of Public Affairs
Remarks of Franklin L. Lavin
Under Secrtary of Commerce for International Trade
Presentation of Export Achievement Certificate
Friday, January 6, 2006 - Newark, New Jersey
Good morning everyone. Thanks to Jim Courter, CEO of IDT for hosting this event. It's great to be here in Newark to visit a company that is experiencing dramatic growth through international business. Thanks also to Joe Kelly, Director of International Sales of the MADDAK division of Bel-Arts in Pequannock.
International trade is a historic segment of America's economy and the benefits of international trade are very evident here today.
We have some very good news to celebrate here today as we recognize IDT Corporation and MADDAK for their export accomplishments. Let me put this good news in context.
The good news starts with the U.S. economy as a whole. Today, the U.S. economy is the fastest growing major industrialized economy in the world and more Americans are working than ever before.
Let me give a few numbers. Today, the Government released new jobs figures - There were 108,000 jobs created in December and the unemployment rate in the United States is now down to 4.9 percent. That's below the averages of the 1970's (6.2%), 1980's (7.3%) & 1990's (5.8%). Unemployment rates have fallen across all levels of education, race, and age since 2003.
We have experienced 31 consecutive months of job growth. Nearly 2 million jobs have been created over the past year. 4.6 million jobs have been added since the Bush tax cuts of May 2003; that's more than Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Japan combined have added in that period.
Consumers see this good news. The index of consumer confidence rose in December as Americans felt the benefits of falling gas prices and continued job growth. Incomes are rising. Over the past 12 months, personal incomes were up 1.5%. Since 2001, after-tax income per person has risen 7% and Household net worth is at $51.1 trillion - an all-time high.
U.S. Gross Domestic Product grew 4.1% in the 3rd Quarter of 2005, the 10th consecutive quarter in which GDP grew at a rate above 3% despite the hurricanes. That's above the averages of each of the past 3 decades. For comparison, European Union GDP has grown 1.6% during the past 4 quarters.
Finally, in regard to the numbers, inflation remains in check. The consumer price index fell by 0.6% in November reflecting a decline in energy prices. Core CPI is stable at 2.1% over the last year. That's low by historic standards.
But we have more work to do. President Bush's agenda will ensure continued opportunity for America's workers and entrepreneurs. To maintain the economy's momentum, the President has called upon Congress to make tax relief permanent and restrain spending to remain on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. The President is advancing pro-growth policies to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil; help workers find affordable healthcare; strengthen rules governing pensions; reform our legal system; and give more Americans control over their lives by expanding ownership. To ensure that Americans have the skills needed to fill the jobs of the 21st century, the Nation's education system and job training programs must prepare workers for new opportunities. America must maintain its economic leadership in the world and open foreign markets to American goods and services.
Let me connect this internationally. I'm pleased to say that international trade is one of the reasons for our economic health. At the end of 2005, U.S. exports are up 11% over 2004 and are currently running at a $1.3 trillion annual rate.
More than one-sixth of all manufacturing workers in New Jersey depend on exports for their jobs.
Almost 16,000 companies exported goods from New Jersey. Remarkably, of those companies, 90% were small and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees. Small and medium-sized enterprises generate more than a third of New Jersey's total exports of merchandize.
Some 20 million U.S. jobs depend on exports or foreign investment.
New Jersey depends on world markets for its prosperity. New Jersey's
exports in 2005 should total over $20 billion, up 10% over 2004.
Now, I would like to present the Department's Export Achievement Certificate in recognition of IDT's efforts, particularly in its outreach to Africa, to Jim Courter, CEO of IDT. Congratulations Jim!
I'm also pleased to recognize the MADDAK division of Bel-Arts Products. Joe Kelly is the Director of International Sales for MADDAK. Joe also serves as a New Jersey District Export Council member, appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.
MADDAK specializes in healthcare products for the disability and rehabilitation markets. The firm has worked with the Newark Commerce Department office for assistance from Senior International Trade Specialist Harvey Rubinstein since 1997 and we have worked with them to identify target markets and develop marketing strategies.
The most recent success in our working relationship was a "new" to market sale to Ireland as a result of MADDAK's participation in a U.S. Commercial Services organized catalog showcase.
As a direct result of marketing counseling with the Newark USEAC, and taking advantage of U.S. Commercial Services products and services, MADDAK has reported an increase to market sale of its healthcare products to Japan.
U.S. Commercial Services has assisted MADDAK expand its business to China, the Dominican Republic, France, India, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Singapore and many other countries.
Now, I would like to present the Department's Export Achievement Certificate in recognition of MADDAK's export expansion. Joe, Congratulations
I encourage all of New Jersey's businesses to sell more of their products and services abroad. A great starting point would be for them to call Carmella Mammas here at the Newark office of the Department of Commerce.
We have two special companies here that are part of the good economic news. We can look at the economic numbers - the new jobs and GDP growth and see the story of these two companies repeated many times across our country. It's easy to see why we are such a great nation.
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