Building it in America, Selling it Everywhere

December 21, 2011

Peter Perez is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing in the Manufacturing and Services division of the International Trade Administration

Commerce Sec. John Bryson speaks at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Policy Insiders breakfast. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Commerce Sec. John Bryson speaks at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Policy Insiders breakfast. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

I had the pleasure of attending the Secretary of Commerce John Bryson’s speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this past Thursday. Bryson laid out his plan for the Department, showing a strong focus on manufacturing exports as he begins his tenure as Secretary.

The phrase of the day, which in many ways embodies the goals of the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), was, “build it here and sell it everywhere”.  After more than 43 years of real-world manufacturing experience at C.G. Conn and Steinway & Sons, I am excited to see the manufacturing industry receive the attention it deserves. 

As the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing within ITA, enhancing America’s ability to “build it here and sell it everywhere” is something my colleagues and I work towards every day and I am excited about Commerce and the Administration’s renewed attention.

Secretary Bryson discussed three areas in particular – supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing U.S. exports and attracting more investment to American from all around the world – that will help the U.S. create jobs, rebuild the middle class, and ultimately build a foundation on which the economy can recover. ITA has the opportunity to be a key contributor to the success of Bryson’s three-part vision.


As the Secretary said, manufacturing is no longer about old assembly lines, but conceiving and creating innovative and advanced products. The manufacturing industry isn’t just responsible for building cutting-edge products, but the research and development that leads to the final form. In fact, manufacturing companies are responsible for 67 percent of all business research and development in America. The manufacturing sector not only provides more than 11 million Americans with jobs, but for every job inside a factory, at least two more are created outside of it. Our own Manufacturing Council considers the issues facing the success and growth of modern American manufacturing and has made recommendations regarding energy policy, workforce development and trade promotion policies.  


Possibly most encouraging, was Bryson’s concentration on efforts to expand American manufacturing businesses’ access and use of foreign markets. As Secretary Bryson mentioned, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S., yet only one percent of our businesses export. ITA works hard to assist businesses interested in exporting by simplifying the process. We provide services for exporting businesses including helping them find reliable export financing, connect them with opportune foreign markets and deal with often complicated foreign rules and regulations. The power of exports is evidenced by the success of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) which has already helped U.S. businesses increase exports 17 percent in 2010 and 16 percent so far in 2011.

Bryson also highlighted ITA’s continued effort to find creative ways to grow U.S. manufacturing businesses through international trade. The Global Buyers Initiative partners ITA’s Commercial Service unit, their foreign counterparts, and FedEx to match the shipping company’s foreign customers with U.S. suppliers. We eagerly await the results of our pilot programs currently being implemented in France, Canada, and South Korea and will hopefully expand the program worldwide in 2012.

The Secretary announced that not only will ITA and Commerce be looking to increase the number of countries we export our products to, but also intensify efforts on strong export growth markets such as China, Brazil, and India. As we hone in on these particular markets, we are reminded of the need to update our export control laws as well as be mindful of unfair overseas trade barriers. I agree with Secretary Bryson that it is imperative businesses are competing internationally on a level playing field and will flourish or flounder “based on the quality and cost of their goods and services.”

Foreign Investment

Bryson’s final area for growth is direct foreign investment. While direct foreign investment may mean bringing companies into America from outside our borders, it also means more American manufacturing jobs and exports. I applaud Secretary Bryson for recognizing the importance of attracting investments by using our already well-positioned foreign commercial service officers and better showcasing what we have to offer. Initiatives such as SelectUSA are already working to disseminate information and services to potential foreign investors. Through SelectUSA and other programs, ITA is continuing to work to ensure the world knows the United States is “open for business”.

You can read the full text of Secretary Bryson’s speech here.


  1. There’s just one problem. For all the good things manufacturing exports do – increase world trade, readjust America’s trade imbalance, open new and dynamic markets for US businesses – they don’t create a whole lot of jobs.

  2. Hard to see manufacturing growth in the US, at least anything significant. When US companies can pay so much less for labor overseas, why would they set up in the US where it costs more? Unless their competitors did likewise they couldn’t compete.

    This post says “exports are the most encouraging” (of manuf., export and foreign investment). Maybe.

    It just seems there have to be solutions – but I don’t see how – until the public and private sectors are on the same page on how to restore American jobs.

  3. Despite the challenges facing the US, the country should still strive to compete with other manufacturers across the globe. The basis of this competition should not revolve around cost of production or producing at the cheapest price, since this strategy will fail. Instead the US should compete on quality and innovation, two strengths that the US has exploited for many years.

  4. The only way we canincrease manufacturing is either hefty embargos or keep things like they are now where as the parts are made over seas then assembled here. Other than that the price costs between labor, taxes and pollution control price us out of the park.

  5. The on-line industry is a key example where the US has led the world in the terms of innovation and expertise, great examples are websites like Google and Facebook or products such as the i-pod. The US can reproduce this in other areas of the economy and compete on innovation rather than cost.

  6. We at Atlas Biomechanics rely on the US worker and have not been disappointed.
    Teri Green
    atlas biomechanics

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