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Remarks at Export-Import Bank Annual Conference

Friday, April 13, 2012

Commerce Secretary John Bryson

Remarks at Export-Import Bank Annual Conference

Thank you, Fred [Hochberg]. Good morning everyone. It’s a pleasure to welcome all of you to the second day of the Ex-Im’s Annual Conference.

Yesterday, you heard from former President Clinton and other distinguished speakers about how Ex-Im helps companies—like yours—as you grow and create jobs here at home.

Today, you have another great lineup.

For example, I know there is a breakout session with Larry Walther, who is on Ex-Im’s Board. He joined me on a trade mission to India just two weeks ago.

In fact, let’s give a hand to Fred, Larry, and everyone at Ex-Im who have put together this conference.

As Commerce Secretary, one of my top priorities is increasing U.S. exports. We want to do everything possible to help American companies build it here and sell it everywhere.

The National Export Initiative—which the president launched two years ago—is a key part of that. As you know, it’s a government-wide effort to double U.S. exports

Already, U.S. exports of goods and services hit an all-time record of $2.1 trillion last year. And just yesterday, we announced that year-to-date exports for January and February of this year are up 8.5 percent over 2011.

Also, from 2009 to 2011, the number of export-supported jobs increased by 1.2 million—and we know that these export-related jobs pay higher than average.

Ex-Im also just had a record year. They provided financing that led to about $41 billion in U.S. exports.

And as most of you likely know, Ex-Im Bank provides this at no cost to taxpayers.

In fact, Ex-Im has actually generated revenues for the U.S. Treasury since the 1990s.

Now that’s smart government. Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank should be straightforward, sound, and simple decision.

Or, put another way, losing Ex-Im at a time when America’s businesses and workers are just getting back on their feet—would be unacceptable.

The Commerce Department and Ex-Im are close partners. I’ll give one example of how we’re working together.

India’s economy has grown at an annual rate of around eight percent in recent years. Their cities and populations are growing at a rate unparalleled among many larger countries.

So, India has an ambitious plan to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure over the next five years.

Two weeks ago, I led 16 U.S. businesses to India on my first trade mission as Commerce Secretary.

My message was simple: American companies have deep experience in building our own infrastructure here in the U.S. We can find mutually-beneficial ways to help our Indian partners do the same—creating more prosperity and jobs in both countries.

And here’s an important fact: The Export-Import Bank supported about $3.6 billion of U.S. exports to India last year.

Two of the companies on the trade mission were GE and Black-and-Veatch. Last year, GE Energy signed a 750-million-dollar contract for a 2.4 Gigawatt project. Black-and-Veatch was selected to design the plant.

Ex-Im financed that significant, and very important, project.

Looking forward, the Commerce Department and Ex-Im will continue to work closely with businesses like yours to build stronger bridges around the world.

And this is a team effort. Leaders throughout the country are playing key roles.

In particular, America’s great cities are crucial to driving exports. I’m now very pleased to introduce the extraordinary mayor of one of them, who really needs no introduction.

Rahm Emanuel is remarkably talented, colorful, and in the words of New York Times columnist David Brooks—in a column that he termed an “appreciation of Rahm,”—“always passionately promoting some policy idea.”

He was born and raised in Chicago. He became active in local and state politics, and came to Washington as a Senior Adviser in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 1998.

After a stint in the private sector, he served three terms in Congress.

And as you all know, he went on to become the White House Chief of Staff for President Obama, where he did remarkable things.

During his tenure, he helped orchestrate the passage of key milestones such as the economic Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, and health care reform—increasing access and decreasing costs for millions of Americans.

He played a crucial role in securing a bipartisan compromise that saved 140,000 teacher’s jobs.

Then, in 2011, he was elected the 55th Mayor of Chicago.

If you have read about him over the past year, you know that he hit the ground running —bringing quick action and bold ideas to the city.

In fact, since Rahm became mayor, more than 25 companies have announced that they’ll be creating jobs in Chicago, and nearly 15,000 jobs have been created through initiatives he has championed.

He has made tough choices to help restore the city’s economic health.

He has worked to increase transparency and communication with the people of Chicago.

And he is helping Chicago’s businesses—including its exporters—do what they do best, which is grow and create jobs.

Please help me welcome to the podium Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.