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World Trade Month: The Importance of Global Trade  

May 2, 2016

Stefan M. Selig is the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

World Trade Month logo

Every year, World Trade Month—designated for the month of May—gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of global trade, and look back at the economic advancements we have made as a result. This World Trade Month, we can look back and appreciate the success we have accomplished.

In 2015, our exports totaled $2.23 trillion, we increased our exports to 58 international markets, and we achieved record exports with 20 global partners. Our export success was one aspect of a strong year for the U.S. economy where our auto industry experienced its best year ever and our manufacturing sector reached record highs for output. Exports also contributed to our economy, supporting 11.5 million U.S. jobs and accounting for nearly 13 percent of U.S. GDP. In addition, last year, U.S. services exports tallied another strong year. In fact, business services; telecommunications, computer and information services; and travel all reached export increases of more than $1 billion.

Because we have an economic landscape where trade and investment drive growth, the mission of the International Trade Administration (ITA) is even more important than it has been before. With more than 95 percent of the world’s customers living outside of our borders, trade and investment are a platform for our country to deliver our goods and services to global consumers. A robust export environment also attracts and encourages foreign companies to invest in the most innovative, productive workforce in the world: the United States of America.

These are just some of the reasons why we worked to complete the negotiation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and are working on finalizing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations. A world with both TPP and T-TIP will create a free-trade zone representing more than 60 percent of global GDP, while leveling the playing field for U.S. firms.

Throughout World Trade Month, events across the country are being held to recognize the importance of exporting to jobs and our economy. On May 16th, several U.S. companies will be in Washington, DC to receive the President’s “E” Award in recognition of their contribution to increasing American exports through selling high-quality products and services. During World Trade Week (May 16-20), ITA will lead two missions: a renewable energy trade mission to Mexico and a business development mission to the South Pacific. And, on May 25th, the Department of Commerce will partner with the Global Innovation Forum—a project of the National Foreign Trade Council—for an educational program at Microsoft Ventures in Seattle as a part of our Startup Global program, an initiative designed to help more startup firms think on a global scale from the earliest stages of growth.

Many other events will be held as a part of World Trade Month. I encourage you to follow ITA on Twitter @TradeGov where many of these events will be highlighted. Additionally, as a part of World Trade Month, we will launch our new Instagram account @IntlTrade at the beginning of this month.

ITA is charged with helping U.S. businesses and workers succeed in the global marketplace. Our U.S.-based export assistance centers in more than 100 cities, and our foreign commercial service offices in more than 75 markets around the world, help U.S. businesses tap into global markets in ways they may not have been able to otherwise.

Our client services are precisely why Kentucky-based Zoeller company, the oldest professional pump manufacturer in North America, found a distributor that helped them deliver their systems across sub-Saharan Africa; why Zee Manufacturing out of Des Moines Iowa, was able to ship its automotive accessory products into the Saudi Arabian market; and, why Stress Indicators of Maryland is shipping their visual-indicating SmartBolts to more than 20 countries all over the world, while seeing their revenue growth rate double since 2010.

Thanks to all of the U.S. exporters who continue to advance our competitiveness within the global marketplace. We honor you during this year’s World Trade Month for your relentless commitment and effort.

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