Francisco J. Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
Today I was in El Paso, Texas with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Alan Bersin, Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to highlight the importance of trade, border security, and the Border Export Strategy.
The International Trade Administration recently launched the Border Export Strategy (BES), which is a priority component of the National Export Initiative, which seeks to double exports from the U.S. by 2015 to support several million jobs.
The City of El Paso is an important gateway between the United States and Mexico, and total merchandise trade that passed through the El Paso district in 2010 amounted to $71.1 billion. More than 80 percent of this trade passed through the port of El Paso.
This strategy is designed to increase the export potential and opportunities for U.S. companies doing business along the shared Canadian and Mexican borders.
We are striving to enhance local public-private trade collaboration and support efforts to reduce trade barriers limiting secure and efficient commerce across our borders.
Despite security challenges in the border region, NAFTA trade statistics show a 29 percent increase in total trade between the U.S. and Mexico from 2009-2010. In addition to close collaboration on security and infrastructure issues in the interagency process, the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security are working together to identify other potential areas for collaboration on U.S. exports. Potential areas include issues related to the Foreign Trade Zones, a review of the targeting efforts for goods and travelers, and technical assistance to other countries in the world, where customs operations are problematic for exporters and need to be modernized.
The City of El Paso sponsors a foreign-trade zone (FTZ) that is currently used by 19 different companies. In 2010, the El Paso FTZ handled $7.3 billion in merchandise – including $1.7 billion in exports – with more than 900 workers employed by the companies using the FTZ. The Foreign Trade Zone program is just one of the ways in which we can boost employment, manufacturing, and exports from the United States.
As we move forward with the implementation of the BES, I look forward to close collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the City of El Paso.
The U.S.-Mexico border is not a border economy. It is a vital part of the national economy of both nations, and I, for my part, will do what it takes to preserve, protect it and grow it.