U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Address at the 2016 President’s “E” and ”E-Star” Awards Ceremony


Monday, May 16, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today honored 123 U.S. companies and organizations that export goods and services overseas during the 2016 President’s “E” Awards ceremony. For the first time in the award’s 54-year history, winners represent every state and the District of Columbia. Of this year’s 123 honorees, 105 are small and medium-sized businesses, and 64 firms are manufacturers.

The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. In 1961, President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America's exporters. Today’s honorees — the largest group to ever receive this award — helped contribute to the United States’ exporting $2.23 trillion worth of goods and services in 2015, and the estimated 11.5 million American jobs supported by exports.

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Antwaun and the entire team at the International Trade Administration, for working every day to boost American exports and support American exporters.

On behalf of President Obama, the Commerce Department, and the entire Administration, congratulations to all of the recipients of the 2016 President’s “E”  and ”E-Star” Awards. Each of you has made significant contributions to not only U.S. exports, but to our country’s competitiveness and economic dynamism by creating good jobs for our people. I think that warrants a round of applause.

Our winners today are making E Award history. For the first-time since President Kennedy revived the E Awards 55 years ago, all 50 States and the District of Columbia are represented at the ceremony this year. Thanks in part to your success, over the last year, the United States increased goods exports to 58 international markets, and U.S. services exports tallied another record year.

Even in the face of headwinds, there is a continued demand for the world class goods and service that American businesses have to offer. Some of our winners today saw this in person last month at the Hannover Messe trade fair in Germany, where the United States served as the partner country for the first time. Hannover Messe is the premier showcase for industrial technology. Walking the show floor and seeing exhibits from companies from all over the world, one thing was clear: American products and services are truly the best of the best. There is a reason why Made in America goods are so in demand: no one can match our companies for their ingenuity, for their consistency, and for their commitment to innovation.

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 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 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 – are part of your success in expanding into new global markets.

Like many of you, Geoff Bergman of CAP Worldwide, a Colorado-based freight forwarder and logistics company, has taken advantage of this expertise. In his case, however, the advice came directly from his father, Paul Bergman, a long-time Commerce employee and director of our Colorado U.S. Export Assistance Center. Geoff and Paul, it is great to have both of you with us today.

Craig Carson, President and CEO of Jeco Plastic Products, has also taken advantage of the Commerce Department’s services. The majority of the company’s business comes from overseas.  Craig, who is a West Point graduate and commanded an airborne infantry company in combat in Vietnam, has been working with our Indianapolis Commercial Service office since 1999.

Today, we honor companies like Simms Fishing Products – the first ever Montana company to receive an E-Award.   From Louisiana, we are very pleased to welcome Bob Wetta, president and CEO of DSC Dredge, which has customers in more than 40 countries world-wide. DSC Dredge is only the third company in the program’s history to receive a second E-Star Award.   

We also have with us today service organizations like the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. At a time when most of the news coming out of the Middle East and North Africa has been negative, the Chamber is a champion for some of the most positive developments in the Arab world, namely a strong demand for U.S. exports and a surge in entrepreneurship.

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 ability to continue to create jobs.

Every day, 11.5 million people wake up in America and go to jobs supported by exports.

Like you, our Administration understands how important trade is to our economy and our workers, which is why we are so committed to strong, high-standard trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

TPP preserves America’s continued global leadership and ensures that we write the rules for commerce and trade in the fastest growing region in the world, not China. It eliminates 18,000 tariffs, strengthens supply chains across the Asia-Pacific, levels the playing field, and creates customers for businesses like our E Award winners. President Obama and this Administration are hard at work making the business case for TPP to the American people.

At the same time, we are not ignoring the heated rhetoric that suggests trade has hurt American workers. This Administration understands that our workforce will be impacted as the global economy accelerates and our businesses adopt the latest technologies. We are focused on making sure that workforce training efforts also match the pace of change in the economy.

Ultimately, the best argument in favor of trade come from all of you, the human face of our trade agenda, job creators who understand the real value of trade and exports for our communities and our workers. Your companies are among the thousands that employ millions across this country due to expanded markets and trade.

If we are going to cross the finish line on TPP, we need you as our partners, making the case for trade in your communities, in your states, and nationwide. I urge you today to reach out to your employees, your friends, your family, your neighbors, and make your voices heard. Tell them how TPP will grow your businesses and how that will translate into more jobs for your workers, more customers for your companies, and more growth for our economy.

Each of the companies represented here today has an amazing story to tell about using exports to extend your reach and your bottom line, hire more workers, and become pillars of your communities.

Congratulations again 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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