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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Resigns and Becomes the Next U.S. Ambassador to China

Monday, August 1, 2011

Acting Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca M. Blank Assumes Role of Acting Commerce Secretary

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke formally resigned today and was sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime serving as Commerce Secretary for President Obama.  I’m proud of the men and women with whom I had the privilege to work and the tremendous accomplishments we’ve made together in the last 28 months,” Ambassador Locke said.

“From increasing U.S. exports and reducing patent application wait times, to creating the foundation for a national smart grid and taking an important first step to reform the export control system, we have helped create jobs, lay the foundation for future economic growth and made American companies more innovative at home and more competitive abroad. And we did all of this while making the Commerce Department more efficient and responsive to its stakeholders," Locke noted, citing the 2010 Census in particular.

It came in on time and 25 percent under budget, saving taxpayers nearly $1.9 billion.
“From Asia to South America to Ohio and Iowa, I have met with foreign leaders, CEOs, inventors and small business owners. Throughout my travels, I have seen the worldwide appeal of American products and the ingenuity of the American people.  While Commerce secretary was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, I’m excited to take on the challenge of serving as our nation’s top envoy to China.  I look forward to continuing my service to the American people.”

Since taking the helm at the Commerce Department in March 2009, Locke has played an instrumental role in promoting the products and services of U.S. businesses in foreign markets.  As the Cabinet official in charge of implementing President Obama’s National Export Initiative, Locke presided over a 17 percent increase in exports compared to 2009.  During his tenure, Locke led a clean energy trade mission to China and Indonesia in May 2010, a high-tech trade mission to India in February 2011, and a congressional-delegation to South Korea in April 2011, to build support for the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement.  Locke also co-chaired two sessions of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, which helped to level the playing field for U.S. businesses and promote American products and services in the growing Chinese market. Exports to China saw a 32-percent increase in 2010 compared to 2009.

Under Locke’s leadership, the Commerce Department also achieved the most significant reduction in the patent application backlog since 2000; reduced the average time needed to award a competitive economic development grant from 128 days to 20 days; streamlined department business services through the CommerceConnect one-stop shop initiative; efficiently distributed nearly $4 billion in Recovery Act funds for broadband development in under 20 months, which will help create or upgrade more than 100,000 miles of broadband infrastructure; and, oversaw a significant first step in the president’s export control reform effort that strengthens our national security, while making U.S. companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for exports to partners and allies.

Dr. Rebecca M. Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Commerce Department, will serve as Acting Commerce Secretary. Blank has served as Acting Deputy Secretary since November 2010.

“Ambassador Locke has been a tremendous leader for our department.  We will all miss him and wish him the best of luck in China,” Blank said.  “I look forward to continuing the department’s work. Our mission is important to foster economic growth and create jobs by working with American businesses to make them more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.”

As Acting Deputy Secretary, Blank oversaw matters of management and policy for the department’s 12 bureaus, functioning as Commerce’s chief operating officer.  Blank has served Locke since June 2009 as his principal economic adviser in her role as Under Secretary for Economic Affairs and head of the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA). ESA oversees the two premier statistical agencies in the United States, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. To see Acting Secretary Blank's full bio, click here.

In May, President Obama nominated John Bryson to serve as the next Commerce Secretary. As a key member of the president’s economic team, Mr. Bryson would bring decades of knowledge and experience from the public and private sectors, and will provide valuable ideas and initiatives to strengthen America’s competitiveness around the world. His nomination is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate.