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Remarks at the Global Business Conference, Berlin, Germany

Friday, May 25, 2012

Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at the Global Business Conference, Berlin, Germany

Guten morgen.  Thank you, Jim. The work you have done at CNN over the past 30 years is remarkable.

It is wonderful to be in Berlin with all of you to discuss ways we can promote growth and enhance prosperity for the people of the U.S., Germany, and beyond.

This is not in my bio, but in my youth I spent some time in Germany in the 1960s–including a year here in Berlin at Freie Universitat. I remember coming again and again to the Berliner Philharmonic then directed by the extraordinary Herbert Von Karajan. I remember making my way under very difficult circumstances into East Berlin, via Checkpoint Charlie and on the U-bahn so I could see the Berliner Ensemble under Bertold Brecht’s widow, Helene Weigel.  And yes, I remember spending many evenings getting to know my classmates and brushing up on my German over a bier or two.

So, having been in Germany on that tragic day when President Kennedy was assassinated, his words, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” resonated deeply with me back then. And they still resonate with me today. I will never forget the outpouring of sympathy and support by the German people during that difficult time.

In the 50 years since then, the world has watched this nation grow and evolve into a global democratic power–driven by the spirit of the German people.

And today, at this unique moment in history, we see an opportunity for our two countries to work together in helping lead the world toward greater prosperity. 

In fact, this goal was expressed more broadly by the leaders of the G8 countries last week in the Camp David Declaration.

It said that our imperative is to promote growth and jobs. It said that the global recovery shows signs of promise, but significant headwinds persist. It said that we must take all necessary steps to reinvigorate our economies while implementing fiscal consolidation.

And it said that we must recognize that the right measures are not the same for everyone.  
Clearly, Germany and the U.S. are already showing the way forward.  So just how far have we come?

The Gross Domestic Product in both Germany and the U.S. dropped more than 5 percent during this past recession. But since 2009, both countries have seen slow but steady growth.  And forecasters show continued growth for both Germany and the U.S. in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, unemployment has dropped about 2 percentage points in both countries. Though I should note that we still have work to do, especially in the U.S., to ensure that everyone who wants a job, has a job.

But overall, what is clear–as we look forward–is that both Germany and the U.S. are on the leading edge of global recovery. At this critical moment, we have an opportunity and, some might say–also a responsibility–to make smart and strategic investments in our businesses and our workers.

It all starts with a strong manufacturing base. This is a point of strong agreement among business leaders in both in Germany and the U.S. Industrial production was hit hard in the recession, but it remains a key driver of both of our economies.

The Obama administration has strongly advocated on behalf of our manufacturers. There’s good reason for that: Since 2009, they have driven over one-fourth of America’s GDP growth.

Moreover, our economy has added nearly half-a-million manufacturing jobs over the past 26 months in the U.S.–our strongest surge since the 1990s. 

And these are good jobs. The Commerce Department just released a report showing that manufacturing jobs provide wages and benefits 17 percent higher than others.

Already, Germany has recovered nearly all of its decline in industrial production, and the U.S. has recovered about 70 percent. 

Still, as we have seen with the data released just yesterday, we must do more to support a vibrant manufacturing sector–with good jobs for both Americans and Germans.

One important way we can support our manufacturers is by providing them with ample opportunities to export their products. Or, as I often say: Build it here, Sell it Everywhere.

Now, President Obama declared this week to be World Trade Week, so let me touch on exports.

Both of our economies depend significantly on exports. Exports account for about 14 percent of America’s GDP and German exports-beyond-the-EU represent about 19 percent. 

Both Germany and the U.S. have led with strong export growth as we emerged from the global downturn. In fact, both countries are now exporting more than before the recession. 

We can’t let up.

In the U.S., we remain focused on President Obama’s goal of doubling of U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

We’re well on our way with an all-time record of $2.1 trillion in U.S. exports last year.  More than 60 percent of that was manufactured goods.

The U.S.-German trade relationship, itself, is a good example of where we see growth taking place. Germany is America’s 5th largest trading partner.  And two-way trade of goods between our countries totaled nearly $150 billion in 2011, a 13 percent jump from 2010.

Now, in the U.S., we are working harder than ever to build on statistics like that. For example, our foreign commercial service officers and our embassies are constantly linking U.S. businesses with potential customers abroad. In addition, we have just opened up new markets in Korea and Colombia. About 80 percent of our tariffs in both of those countries are now zero.

On a larger scale, both the U.S. and Germany have important opportunities to support win-wins that will increase our exports while also fostering prosperity throughout our Trans-Atlantic relationships.

For example, earlier this week in London, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk addressed the future possibility of a U.S.-EU trade agreement. We have an interest in pursuing as ambitious a trade agreement as possible, provided it is based on a realistic sense of what can get done. We need to engage in a candid dialogue about the political realities and sensitivities, and develop a clear path forward that supports jobs and growth. 

In addition, over the past few months, the U.S. and the EU have been strongly engaged on consumer privacy and interoperability of our data privacy regimes. The president rolled out a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. And, as the EU considers new data protection measures, we should all keep in mind the goals of more trade, more cooperation, and more entrepreneurship.

Beyond trade, we can and should also invest more in each other. So let me turn to bilateral investment.

Back when I lived here in Germany, I explored the country in a Volkswagen bug. So I was thrilled to recently go to Tennessee to see a Volkswagen plant that is hiring 1,000 new workers this year to meet North American demand for the Passat.

This week, I have been speaking about the benefits of investing in the U.S. with business leaders in both France and Germany.

My message has been consistent and clear: The U.S. welcomes and encourages foreign investment in our economy.

German direct investment into the U.S. is over $250 billion  It’s the third-largest source of FDI into the U.S.  German investments including key industries such as chemicals and transportation equipment, as well as services sectors such as financial industries. Altogether, German firms employ over half-a-million American workers. . . . And I should note that the reverse is also true. 

It’s my goal to help German firms continue their success in the U.S. market–and to intensify this relationship.

In fact, Germany is a key priority for us in our new SelectUSA initiative–a government-wide effort led by the Commerce Department to help international and domestic firms grow and invest in the United States. Through SelectUSA, we are underscoring the benefits of investing in the U.S. 

This includes: increased market share in the world’s largest consumer market; access to U.S. financial markets, including private equity and venture capital; access to the country in which 30 percent of the word’s R&D spending takes place; access to a strong intellectual property rights regime; and access to America’s robust supply chains.

Through SelectUSA, we will connect potential investors with the appropriate points of contact at the state, local and federal levels; we will help business leaders if they encounter any confusion, delays or obstacles with U.S. regulations; and we will offer ongoing support after a company has invested in the U.S.

And in fact, SelectUSA’s work has already begun in earnest here in Germany–when we brought Economic Development Organizations from the U.S. to Hannover Messe last month. 

I look forward to even more success stories in bilateral investment–in both directions–as we jointly grow our economies, create jobs, and strengthen the global recovery.

And while it’s crucial that we support manufacturers, exporters, and companies that cross-invest, we can and must do even more to ensure long-term growth and prosperity–and I’ll give two final examples.

First, we must support innovation in manufacturing. In the U.S., manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private sector R&D and 90 percent of our patents. Up to three-quarters of U.S. growth after World War II has been linked to technological innovation.

Every industrialized country in the world provides major public support for R&D, helping universities and labs drive applied research and commercialization.  For example, here in Germany, there is a strong network of Universities of Applied Science, Technical Universities, and the Fraunhofer Research Institutes.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government’s direct support for R&D dropped from more than 70 percent in 1980 to 57 percent by 2008.

The Obama administration wants to reverse that trend.

Specifically, the president has set of goal of doubling the budgets for programs that support basic research, including the labs at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology—known as NIST.  Among other things, we need this support in order to build on collaborations with German researchers on measurements and standards. 

We want more success stories like we had in 2005, when John Hall of NIST and Theodor Hansch of the University of Munich shared the Nobel Prize in Physics. Their work could lead to better GPS systems–driving even more innovation through a technology with seemingly limitless applications.

President Obama is also supporting more R&D specifically targeted for advanced manufacturing–a field that leverages the latest technology to help make more and better products. This will help scientists and engineers who work in cutting-edge fields like flexible electronics, robotics, and bio-manufacturing. 

Countries like the U.S. and Germany are in a position to make these crucial investments that I’ve been talking about. I believe that we should do just that–not just to ensure a strong foundation for long-term growth but also to improve the quality of life for the next generation.

And, furthermore, we must ensure that the next generation is not only able to use these innovations, but that they are also able to build on them. . . which leads me to my final point:

We need strong education and training for the next generation of workers who will take our innovations and put them to work in the global economy.

Education in science, technology, engineering and math–STEM fields–is particularly important. I saw this on full display two days ago at the Siemens training facility here in Berlin–where education and hands-on training are together under one roof. And the president and I are thrilled that Siemens has brought this model to our community colleges in places like North Carolina.

This is an area where the U.S. can learn from Germany about what works. After all, 13 percent of U.S. college graduates get STEM degrees, while in Germany, it’s closer to 25 percent. So we have some work to do back in the U.S. 

That’s why President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget invests $3 billion across the federal government in programs that promote STEM education, a three percent increase. 

That’s why he also proposed a new Community-College-to-Career Fund of $8 billion to train 2 million workers–workers who can take good jobs at places like Siemens and the hundreds of other German companies in the U.S.

Clearly, STEM education is central to supporting manufacturing, and STEM-related research will drive innovation in the years to come.

In summary, there are many opportunities for the U.S. and Germany to continue to lead the world in manufacturing–and many other areas–in the 21st century.  

Together, we should continue to find and use the most effective tools to strengthen economic recovery for our countries–and to push global prosperity forward.

And, yes, as the G8 leaders said last week, our partners in the Eurozone also need to be able to use tools that spur growth while ensuring fiscal responsibility–an approach that the U.S. itself has taken under President Obama’s leadership.

So, thank you all for being here to tackle these challenges and opportunities…

And, to those who think our challenges are too big to overcome, I say this: “Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen” . . . “Let them come to Berlin”. . . and see the work that all of you are doing here today.

I look forward to working more with all of you to strengthen the close ties among our countries. If we are successful, our businesses and our workers will continue to drive prosperity for Germans, for Americans, and in fact, for people throughout the world.

Remarks at the Global Business Conference, Berlin, Germany