Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General Suresh Kumar
U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service
New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
New York, New York
As prepared for delivery
Thank you very much for your introduction, Jim. Thank you to the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies for hosting me here today. I also want to acknowledge Joe Schoonmaker and the New York District Export Council Members for their continued support.
As President Obama said in the State of the Union address last month, “To win the future, we need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” We must work together to create opportunities that encourage innovation and spur growth. We must produce innovative products and technologies and connect our exporters with buyers, while recognizing that growing U.S. exports is not only good for the U.S. economy but also for our trading partners.
Education and innovation are at the forefront of the Obama Administration’s short and long term economic strategy for winning the future. They serve as a catalyst to enhance our competitiveness, create sustainable jobs and builds a stronger America while providing superior technologies, products and services to consumers across the world.
By investing in emerging technologies and encouraging innovation, we help create new market sectors like renewable energy. Later you will hear from Wind Products, Inc. The success of their business shows that an investment in energy efficiency is an investment in job creation, energy independence, budget and cost savings, and will help all Americans “win the future” in the increasingly energy-efficient economy of tomorrow.
Through education programs we are developing skills that will help sustain innovation and build a competitive advantage. And through commercialization initiatives such as the National Export Initiative, we help companies expand their global footprint to reach more customers worldwide, reach more customers worldwide and enhance our competitiveness while creating greater sustainable employment.
As Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, I lead a team of 1,500 trade professionals in 109 offices across the U.S. and 127 cities in 79 countries. The Commercial Service is a key implementing agency of the President’s National Export Initiative and is committed to enhancing U.S. competitiveness. Last year, we helped nearly 5,600 companies increase their exports and 85 percent of those were small and medium-sized businesses.
America is at its best when it is inventive. This is exactly what “Winning the Future” calls for: We invented the motor car, the airplane, the computer and through public-private partnerships even the internet and the GPS. Winning in the sectors of the future requires policy mechanisms that reduce risk, and provide greater predictability, through influencing a common set of rules, standards, and incentives.
When we have innovated we have prevailed. And that is why this Administration places so much emphasis on innovation, on building and owning the markets of tomorrow even as we vigorously compete for market share in today’s markets. American products improve lives and livelihoods globally and because of our inventiveness, consumers around the world value a cache of “Made in the USA” more than one made elsewhere.
Private sector employers driven by small and medium-sized companies have added jobs for twelve straight months. But unemployment remains unacceptably high and facilitating exports is a way of creating more employment.
To spark innovation and creativity of our businesses, it is critical that we make the investments necessary to stay competitive in the 21st century and simultaneously assist America’s companies to export our products and services to the 95% of consumers who live outside our borders.
Winning the future requires increasing investment in research and development. The President signed into law in December a tax bill that allows American business to write off all the R&D investment they do in 2011. The President has a proposal to expand, simplify, and permanently extend the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit in order to help companies create good jobs in America today and increase productivity and growth in the future. The Obama Administration has made a substantial commitment to innovation by setting the goal of investing a full three percent of our GDP into research and development. Nowhere is this more important than with small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up 97% of all firms in the United States.
A larger focus for U.S. businesses must be: to reinvent what we make, consume, market and sell. Government must reinvent its support, focusing on self-sufficiency, sustainability and innovation. An example of such reinvention came last year when the Administration brought together businesses, entrepreneurs, CEOs, regulators and representatives of foreign governments along with NIST to influence the development of common standards for SMART grid and ancillary products and services.
Public-private collaborations led to the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which was created to finance breakthrough clean energy technologies, and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) new program called Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) that supports researchers who have made an important fundamental advance in science and engineering but who require additional funding to help commercialize their research. Through these and other programs, the federal government is acting as a partner in innovation, encouraging competition among ideas for grant monies helping commercialize university research, creating jobs, and preparing students to become successful entrepreneurs while reducing risk that industry is not likely to undertake.
Hand-in-hand with innovation through R&D and investment in infrastructure from high speed rail systems to high speed internet, the Administration has a targeted focus on creating and funding sustainable solutions for the future that lead the global marketplace.
Our global leadership is dependent on how we educate our students today. The President’s visit on Friday to Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, Oregon, highlighted the importance of investing in education. New jobs in advancing fields will require higher education, and investments and programs like Intel’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education program will ensure that the next generation is prepared with the skills they need to succeed and that America is well-positioned to win the future.
The President has laid out a plan to prepare 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math –skills that will prepare students for the jobs of the 21st century. Under his plan, teacher preparation models that prove effective will be further expanded to help train more teachers and top STEM graduates will be prepared for teaching careers of their own.
You can see this right here at NYU. From the School of Continuing and Professional Studies which brings the business community right to the classroom to NYU Poly’s Varick Street Incubator, America’s future starts here.
The Administration’s focus on innovation, education and commercialization, along with an emphasis on infrastructure, and sustainability reflects market-driven, competitive approaches that make sure that the United States is the best place to do business and to innovate.
Leveraging this strategy requires creating deep market linkages and connecting innovation to the marketplace. This is the core of the NEI — connecting American innovation and our innovative products and services with consumers worldwide. Last year alone six of the 39 trade missions and certified trade missions were in the areas of renewable energy; ten of these 39 were to fast growing emerging markets of Brazil, India, and China. Our green export successes represented 30 percent of the exports we facilitated.
The Administration recognizes that increasing global trade provides opportunities for growing America’s SMEs. Exporting must play a larger role in the U.S.’s economic prosperity. The pre-crisis drivers of U.S. economic growth - domestic consumer and business spending - can no longer be the only levers of an emerging and even more globally connected marketplace. Those who seek access to U.S. markets must also remove barriers to trade and open their markets to U.S. products. This is where the KORUS Trade Agreement will be a boon: it will create 70,000 additional jobs here in the USA.
To win the future, U.S. businesses must expand their global reach to new markets. As part of the strategy to ensure that the U.S. economy is more competitive, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative.
To accomplish the President’s goal to double exports by 2015, the Federal Government is utilizing all the resources of the export promotion agencies to help connect U.S. businesses with global consumers and market opportunities. Less than 1 percent of America’s 30 million companies export, and of those companies that do export, 58 percent export to only one country. Clearly we can, and must, do more to ensure that U.S. businesses capture the full potential of economic opportunities that exist internationally. The NEI is off to a great start. Exports are up about 17 percent compared to where they were a year ago – in New York, exports topped $67 billion in 2010. Renewable energy exports reached more than $2 billion in 2009, growing by over 30% between 2007 and 2008, and by almost another 25% between 2009 and 2010.
Today, exports support nearly 10 million jobs in America, including almost 7 million manufacturing jobs. Exports as a percentage of our GDP were 12.5 percent in 2010, but lags behind countries like Germany where exports account for 40 percent, or Canada at 30 percent or even China where 25 percent of GDP comes from exports. Doubling U.S. exports is not only possible but necessary if we are to stay globally competitive and secure our economic future.
The Obama Administration’s vision to rebuild our economy focuses on innovation and competition; sustainability; education; and international engagement. Innovation and exporting are inextricably linked; they ARE the drivers for sustainable American economic growth. I look forward to our continued collaboration with schools such as NYU to substantially scale up our engagement in educating our future innovators, encouraging innovators to become entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs to export: This is how we improve lives and livelihoods in the U.S. and worldwide.
Thank you for having me here today.
The International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, manages this global trade site to provide access to ITA information on promoting trade and investment, strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein. This site contains PDF documents. A PDF reader is available from Adobe Systems Incorporated.