U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Remarks at Meeting of President's Export Council


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered opening remarks at the meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC) at the White House. This was the last Council meeting that will take place during the Obama Administration. The PEC, which consists of 48 government and private-sector leaders, serves as the principal national advisory committee to the President on international trade.

Secretary Pritzker thanked Council members for their work to help strengthen the American economy and create jobs here in the United States. She outlined the critical role of the PEC with respect to many of the Administration’s accomplishments on international trade, including the passage of Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance, creating a more transparent and efficient export control system, finalizing new free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, and creating the 2016 National Export Strategy that will be released later this month. Secretary Pritzker also reaffirmed the Obama Administration's commitment to securing passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Finally, Secretary Pritzker raised another Administration priority that affects businesses of all sizes – the ICANN transition. The Secretary emphasized that any effort by Congress to derail the privatization of the domain name system would make it harder for exporters to reach their customers and do business online. Secretary Pritzker urged U.S. industry to speak out in support of the upcoming transition. 

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Ursula, for your kind introduction and for your leadership as Chair of the President’s Export Council. Ursula, you have served as a committed and valued member of the President’s Obama’s Export Council since the beginning. You were by our side on the President’s historic trip to Cuba earlier this year, and you helped lead our fact finding mission to Poland and Turkey in September 2014. Thank you for your service.                                               

I would also like to thank each of you for your time, hard work, and dedication as members of this council. You are indispensable partners in our efforts to strengthen the American economy and support higher-paying jobs here at home.                                                            

Since President Obama made his first PEC appointments in 2010, this group has met 14 times and conveyed a staggering 60 letters of recommendation. Your work has guided many of this Administration’s most significant accomplishments on international trade, including:

  • Securing the passage of Trade Promotion Authority, as well as extending and improving Trade Adjustment Assistance;
  • Creating a more transparent and efficient export control system;
  • Finalizing new trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama; and
  • Creating the 2016 National Export Strategy, which will be released later this month and aims to increase access to trade resources and provide greater assistance to exporters of all sizes.

Simply put: Each of you has played an important role in keeping America open for more growth, open for more progress, and open for more business.

Let me be clear: we are not done yet.

President Obama and this Administration are laser-focused on expanding market access for American companies. That is why we are fully committed to securing approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In today’s fiercely competitive global economy, we cannot retreat into isolationism. Instead, we must fight for tougher trade agreements like the TPP in order to set global rules that reflect U.S. interests and values.

Through this trade agreement, we have a chance to secure our influence in the Asia-Pacific, the fastest growing region in the world, and ensure our businesses can compete on a level playing field.

This is a time for American leadership. TPP represents our best opportunity to shape the rules of global commerce in the 21st century, and its enactment and implementation will advance our geopolitical, economic, and national security interests in the region.

As all of you know, I am an optimist. And I firmly believe that, with your help, we can make passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership the crowning achievement of this Administration’s trade agenda. Thank you for your strong letter of support for the TPP and continued vocal support as we push this agreement across the finish line.

Today, I want to address another top priority for this Administration: the upcoming privatization of the Internet Domain Name System. I know it is a bit unorthodox for me to raise an issue that is not a PEC priority, but this transition is simply too important.

For 18 years, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – or ICANN – has managed the Domain Name System with great success and with little oversight by the Commerce Department. Under this “multistakeholder approach,” Internet stakeholders have driven DNS standards and policies, and the Internet has flourished worldwide.

But in recent years, Russia, China, and other nations that censor content and limit free expression have voiced support for putting the United Nations in charge. We must not let that happen.

Shifting control to the UN – or any intergovernmental body – would leave the Internet vulnerable to geopolitical disputes and endless bureaucratic delays.  It would also chill innovation while making it harder for exporters to reach their customers and do business online – so it’s not just bad policy. It is bad for business.

In 2014, the Obama Administration tasked stakeholders with creating a plan to transition our stewardship role, strengthen multistakeholder governance, protect the stability and security of the DNS, and maintain the openness of the Internet.

That transition is set to begin on October 1. And any effort by Congress to derail the privatization of the DNS would embolden those who seek greater government control of the Internet. I wanted to ensure that you are aware of this important issue and of our call to U.S. industry to speak out in support of the upcoming transition to ensure that the Internet remains free and open. Your voice can make a difference on the issue, just as it did with Trade Promotion Authority, export control reform, and more. 

Over the last six years, this Council has left a measurable impact on our nation. You made our country more competitive. You helped expand exports for American businesses. And for the last three years, you have been an invaluable advisor to me and my team as we serve as the voice of business in the U.S. government.

On behalf of President Obama, thank you for your service.  Thank you for your role in guiding our country’s economic policy. Thank you for keeping America open for business.

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