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Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits the Port of Savannah

Senator Johnny Isakson, GPA Board Chairman Alec Poitevint, Acting Deputy Secretary Blank, Senator Saxby Chambliss

Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Savannah, Ga. yesterday, where she received a briefing on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) and toured the Port of Savannah with U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and representatives from the Georgia Ports Authority. Following the tour, Blank delivered remarks on the importance of projects like SHEP, an efficient, high-tech export engine that will help U.S. businesses compete globally, as part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI).

Expanding America’s ports means expanding America’s exports. And more exports mean more jobs. Exports already support nearly 10 million U.S. jobs, including one in three manufacturing jobs, and positions supported by exports pay about 15 percent more on average.

The president launched the NEI in 2009 with the goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014, supporting several million jobs. U.S. exports increased 14.5 percent in 2011 to a record $2.1 trillion. That’s the second year of double-digit growth, ahead of schedule to achieve the goal of NEI.The fact is, 95 percent of the world's customers live outside U.S. borders. It is important to compete for those customers because other nations are out there competing for them, too. Over the past two years, the Commerce Department has helped thousands of American businesses do just that through trade missions and shows, advocacy, assistance through our commercial service officers, and much more. Commerce is also working to make it easier for businesses to develop new products, by modernizing the patent system and by supporting technology transfer from the lab to startups.

People all over the world want innovative, Made-in-America products. The task is to make sure that U.S. businesses have the tools they need–so they can make deals happen and ship their products out of places such as the Port of Savannah.

By value, American ports already move about 64 percent of U.S. overseas trade. By 2020, the value of freight leaving U.S. ports is predicted to expand by over 40 percent. As ships get bigger and sea lanes get more crowded, it is critical to make sure that industry is able to transport as many American goods as possible out into the world. If a shipper has just one additional inch of clearance for his vessel, he can load more goods. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that one inch can equal an extra $4 million in sales to General Motors, for example.

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is a great example of the kind of efficient, high-tech effort the U.S. needs. Businesses in Georgia–and other states that depend on this port–can then expand to meet demand in fast-growing markets abroad. This project is just one more way to ensure that U.S. companies compete and win in the global economy. And that’s what this administration will continue to be focused on.

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