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Remarks by Rick Wade, Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Commerce


Zions Bank 8th Annuanl International Trade and Business Conference
Salt Lake City, UT
May 20, 2009

As prepared for delivery

Thank you for the kind introduction.  It is an honor for me to be here during World Trade Week to speak at Zions Bank’s International Trade and Business Conference.  I want to particularly thank Scott Anderson, President and CEO of Zions Bank, and Governor John Huntsman for their kind invitation to participate in this 8th annual conference.  I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Governor Huntsman on his recent nomination as U.S. Ambassador to China.  Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, sends his regards.

It is my understanding that this is the largest conference held during World Trade Week.  I was also told that when the organizers announced I would be speaking that the registration grew from 200 to 800.  With those polling numbers, perhaps I should just move to Utah and run for political office.

Secretary Locke said in his confirmation hearing that he is committed to “work every day to make the Commerce Department an engine for improving our competitiveness, encouraging innovation, and creating jobs.”  Partnerships are a critical component of this goal, and the Secretary and our team will strengthen our relationships with business, other federal agencies, and state and local organizations to position the United States as a global leader in exports and innovation.

We consider Zions Bank to be at the forefront of these types of partnerships.  Zions Bank is part of the fabric of your local communities, but "local is now increasingly global." As you know, last year, Zions Bank joined with Commerce in the Commercial Service Corporate Partnership.  Zions Bank is an important part of the program, and we value our joint commitment to create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy through exporting.  I look forward to building on this foundation.

Domestic Agenda

Through the International Trade Administration and the Census Bureau to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce has a broad portfolio of interests.  The department’s mission -- to foster, serve, and promote the Nation's economic development and technological advancement -- touches ordinary American citizens every day – from predicting weather patterns and helping inventors secure rights to their ideas, to helping companies do business globally and helping communities around the country through Economic Development Agency grants.

Let me note that one of the Secretary’s immediate priorities is to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes expanding broadband access across the country, restoring coastal habitats, constructing research facilities, and providing grants to spur innovation.

We also have a number of significant tasks ahead of us in the near-term -- the transition to digital television in June, the looming 2010 Census, and the critical role the Department will play in our nation’s economic recovery – all creating a sense of urgency.  I think urgency is a good reminder that the Department of Commerce’s work has never been more important than now to help address the immediate challenges we face.

The challenges we face as a nation are deep and real, and have been unrivaled for more than half a century – and also underscore the complexities of the global economic environment. But, even in these economic times, it is important to remind ourselves that U.S. companies lead the world in technologies, innovation, and entrepreneurism.  We should be proud of this standing.  And it is our job, the U.S. Government, to continue to help U.S. companies identify new and growing markets and actively promote exports on their behalf.  Exporting is integral to creating jobs, growing businesses, and ensuring that U.S. industry is the strongest and most competitive in the world.

Preparing for Growth

Today, we are in the middle of World Trade Week - when we celebrate how trade has positively impacted our economy and improved the standard of living for Americans.

In his World Trade Week Proclamation, President Obama reminded us that World Trade Week is an opportunity to reaffirm the benefits of trade and to emphasize America's commitment to a global marketplace that creates good jobs and improves the lives of American families. The United States and our trading partners stand to gain when trade is open, transparent, rules-based, and fair, while showing respect for labor and environmental standards.  The world’s leaders echoed the importance of trade to the global economy at the G-20 Summit in London by urging nations to promote global trade and investment and reject protectionism.

Trade with other nations has always been a cornerstone of our economic growth, and now more than ever, our economy is dependent on the global economy.  Last year, exports accounted for 13 percent of U.S. economic growth and supported millions of jobs in the United States.  We exported an astounding $1.84 trillion worth of goods and services. To put this in historical context, exports accounted for nearly 10 percent of our gross domestic product five years earlier and 5 percent 40 years ago.

And trade is obviously important to Utah’s economy.  One in seven manufacturing jobs in Utah depends on exports.  Of the thousands of Utah-based companies that are exporting, 85 percent of them are small- and medium-sized companies, with fewer than 500 employees. Last year alone, Utah exported $10.3 billion in merchandise goods to its top export markets that include the United Kingdom, Canada, Taiwan, Belgium, and China – this was a 118 percent increase over 2004 levels.  If we take a closer look at the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, its exports represented 70 percent of Utah’s total merchandise exports in 2007.

In difficult economic times, it is even more important for American industry to take advantage of every opportunity for export-driven growth.  That is why the Obama Administration will work to open more markets to U.S. exports in important job growth industries such as energy efficiency, clean energy, and health information technology.

Administration Goals – Defending Open Markets

President Obama set the stage for the Administration’s view on trade when he remarked that as “one of the largest economies in the world, it's important for us to make sure that we are showing leadership in the belief that trade ultimately is beneficial to all countries.”

Trade Agreements

For example, the Administration is committed to expanding economic growth through trade agreements and ensuring that the benefits of trade are spread widely. We are reviewing the pending Free Trade Agreements negotiated during the last Administration and working with our partner governments and stakeholders to resolve some additional issues. These agreements would bring significant benefits to U.S. businesses, including:

  • Improved opportunities for U.S. exporters to participate in the $5 billion Panama Canal expansion project;
  • The immediate elimination of tariffs on more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of non-agricultural goods to Colombia, and
  • A projected $10 billion increase in U.S. gross domestic product, as a result of increased market access for goods to the Korean market.

In addition, we will negotiate future trade agreements to create opportunities for all Americans. To that end, the Administration will work with our trading partners to advance a strong market-opening agreement for agriculture, industrial goods, and services through the WTO’s Doha Development Round.

Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign direct investment, or FDI, also plays a critical role in the U.S. economy. The United States is one of the most open economies in the world to foreign investment. As a result, 5.3 million American jobs were supported by foreign investments in the United States in 2006 – with more than 37,000 jobs in Utah alone.

On the other side, more than 50 percent of U.S. exports of goods in 2006, nearly $532 billion, were associated with U.S. multi-national companies or their investments abroad. These investments alone generated $4.1 trillion in revenue, which included U.S. goods and services exports of nearly $300 billion.

The United States supports inward investment through longstanding U.S. law and policy.  The United States supports outward investment through negotiated investment protections in bilateral investment treaties, or BITs, and in trade agreements, that support the rule of law, increased transparency, compensation for expropriations, and the free transfer of capital.

The Administration is committed to building on existing trade agreements and BITs in an open and transparent manner. These instruments help to ensure that U.S. companies and farmers are not at a disadvantage when competing abroad.

Resources to Help U.S. Companies

Secretary Locke expressed his vision of a vibrant Department of Commerce that is an engine for job growth and economic revival.  At the Department, we have some potentially powerful tools to help U.S. companies looking to expand their business overseas and compete globally. We are taking a holistic approach to keeping our companies competitive by:

  • Working closely with our industry regulators to ensure that while meeting our objectives of protecting the health, safety, and environment of our citizens, we are also advancing opportunities for our businesses;
  • Working closely with U.S. industry to ensure their concerns are reflected in our discussions with our foreign counterparts;
  • Providing companies with a one-stop "trade complaint center" that makes it easy and inexpensive for American firms to get the U.S. Government to focus on reducing or eliminating foreign trade barriers;
  • Helping U.S. companies win bids on foreign tenders through U.S. Government advocacy; and
  • Guiding companies through every step of the export process, from shipping and logistics, to understanding foreign regulations, to finding solutions when they encounter trade barriers overseas.

Overall, the federal government’s trade promotion programs are designed to address challenges that U.S. companies face. These challenges include the lack of information on how to export and take advantage of exporting, the inability to get export financing, and overcoming numerous barriers and complexities to foreign market entry. Through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which consists of 20 federal government agencies responsible for export promotion, the Department of Commerce helps coordinate and set priorities for a government-wide agenda on trade promotion.

In his confirmation hearing, Secretary Locke strongly encouraged exactly what Zions Bank is doing today -- working together with government in a public-private partnership to foster innovation and economic growth in our economy. 

So, what can U.S. companies do right away to prepare for growth?  To begin, take advantage of nearby government and private sector support, or contact your state or local economic development agencies.   Better still, I encourage you to visit your local U.S. Export Assistance Center, staffed by trade experts across the country – and we have an office here in Salt Lake City.  The Commercial Service has more than 100 offices throughout the United States and in 77 offices around the world.  These offices can provide customized services that will help you reach your international trade goals.    The bottom line is that the Department of Commerce is open for business.  We are open for you!

And I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how both the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce can work with you—what we can do better-- to reinvigorate the U.S. economy through exporting.

Exporter of the Year Award

Finally, I wish to congratulate Lifetime Products of Clearfield, Utah, on receiving the ThinkGlobal’s 2009 Exporter of the Year award in the Consumer Goods category.  I understand that Lifetime Products, of Clearfield, Utah, is a world leader in the design and manufacture of affordable lifestyle products such as outdoor tables, chairs, storage sheds, and sports equipment.   Currently, 16 percent of the company’s revenue is generated through export sales, and exports have grown 9 percent in the most recent sales year.  Lifetime exports to 44 countries and has sales offices in China, Mexico, and Europe.  Lifetime Products is an excellent example of how U.S. companies can expand their markets and their bottom line through exporting. 

I would now like to invite Mr. Richard Hendrickson, President of Lifetime Products to join me, so that we all can congratulate him and Lifetime Products on receiving the ThinkGlobal 2009 Exporter of the Year award in the Consumer Goods Category.

Thank you so much and have a great conference.