Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
U.S. Conferece of Mayors
80th Annual Meeting
“Growing Exports to Create City/Metro Jobs”
Thursday, June 14, 2012
As prepared for delivery
Thank you, Mayor Brown, for that kind introduction.
And more importantly, thank you for your great contributions to Jacksonville, to this organization, and to the Metro Exports and Ports Task Force.
I’d also like to extend my deep appreciation to Mayor Villaraigosa for his tremendous leadership.
Allow me to also recognize my fellow panelists: Mayor Rybak, Mayor Plusquellic, and Sven Hackmann from Siemens.
Finally, I want to thank all of you with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
In a time full of great challenges, the members of this organization are doing outstanding work in communities across the country.
And, it’s a pleasure to be with you today to talk about building stronger cities and a stronger nation.
I’d like to start by asking all of you to imagine a scenario.
Let’s say that one morning, you came up with an idea for the next big product.
The idea was so big that you felt compelled to invest your time, your life savings, and all your passion into turning this idea into a reality.
Then to sell this product, you opened a retail store.
Yet for some reason — when the doors opened — you decided to market to only 5 out of every 100 people who walked by, essentially ignoring more than 9 out of every 10 people who went past your store.
Now let me ask you a question: would your business have a fair chance to compete and prosper?
The answer is obvious: No, of course not.
Yet this happens every day whenever an American business, that has the ability to export, chooses not to sell their goods and services overseas.
As a result, they miss out on the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside our borders.
They miss out on significant consumer dollars because roughly 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power is also outside our borders.
They are also missing out on dynamic growth.
According to the International Monetary Fund, approximately 85 percent of the world’s economic growth through 2015 is — you guessed it — taking place outside our borders.
So the economic landscape is clear.
If you own a business, and want to reach more customers, gain more access to purchasing power, and have a greater chance of being part of incredible growth, you should export.
There are tremendous opportunities in the global economy, and American businesses should seize them.
However, the sad truth is that not enough are. Just one percent of U.S. businesses export. Clearly, there is potential to do so much more.
As Under Secretary, I’ve traveled all over the world. And I must tell you that there is great demand for products that are “Made in America.”
And whenever a sale is made abroad, that revenue comes back to a business here at home — maybe located in one of your cities.
That’s money which can be used to expand a business or hire workers. In turn, that strengthens communities and spurs healthy development.
So the bottom line is this: exports are good for economic growth.
They are good for businesses.
And they are good for your cities.
That’s why President Obama has made increasing exports a top priority.
In 2010, he launched the National Export Initiative with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
We’ve worked to achieve this goal in a number of ways, from advocacy and trade promotion, to removing trade barriers in order to ensure that American firms are competing on a level playing-field.
Thus far, we’ve had tremendous success. Last year, U.S. exports reached $2.1 trillion in total value. This is an all-time record. More importantly, these exports had an impact on the ground.
They supported nearly 10 million jobs — an increase of 1.2 million jobs since 2009.
This means that — as a result of exports — more Americans are able to keep people in their homes; put food on the table; and pay off their student loans;
That’s the headline I want to leave with you today.
Exporting isn’t just about what’s happening overseas — thousands of miles away.
It’s also about making a difference here at home.
And I want to work with you to make a difference in your cities.
Specifically, I want to partner with you to develop tailored export plans for your areas.
I want more of your city’s businesses selling their products all over the world.
At the Department of Commerce, we have tremendous resources to support their efforts, specifically the talented staff that’s located in more than 100 U.S. cities and more than 70 countries.
They know the markets.
They know how to navigate through the export process.
And they stand ready to help U.S. businesses succeed.
They’ve done great work in recent years, helping companies export for the first time, and helping those already exporting to expand into new markets.
And I’m proud to say we are taking our work of empowering communities to the next level.
This is an effort I call “localizing the National Export Initiative.”
We recognize that only so much can be done from Washington, DC.
There are things happening out there that we can’t see from the nation’s capitol.
America is made up of different communities, each with its own character and opportunities.
Regional leaders have a unique view of these issues.
They bring to the table incredible insight into their respective regions.
And we want to utilize this insight.
This is an important effort because cities across America are helping fuel the national growth of U.S. exports.
Metropolitan areas are generating incredible economic activity, and are primed to expand exports and increase jobs.
We want to help them achieve this potential.
And we’ve been proud to work with the Brookings Institution to make this happen.
We have partnered together on an effort called the Metropolitan Export Initiative.
Thus far, we have collaborated with our local partners to develop export plans for Los Angeles, Syracuse, Portland, and Minneapolis with the help of my fellow panelist, Mayor Rybak.
Each plan is tailored to the strengths and opportunities within each region.
The response has been overwhelming.
So we are expanding the effort into many more cities moving forward.
It’s going to produce big benefits.
Localizing the NEI isn’t just a slogan.
It’s a strategy to boost U.S. exports in the long-term.
Working with Brookings and other regional partners, I’m confident that it’s a strategy that will pay off.
Another strategy that I’m confident will pay off is the President’s unprecedented commitment to attracting foreign direct investment.
Here in the U.S., FDI plays a crucial role in our economy.
U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms maintain a stock foreign direct investment position in the United States of about 2.3 trillion dollars.
These companies employ more than 5 million U.S. workers, which translates to more than $400 billion in wages.
I’m sure all of you know from your experiences in your cities how FDI is good for our economy and our future.
And we want more of it to flow to our shores.
So the President has launched the SelectUSA initiative.
Housed in the Commerce Department, SelectUSA is the first coordinated U.S. government-wide effort to promote and support business investment in the United States.
Working with headquarters in Washington, this effort is carried out on the ground by the Commerce staff members located around the world.
They spread the word about the desirable market conditions in the American economy, including a hardworking and educated workforce, relatively low taxes, and, of course, access to an incredible consumer base.
Then they assist potential investors in a number of ways, including helping those who encounter confusion, delays or obstacles when navigating through the federal regulatory process.
We want more foreign investment going into cities like yours, and want to work with you to make it happen.
With me here at the conference are representatives from SelectUSA. Reach out to them. Reach out to me. Or visit the website at SelectUSA.gov
Let’s work together on this important issue.
Let’s work together to strengthen local economies.
Now I know that the two words — “work together” — are sometimes questioned in this particular climate.
Getting parties from both sides of the aisle to cooperate on issues can be challenging, but I know it can be done.
I know because it happened just last year when — thanks to the President’s leadership — three trade agreements passed in Congress with bipartisan support.
I believe they did because jobs and economic growth should not be Republican or Democratic issues.
They are American issues. And these trade agreements are good for America.
In the months since they passed, the trade agreements with Korea and Colombia have taken effect.
U.S. businesses now have unprecedented access to these important markets.
And the Panama trade agreement will take effect later this year, widening the circle of opportunity even further.
Again, this all happened because of bipartisan cooperation.
In this spirit, I urge Congress to work with the President to strengthen our economy.
The Administration has called on Congress to lift an outdated amendment that would prevent the U.S. from benefiting from Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization.
If lifted, U.S. businesses will be able to benefit from the lower tariffs and increased access to Russia’s rapidly growing sectors.
We can’t miss out on this opportunity. So I urge Congress to take action.
I also join the call for Congress to act on the President’s “to do list” which includes:
- rewarding small businesses that create jobs with a 10 percent tax credit;
- and eliminating the tax incentives to ship jobs overseas so we can start insourcing, and bring jobs back home.
Even though, under the President’s leadership, we’ve had 27 straight months of private sector growth, resulting in millions of new jobs, there is still a long way to go.
That’s why — again — I urge Congress to work with the President and take action.
I also want to partner with all of you.
We’ve got to work together to accelerate our economic recovery.
We’ve got to work together to give American businesses and workers every chance to succeed.
That’s why we’ve got to work together to boost U.S. exports — impacting jobs, cities, and futures.
There’s no question that recent years have been difficult.
But while markets will always go up and down — the innovation of the American entrepreneur will always endure.
The productivity of the American worker will always be strong.
That’s why products stamped with the words — “Made in America” — still represent quality and value.
So let’s come together to sell these products all over the world.
Once again, my thanks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors for its leadership.
I look forward to our conversation today.
And I also look forward to our continued partnership in the years ahead.
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