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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Meeting of the Trade Finance Advisory Council


Thank you, Paul, for that kind introduction.

Welcome to the members of the Trade Finance Advisory Council, our interagency colleagues, and members of the public who are with us this afternoon.

It’s a pleasure to join you all again, and I’m honored to have now attended two out of the three Council meetings this term.

At the Commerce Department, we have one overarching goal: to improve America’s competitiveness so that our workers and companies succeed in the global economy.

I know all of you have been hard at work crafting recommendations that will help the Department meet that goal.

At the last Council meeting in December, you adopted a set of eight recommendations.

Your recommendations were warmly received, and Secretary Raimondo and I would like to thank you all for the time, effort, and commitment that we know went into creating them.

The recommendations run the gamut of trade finance issues facing U.S. exporters and have given us much to think about as we work to make access to trade finance easier and more equitable.

Our approach to implementation is to identify areas of collaboration and cooperation with both public and private sector stakeholders whenever possible to ensure the recommendations receive the buy-in they need for long-term success and sustainability.

For some recommendations, we are engaging with interagency colleagues to identify next steps for implementation.

For other recommendations, we are consulting with industry associations and private sector partners to identify the most feasible, effective, and realistic avenues for implementation.

We are also moving forward on the recommendations that fall within the purview of the Department itself.

For example, we are looking at implementing components of the Inclusive Growth Subcommittees recommendations through vehicles like the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee and the Environmental, Social, and Governance Investment Initiative.

Similarly, we are considering how we may be able to implement the Supply Chain Finance Subcommittee recommendation through U.S. Export Assistance Centers.

So let me thank you again for your work to craft the recommendations. I’m looking forward to participating in the Department’s efforts to implement them.

As you continue your excellent work through the remainder of this term, I’d like to take a moment to make note of several key Departmental priorities to help guide your deliberations and work over the next several months.

The first is Build Back Better World, also known as B3W.

The U.S. and our international partners have a long history of providing high-quality financing and technical support for infrastructure projects around the world.

However, the lack of a comprehensive approach for coordinating infrastructure investments with like-minded partners often leads to inefficiencies and missed opportunities to deliver at scale.

B3W is aiming to provide a better option for infrastructure financing to help meet the significant needs of lower- and middle-income countries in response to the climate crisis, digital and gender divides, and health security challenges.

We hope to build a pipeline of transformational projects that reflect the B3W approach, which relies on transparency, inclusion, and high quality-high standards.

In 2022, key objectives for our B3W engagements include:

  • Identifying, developing, and funding transformational projects in B3W priority areas.
  • Mobilizing private, International Finance Institutions, and other public financing for B3W priority sectors, including via innovative funding mechanisms.
  • Building habits of cooperation between U.S. development finance and assistance agencies and foreign counterparts.
  • Leveraging G7 and like-minded partner relationships to advance B3W objectives.
  • Advancing high standards in infrastructure development.

B3W’s success will require a comprehensive approach that coordinates and directs bilateral and multilateral financing and technical assistance and uses different instruments to crowd-in private capital.

In addition, given the TFAC’s work on Supply Chain finance, I’d like to give you an update on our supply chain efforts.    

The Commerce Department participates in the interagency committees set up under President Biden’s “America’s Supply Chain” Executive Order to help understand the impacts that the pandemic has had on our supply chains, and to identify solutions to strengthen our supply chains and infrastructure against future crises.

That Executive Order launched a comprehensive review of U.S. supply chains, including 100-day reviews of four key products:  semiconductors; critical minerals and materials; pharmaceuticals and their key ingredients; and advanced batteries. All the reviews have been completed. 

In February, federal agencies published six additional reports, which are available on the White House’s website. They cover transportation, public health and biological preparedness, energy, information and communications technology, defense, and agriculture and food production.

The Commerce Department led or contributed to these reports.

Secretary Raimondo also co-leads President Biden’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and is working closely with our partner agencies to develop action-oriented policies to alleviate port and supply chain congestion in the near-term, and long-term policies to make our supply chain infrastructure resilient to future crises.

I know that you will propose a new set of recommendations here today and there is only one additional meeting remaining during this charter term.

I encourage you to consider B3W and U.S. supply chains as you continue working to develop a final set of recommendations before the summer meeting.

I’ll close by reiterating what I said in the beginning: the time, effort, and hard work you put into your roles as Council members make a huge difference to Secretary Raimondo, me, and the entire Commerce Department. 

I can’t emphasize enough how much we value your input and appreciate your contributions. Your experience and expertise matter.

I’m excited to see the recommendations that come out of today’s meeting, and all that you accomplish during the remainder of this term. I look forward to staying engaged with the Council and its work.

With that, I’ll turn it over to the Council Chair, Kevin Klowden.