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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Remarks at Meeting of the President’s Export Council

Thursday, December 11, 2014
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Good morning again, everyone. Thank you Jim McNerney, Ursula Burns, and members of the President’s Export Council for joining us today.  I want to thank you all, and I applaud your ongoing work to advance our shared agenda to increase exports for American businesses and strengthen the American economy. As I said earlier, this group is an essential piece of the Administration’s vision of commercial diplomacy.

Many of you joined me on an economic fact-finding mission to Poland and Turkey earlier this year. This trip was about putting our business leaders on the field to help advance our strategic and economic interests.  We joined together to deliver a message to Polish and Turkish leaders about the need to reform; to create a level playing field for businesses; to open their doors to more American exports – and, in the process, to a more robust commercial relationship with the United States. That message was far more powerful and far more effective coming not only from me or any government official, but from you, our business leaders, as well.

This trip was an opportunity to showcase YOUR ability to work with the government to promote reform and create new opportunities for our businesses around the world.  I look forward to continuing this work with all of you. 

As we begin today’s meeting, I want to briefly update you on the new phase of the National Export Initiative – or NEI NEXT. Early in this Administration, President Obama created the NEI to spur economic growth and job creation. , Through this effort, for the first time, we brought the full suite of federal resources to bear to help U.S. businesses drive exports. As Jim mentioned, the NEI has produced remarkable results: we are on-track for a fifth straight record-breaking year of exports. According to the latest trade data released last week, U.S. exports of goods and services increased by more than $2 billion from month to month.

This kind of continued export growth benefits our economy at a macro level, but it also improves the lives and livelihoods of individuals across our country. Indeed, every morning, 11.3 million Americans go to work in jobs supported by exports. Let me put a finer point on this: whenever we open new markets to American products and services, YOUR companies grow, and our nation’s workers and families are better off.

Earlier this year, we introduced NEI NEXT to build on the progress we have made to date.  NEI NEXT was heavily shaped by PEC recommendations and feedback from thousands of customers and partners. It will fundamentally change the way the U.S. government helps American companies expand their exports and their global footprint.  NEI NEXT is our blueprint to help ensure that more American businesses of all sizes can start sending their goods and services beyond our borders and fully capitalize on markets opening up across the globe.

The agencies here today have made an ambitious set of NEI NEXT commitments. They include:

  • Providing customized and focused assistance for businesses, including those in emerging industries;
  • Streamlining export-related services and reporting requirements and processes;
  • Working to expand access to financing;
  • Partnering with states and communities to foster local trade and investment business support networks; and
  • Carrying out our trade agenda by ensuring access to foreign markets and facilitating a level playing field abroad.

The recommendations that you have provided over the past four years have guided our work. To highlight a few key examples:

  • The PEC has prioritized improvement of data. Under NEI Next, we will supply American businesses with the information they need to make export decisions – by making data and market research more sharable and open, and working with partners to expand its distribution.
  • The PEC has reiterated the need for federal integration with state and regional export initiatives. Under NEI NEXT, we will make it easier for small businesses to access export-related assistance – by increasing our coordination with local trade and investment resources.
  • Most importantly, we will guide program improvements to better meet the export-related needs of small and medium-sized companies, which the PEC has made a priority from day one.

We are laser-focused on broadening the base of exporters and expanding U.S. export activity. Central to meeting that mission and the goals of NEI NEXT is a series of steps to strengthen our hand in markets around the world. Working with Congress, the U.S. Trade Representative, and business leaders, our practical and immediate tasks are clear: We must reauthorize the Export-Import Bank – a critical tool that better enables U.S. companies of all sizes to compete overseas. We must work with Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority – to empower the President to move forward on high-standard, broad-based regional agreements like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We must drive home the message of how these steps will expand exports, grow our economy, and create good jobs.

On each of these components of our agenda, we need your help. We need you to make the case that trade agreements can offer enormous benefits – especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises looking to tap into new markets.  Together with your efforts, we can help ensure that the tremendous benefits of international trade are more widely felt and understood.

Of course, I cannot talk about trade and exports without mentioning one of our country’s greatest exports: entrepreneurship. I recently traveled with the Vice President to Morocco for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. The Summit made this fact clear: the United States—and the Department of Commerce in particular—has a unique role to play in ensuring all entrepreneurs have access to the support structure necessary to help them thrive. We have a responsibility to share our expertise and our experience, and to show our partners worldwide what it takes to build an entrepreneurial society in their own communities.

One way we meet this charge is through a public-private partnership called the President’s Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship – or PAGE – which I am honored to chair. This initiative brings together 11 of America’s top entrepreneurs, who use their stories and knowledge to mentor and inspire young people and start-ups across our country and around the world. Three PAGE members accompanied me to Morocco – and I am pleased to tell you that we will soon expand the PAGE program to include more members.

Along with PAGE, the PEC’s recommendations to improve the business environment for entrepreneurs and innovators have provided us with ideas to help people turn their inventions into thriving businesses. I thank you for your continued focus on this topic, which contributes to the well-being of so many Americans and to the overall competitiveness of the United States as a whole.

Finally, next week I am heading to Chicago with Ambassador Froman to host the 25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings. Secretary Vilsack will also join us. The JCCT provides a framework for the U.S. and Chinese governments to discuss policy issues in the bilateral commercial relationship. This year’s program has been reimagined to facilitate increased participation by U.S. and Chinese businesses and greater interaction between our government and our businesses. For the first time, private sector leaders and government officials together will assemble around themes that are central to the U.S.-China commercial relationship – including investment, travel and tourism, economic leadership, and excess capacity.

I want to close by saying this: the President’s Export Council plays an invaluable role in guiding our country’s economic policy. This meeting is our chance to hear from you – about the issues I raised or any other pertinent challenges facing America’s companies and industries. And I look forward to your report and your recommendations about how to further expand exports and grow our economy.

Together, we will move the United States forward to greater success in our communities, greater growth at home, and a greater reach abroad.