Remarks by Assistant Secretary Arun Venkataraman at the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) World Trade Dinner – MAY 2

Washington, DC
May 2, 2024

As Prepared

Thank you, Susan, for that kind introduction. Good evening, everyone. I could not be more pleased to be with you all here to celebrate the work we are all doing together to make trade work for American workers and businesses.

Let me begin by stating something that everyone in this room knows better than most: TRADE IS A FORCE FOR GOOD. After seeing the role trade has played in expanding innovation, creating jobs, and lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, it seems odd to have to make this point. But it is worth reminding ourselves, in the face of so much criticism leveled at trade, that TRADE IS A FORCE FOR GOOD.

That is why it is incumbent upon those of us in government to preserve and in fact grow opportunities to trade.

At the International Trade Administration, we are in the business of promoting U.S. exports to foreign markets, including through our 100 offices across the United States and in over 80 markets around the world.

We are in the business of fighting trade barriers and creating a level playing field for American firms and workers.

We are in the business of harnessing the potential of the digital economy, especially promoting trusted cross‐border data flows that are vital to the modern global economy – all the more so for small enterprises.

And why is all of this our business? Not just because our governing statutes tell us so. But because the evidence is clear: by and large, businesses that export bring in greater revenue, create more jobs, and pay better wages. And with over 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, American companies can’t afford to leave that money on the table. If we don’t get it, someone else will.

But the power of trade extends far beyond exports. Trade is a lever to demonstrate U.S. leadership and advance both U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners — from promoting high‐quality industry standards, to advocating for fair wages, to setting strong rules of the road for next‐generation technologies.

The Biden‐Harris Administration takes an expansive view of the power and promise that trade offers businesses, workers, and the communities that they serve.

But of course, that does not mean everything is business as usual when it comes to trade. As a whole of government, we can and must do better to help our companies and workers succeed in this evolving trade environment.

We must do a better job bringing the benefits of trade to all Americans, in all parts of our country. That is why we have opened 7 new Rural Export Centers and launched the Global Diversity Export Initiative, or GDEI. Through the GDEI, we are leveraging Strategic Partnerships with diverse business associations to ensure that our trade shows, missions, and counseling services reach businesses in underserved communities, including minority‐, veteran‐, women‐, and LGBTQI+‐owned businesses.

We must do a better job acknowledging and addressing the negative impacts of trade in local communities. That is why we are enforcing a record number of anti‐dumping and countervailing duty orders and advising U.S. businesses suffering from unfair trade practices. We are making make sure that American businesses have a fair shake in international trade and can outcompete in the face of excess capacity and non‐market practices, so that our economy is enhanced – not threatened – by competition with foreign businesses, to the benefit of industry, workers, and consumers alike.

We must do a better job correcting the vulnerabilities in our supply chains. That is why ITA stood up the first‐of‐its‐kind Supply Chain Center to reduce the frequency and intensity of future supply chain disruptions. And we have mitigated critical supply chain gaps through our SelectUSA team targeting their efforts to attract foreign direct investment in these sectors.

But we also know we cannot go it alone and we cannot make everything here, so we have doubled down on cooperating with trusted partners. This includes the recently concluded Supply Chain Agreement reached under the Indo‐Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), which calls for a collective response to disruptions that, working closely with industry, will help us create a reliable supply of critical goods during a time of crisis.

Finally, we must do a better job recognizing the national security implications of trade flows. Even as we—and by we, I mean YOU in the private sector—innovate, those innovations at times can be used against us, whether we are talking about advanced semiconductors, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, or artificial intelligence. That is why we are deploying all our tools to protect Americans from that possibility, working in close coordination with our trusted partners where we can and ensuring that our promotion of trade does not come at the expense of national security.

As you can see, we live in interesting times when it comes to trade, and there is no shortage of work we need to do together. Partners like NFTC play a critical role in helping us ensure that an affirmative approach to trade promotion and trade policy delivers for the American people. So let me end where I began – by reminding ourselves that TRADE IS INDEED A FORCE FOR GOOD. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to do more good out there. Thank you.