs by helping more American companies reach more overseas markets.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Arun and the entire team at the International Trade Administration, for your support of thousands of American exporters every day throughout the year. On behalf of President Obama, the Commerce Department, and the entire Administration, congratulations to all of the recipients of the President’s “E”  and ”E-Star” Awards.

It is a real pleasure to be here to honor all of you: our 2015 awardees have made significant contributions to U.S. exports, which are critical to America’s economic dynamism and leadership.

When President Kennedy signed the executive order reviving the E Awards in 1961, he stated, “more exports will mean a stronger America…and greater assurance of a free world.”

Today, more than a half-century later, strengthening our economy and solidifying our country’s global economic leadership are the driving forces behind President Obama’s focus on trade and exports.

The collective effort between the private sector and our Administration has yielded tremendous results: 2014 was another record year for exports – totaling $2.35 trillion; today’s 45 honorees also contributed over $2 billion in export revenue last year; and most importantly, exports support 11.7 million private sector jobs – an all-time high. You made these numbers happen. You make these statistics come alive each day in the form of new products shipped around the world and new employees hired here at home. Your work is absolutely vital to our economy.

Today’s E Awards are not only about exports and job growth, but about stories of people like the Sinunu family. When Campbell Soup won one of the first E Awards in 1962, Jack Sinunu led the company’s export sales. More than 40 years later, Jack’s nephew, Charlie, was the director of international sales at DSC Dredge when that firm won both an E Award and an E-Star Award. Today, Charlie’s brother, Steve Sinunu, President and CEO of EnvironX Solutions, a manufacturer in Colleyville, Texas, is an E Award recipient as well. I am thrilled that Steve, Charlie, and Jack – who is 91 – are all here today. Please give them a big round of applause.

The Sinunus are not the only business leaders here with multiple generations of award winners. We are also proud to honor Vac Pac, a family-owned business in Baltimore, led by Hessa and Matt Tary. Their company first won the E Award in 1966 – and their E Star recognition 50 years later is a reflection of their consistent contributions to U.S. export growth.

Today, we also honor household names like Harley Davidson, which has exported their iconic motorcycles for over a century.

We recognize a truly global company like Tuleu Consulting, a distributor of John Deere equipment, whose entire customer base is overseas.

We have Thorton Academy, the first non-college education exporter to receive an E Award and the first winner from Maine in 32 years.

And we have a favorite from my hometown of Chicago, Garretts Popcorn. On a personal note, I exported Garretts Popcorn to the Commerce Department during my first week in office to use as an ice breaker with my new staff.

The success of all of you in this room is a reminder that there are markets all over the world for U.S.-made goods and services.

And the Commerce Department is your partner in identifying and engaging with new customers.

Our U.S. Export Assistance Center teams can work with your businesses find the best markets for your products; develop and implement effective strategies to enter those markets; and provide assistance in securing trade finance available through local, state, federal and private sector programs.

Our Foreign Commercial Service members are experts in different markets across the globe, and they can facilitate meetings with partners overseas, guide you through local regulations in your target markets, and provide you with market research. Our staff – at our Export Assistance Centers and in embassies and consulates around the world – can be part of your success in expanding into new global markets.

In addition, we are pleased to partner with an outstanding group of private sector service providers, including awardees with us today, such as:

  • Allocca Enterprises of York, South Carolina, an international trade consultant specializing in compliance and licensing;
  • Echo International of Pittsburgh, an innovative company providing corporate language services; and
  • The Corporate Council on Africa of Washington, D.C., which supports expanded trade in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.                                                           

Every awardee in this room and the 300,000 U.S. businesses that export understand that 96 percent of the world’s customers live beyond our borders. Today, there are 570 million middle class consumers living in the Asia Pacific region; by 2030, that number is expected to reach 3.2 billion. No smart business would ignore that much opportunity. You also know that these markets are critical to your bottom line and to your ability to continue to create American jobs. Our Administration gets it as well, which is why we are so committed to a robust trade agenda and to strong, high-standard trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This agreement will secure fair access to the fastest-growing consumer base in the world, while raising standards on labor, environmental protection, intellectual property rights, and more. This will be the most progressive trade agreement in history; will strengthen the competitiveness of our businesses; and will deepen the economic bonds that tie the United States to nations across the Asia Pacific.

This trade deal is about increasing opportunities for your companies. And today is about you – about how your commitment to exports will, as President Kennedy believed, mean a stronger America and greater assurance of a free world. Congratulations to all of the recipients of this year’s E and E-Star Awards. Thank you for showing the world that America is, and will remain, open for business.

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Last updated: 2015-05-18 14:11

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