Archive for the ‘Trade Agreements’ Category

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Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

February 24, 2015
Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

 

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined a bipartisan roundtable at the White House on the importance of trade and new trade agreements. The meeting was part of the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington. NGA is the bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors, and its members include the 55 states, territories and commonwealths of the United States.

Governors John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia attended the roundtable, along with Secretary Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and White House officials.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker highlighted how trade has helped drive the nation’s economic recovery and proven beneficial to state’s economies. For example, more than 5,000 Colorado businesses, both large and small, are counted among the ranks of America’s exporters. Exports from Virginia to our free trade agreement partners have grown by 74 percent over the past 10 years, and in Ogden, Utah, exports drove more than 100 percent of growth out of the recession.

Overall, exports support 11.3 million American jobs – which pay up to 18 percent higher than jobs not related to exports. In addition, the Commerce Department announced earlier this month that American exports had hit an all-time high for the fifth year running – sending $2.35 trillion worth of goods and services overseas.

That is why the Obama Administration has set an ambitious trade agenda focused on building on this progress. It will ensure U.S. businesses in every state can access more global markets with fewer barriers.

This agenda includes the completion and implementation of new trade agreements including the Trans Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other nations. Once completed, TPP will give American businesses free trade arrangements with 40 percent of global GDP.

Secretary Pritzker stressed to the attending governors that in today’s global economy, American prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and new customers beyond our borders. Today’s roundtable gave Secretary Pritzker an opportunity to urge the nation’s governors to support trade policies like TPP, and explain why they are essential to the growth of the economy, to the creation of good jobs, to the economic security of American families, and to the competitiveness of our businesses.

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One Year Later, Look South Looking Brighter

January 9, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Joe Matthews recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

As yet another polar vortex bears down on much of the United States, we in the trade community can still find some sunshine in the fresh trade data through November 2014. Our export numbers are up globally, and some bright spots are appearing for trade with our friends to the south one year after launching the Look South initiative — they include:

  • U.S. goods exports to Look South markets (our 11 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner countries in Latin America) increased by $16.0 billion through November 2014, which accounts for more than one-third of the increase in U.S. global exports over the same period in 2013.
  • Despite most being small- and medium-sized economies, these 11 trade partners represent 20.3 percent of total U.S. good exports through November 2014, up from 16.7 percent in 2009.
  • In 2012 (the latest data available), more than 89,000 American companies exported to Look South markets. This is an increase of more than 2,600 from 2011.
  • In particular, Mexico stands out as an excellent place for U.S. companies to look for new opportunities as 1,700 of those 2,600 new firms entered the Mexican market.

Mexico is one hot destination, as goods exported to Mexico rose more than $13 billion through November 2014, an increase of 6.5 percent.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Mexico’s economic growth at 3.5 percent in 2015, which is a sizeable increase from the IMF’s 2014 prediction of 2.4 percent and bodes well for U.S. exports.

Colombia is an emerging export market thanks to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement that entered into force in 2012. U.S. exports to Colombia have increased by $1.8 billion through November 2014, a 10.8 percent increase over the same period 2013. Colombia was also a recent winner in the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business reports, jumping from 53 to 34 to take the top spot for all of Latin America.

The popularity of Latin American FTA markets as export destinations is heightened by improvements in economic growth. According to IMF estimates, in 2014, the top four economic growth performers in the region are Panama, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Colombia, three of which have FTAs with the United States. Strong growth in both the United States and these countries will positively affect one another, helping encourage trade.

Through November 2014, our progress with the Look South Initiative shines. So grab your warm weather gear and Look South for bright new opportunities—don’t forget your shades!

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Automotive Exports to Latin American Free Trade Agreement Partners on the Rise

August 14, 2014

Leif Anderson recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

The DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Free Trade Agreements Conference in Detroit will be a premier event for any business looking to expand exports in free trade markets.

This is especially true for U.S. auto exporters who are looking for new opportunities in increasingly attractive free trade markets in Latin America.

Mexico is the largest growing U.S. auto/auto parts export market in the world, with growth of $8.2 billion from 2009 to 2013 – that’s a 13 percent annual increase.

Mexico recently passed Brazil as the top Latin American car producer, increasing demand for automobile parts from the United States.

Robots In a Car Factory

The DISCOVER: Free Trade Agreements forum will be a great event for U.S. auto exporters.

Auto parts/supplies exports to other Latin American markets have also grown since 2009:

  • Chile – 15.3 percent,
  • Colombia – 14.7 percent,
  • Peru – 16.2 percent,
  • Dominican Republic – 10 percent, and
  • Panama – 9.2 percent.

This growth can be largely attributed to strengthening free trade agreements in the region which have reduced or eliminated most import taxes on U.S. products. These markets also have vibrant middle classes and industrial demand.

The DISCOVER: Free Trade Agreements event will be a great event for U.S. auto exporters looking to expand in these markets.

The event features insights from some of the most successful exporters in the industry, including:

  • Mustafa Mohatarem, Chief Economist at General Motors, and
  • Michael S. Sheridan, Director of Global Trade Strategy with the Ford Motor Company.

The Federal Government is also supporting U.S. exporters expanding into Latin American free trade markets through the Look South campaign.

Businesses can find best prospect automotive industry market snapshots cutting across eight of our eleven Look South free trade agreement partner countries – along with similar market research on 20-plus industry sectors.

Looking forward, growing demand and fewer trade barriers have made this region an ideal destination for any the products of any U.S. business. We encourage you to start taking advantage of this great opportunity.

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Discover the Best Ways to Take Advantage of U.S. Free Trade Agreements

August 11, 2014

Peggy Pauley and Brian Miller are Senior International Trade Specialists in Louisville, Kentucky.

Members of a Nigerian business delegation meet with US commercial specialitst.

The DISCOVER event in Detroit will feature delegations from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Morocco to discuss potential business opportunities.

When it comes to supporting U.S. exporters, there are few better tools than free trade agreements (FTAs).

These agreements decrease or eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers, lowering the hurdles to exporting. Exports to our FTA partners are up 57 percent since 2009, and comprise 46 percent of total U.S. goods exports.

For businesses ready to expand their exports to U.S. free trade partners, the U.S. Commercial Service is hosting the DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Free Trade Agreements Business Forum in Detroit, September 9-10th.

The Forum features a number of programs to support attendees looking to increase their exports, including:

  • Pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with U.S. commercial diplomats from 18 free trade markets;
  • Delegations of public and private sector companies from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Morocco, and Honduras who are looking for potential business partners;
  • Networking opportunities throughout the conference; and
  • Dynamic market exploration sessions.

Register for Discover: Free Trade Agreements

We’ll also have speakers from companies that have set the standard for exporting, including:

  • Romaine Seguin, President, UPS Americas Region;
  • Michael Sheridan, Director, Global Trade Strategy & Policy, Ford Motor Company; and,
  • Mustafa Mohatarem, Chief Economist, General Motors.

For any business looking to export, free trade markets present an excellent opportunity. The DISCOVER: Free Trade Agreements event will give your business the insight and contacts necessary to get started.

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Energized by the Baltic Region

February 25, 2014

Matthew Murray is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe, Middle East and Africa. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Murray spoke to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia about trans-Atlantic trade.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Murray spoke to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia about trans-Atlantic trade.
(photo courtesy AmCham Estonia)

I believe in the power of trade and investment. These are key components to a strong bilateral relationship, and they have the power to strengthen important bonds between countries.

By working with the regions of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, my team and I can focus on some of the United States’ cornerstone partnerships. Even with countries that are considered small in terms of population size or territorial expanse, our commercial relationships create jobs, support development, and foster shared ideals of entrepreneurial support and innovation.

In the dynamic markets of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, there is more potential for economic and job growth than one may otherwise expect. I strongly believe that establishing synergies between U.S. and Baltic companies will forge cutting-edge business partnerships that lead to new, dynamic jobs for all countries involved.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement currently under negotiation between the United States and the European Union (EU) is a vital tool for deepening U.S. commercial ties to the Baltic region. The partnerships will create new opportunities for U.S. and Baltic companies to export their goods and services to the larger, transatlantic marketplace.

I recently traveled to Estonia and Lithuania in pursuit of input from U.S., Estonian, and Lithuanian businesses, as to how the United States and the EU should advance TTIP negotiations in 2014. To amplify the message of the September Baltic Summit here in Washington, I emphasized the critical role Baltic companies play as TTIP stakeholders.

Baltic business leaders are setting a world standard in innovation and in a start-up business culture. They are participating in the global marketplace, sharing their products and best practices, and investing in markets like the United States. We welcome their investment and their contributions to the global marketplace.

As the region advances its infrastructure to accelerate development, American businesses are ready to support this growth with unmatched global experience and expertise. Infrastructure developments will allow the region to accelerate its development.

Infrastructure developments also help attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the region. Kinze, a U.S. agricultural equipment manufacturer, is one such company that chose to invest in Lithuania as a manufacturing hub. Increased FDI is an important development in our bilateral relationship, a topic about which you can read further in this translated interview I conducted with the Lithuanian business publication, Verslo zinios.

As the U.S. commercial relationship within the Baltic region progresses, our team is standing by to support American businesses interested in or already operating in the Baltic region. Please contact Jen Levine, Commerce’s Nordic Baltic Trade Specialist in Washington to link you with commercial opportunities in the Baltic and Nordic region.

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How New Legislation will Support Our Textile Industry

October 9, 2012

Kim Glas is the deputy assistant secretary for textiles and apparel within the International Trade Administration’s Import Administration division.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Glas and Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez tour Unifi's sewing thread manufacturing facility in Yadkinville, North Carolina on October 9, 2012.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Glas and Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez tour Unifi’s sewing thread manufacturing facility in Yadkinville, North Carolina on October 9, 2012.

I am visiting North Carolina today with the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez to see first-hand two state of the art textile companies – Unifi and A&E. Recently, President Obama signed into law an important set of technical fixes to the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Agreement that will have a direct impact on jobs at these two companies and sewing thread manufacturers across this state and country.

When the Agreement with our Central American neighbors was negotiated in 2003, there was a definitional loophole that incentivized the use of non-U.S. sewing thread in the assembly of textile and apparel products. As a result of this loophole, U.S. sewing thread manufacturers have seen their business and employment shrink. The Obama Administration immediately set out to address a problem that severely impacted U.S. sewing thread manufacturers.

After years of hard work, President Obama recently signed legislation to close a loophole that has jeopardized businesses and jobs in the U.S. As a result, on Saturday, October 13th, these fixes will be implemented and will have a direct impact on many sewing thread manufacturers in North Carolina. We have every expectation that once the legislation is implemented that U.S. sewing thread producers like Unifi and A&Ewill be able to recapture market share in the critical market.

This is a prime example of what can be accomplished when industry, Congress, and the Administration work toward a common goal.

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A Primer on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC

August 8, 2012

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Tyler Voorhees is working in the Office of Public Affairs at the International Trade Administration for the summer. He is starting his senior year at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

We hope you enjoyed our month of covering transportation related exports in July. We talked about everything from the Farnborough Air Show to how remanufactured goods (including autos) can save your wallet and the environment.

During August, we will be highlighting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. APEC may not be a familiar topic outside international trade circles; however, it plays a vital role in the U.S. economy.

Under Secretary Sanchez (left) making remarks on innovation and Intellectual Property Rights at APEC St. Petersburg. (Photo APEC)

Under Secretary Sanchez (left) making remarks on innovation and Intellectual Property Rights at APEC St. Petersburg. (Photo APEC)

APEC was founded in 1989 to promote trade liberalization in the Asia-Pacific Region. Today, APEC has 21 members, including the United States and some of its largest trading partners such as Canada, Mexico, China and Japan. Together, the region is home to 40 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for approximately 54 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 44 percent of world trade.

Originally, APEC was founded because of the growing interdependence of Pacific Rim economies. Over the past two decades, this interdependence has only increased, giving the organization growing importance each year. The broad goal of APEC is to decrease trade and investment barriers, facilitate business in the region while working to raise living standards across the region through sustainable economic growth and ultimately lead to a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

Between 1989 and 1992, APEC met at a senior official and Ministerial level. In 1993, President Bill Clinton established the practice of an annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Since then, APEC leaders have gathered annually during “Leader’s Week” to meet and discuss economic and trade issues in the region.  In 2011, the U.S. hosted the APEC meetings on a variety of topics ranging from addressing business ethics and standards to small and medium-enterprise growth and women’s issues.

Last year, Leader’s Week took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. This year, Russia is set to host the meeting in Vladivostok, the largest Russian port in the Pacific. There have been several ministerial meetings throughout the year, but Leader’s Week is scheduled to take place September 2-9.

This year, Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez led the U.S Delegation to the Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SME) Ministerial Meeting in St. Petersburg on August 3rd. There, he discussed the importance of SMEs to economic growth and international trade. Make sure to follow our blog for a  report of the SME meetings.

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Growth Opportunities for U.S.-Colombia Textile Trade

May 21, 2012

Laurie Mease is a Business & Industry Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA).  Richard Stetson is an International Trade Specialist with OTEXA.

Yarn and fabric trade between the United States and Colombia has grown by more than 30 percent since 2002. And with the recent implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, this figure is destined to grow in the coming years.

In 2008, we had the opportunity to visit Medellín, Colombia to participate in the Colombiatex trade show. We visited eight manufacturing facilities and were impressed with the diversity, sophistication, and maturity of the Colombian textile and apparel industry. We observed significant capital investment in machinery and technology. Many of the manufacturers have operations which encompass all of the necessary manufacturing processes under one roof: they spin yarn, knit and weave fabric, and assemble apparel. Unlike most of the textiles and apparel produced in Central America and the Caribbean, the majority of Colombia’s products are intended for sale in Colombia’s domestic market or for export to Venezuela, Mexico, and other markets in Latin America.

Related:

U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Now in Force!

Yarn loaded in production machinery at Fabricato, a Medellin-based textile manufacturer. (Photo Colombiatex)

Yarn loaded in production machinery at Fabricato, a Medellin-based textile manufacturer. (Photo Colombiatex)

Many of Colombia’s textile and apparel inputs, including fibers, yarns, and fabrics, are purchased from U.S. suppliers. Until the entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), these inputs have been subject to duties of up to 20 percent, with the exception of inputs used in apparel qualifying for trade preferences under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). With the TPA in place, tariffs will be eliminated, reducing costs, and providing greater incentive for Colombian firms to buy U.S. fibers, yarns, and fabrics and for U.S. firms to invest in Colombia.  It’s a win-win for both the U.S. and Colombian textile and apparel industries.

In addition to duty-free benefits, the TPA contains several important flexibilities and protections to make sure that the U.S. industry is not harmed by the flow of imports from Colombia. For example, the TPA contains a textile-specific safeguard mechanism that allows most favored nation (MFN) tariffs to be temporarily re-imposed if a surge in duty-free imports from Colombia is shown to be causing or threatening to cause serious damage to domestic industry. The TPA also includes specific customs cooperation language for enforcing measures affecting trade in textile and apparel goods to help prevent the circumvention of the agreement’s rules on the origin of inputs and finishing processes.

As the TPA enters into force, we’re already starting to see signs of growth in U.S. textile and apparel sales to Colombia. U.S. exports of textiles and apparel to Colombia in 2011 were up 33 percent over 2010, with exports totaling $165 million in 2011.  Exports should further increase over the next few years due to the immediate duty-free market access for all qualifying textile and apparel goods entering Colombia under the TPA.  U.S. textile producers will have more opportunities than ever before to sell their goods in the Colombian market.

On the flip side, apparel imports from Colombia have been declining since 2005.  There are several possible explanations for this decline, including the end of global quotas for textile and apparel goods in 2005, the global economic downturn of 2008/2009, and, most recently, the uncertainties surrounding sourcing from Colombia.  Between the ATPDEA being enacted and terminated five times, and the stalled and unknown implementation date of the TPA, U.S. importers have been hesitant to source from Colombia.  With the implementation of the TPA on May15, no expiration date for duty-free benefits, and certain beneficial textile provisions, we expect sourcing of apparel from Colombia to gradually increase.

There is a wealth of information available on our website for companies interested in taking advantage of the new sales opportunities offered by the U.S.-Colombia TPA. Please visit our website or contact us via email OTEXA_Colombia@trade.gov with any questions.

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U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Now in Force!

May 15, 2012

Christopher Blaha is a Senior International Economist within the Office of Trade and Policy Analysis and Julie Anglin is the Colombia Desk Officer within the International Trade Administration.

Today more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia become duty-free as part of the U.S. – Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. This includes agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment, and wood. Also, more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon, and almost all fruit and vegetable products.

Related:

Growth Opportunities for U.S.-Colombia Textile Trade

The agreement also provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. For example, Colombia agreed to eliminate measures that prevented firms from hiring U.S. professionals, and to phase-out market restrictions in cable television.

Prior to the enactment of this agreement, the average tariff that U.S. manufactured goods faced entering Colombia was 10.8 percent. With entry into force today, Colombia’s average tariff rate for manufactured goods from the United States has been reduced to 4 percent.

Colombia Snapshot

Colombia’s 2012 real GDP growth is forecasted at 4.7 percent by the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, remaining around 4.5 percent through 2017.

Colombia’s demand for imports has soared since 2001.  Colombia’s merchandise imports from the world have more than quadrupled over that period climbing from $12.8 billion in 2001 to $54.7 billion in 2011.

The United States remains the largest supplier to the Colombian market, with Colombian imports from the U.S. in 2011 totaling $13.7 billion, or one-quarter of Colombia’s imports.

Imports from the United States in 2011 were led by mineral fuels, machinery, aircraft and organic chemicals. Those four categories accounted for over half of Colombia’s imports from the U.S.

Other top Colombian import markets include China, Mexico and Brazil. The U.S. is the largest market for Colombia’s exports, representing nearly 40 percent of the Colombian export market.

The impact of the tariff reductions of U.S. exports to Colombia will be immediate for many products; including recreational vehicles, like motorcycles and pleasure boats (Colombia’s average tariff on U.S. exports will be reduced from 13.7 percent to 5.4 percent today) and agricultural equipment, like tractors and harvesters (Colombia’s average tariff will be reduced from 10.8 percent to 3.1 percent today). This will make U.S. manufactured products much more competitive and could also potentially boost sales.

The economies of the United States and Colombia are largely complementary in terms of the goods each exports to the other. For example, Colombia is a large importer of grains from the United States while it exports a number of tropical fruits to our country. In addition, U.S. cotton, yarn and fabric exports to Colombia are used in many apparel items that Colombia exports to the United States.

Facts about U.S. – Colombia Trade:

  • Between 2001 and 2011 U.S. goods exports to Colombia quadrupled, growing from $3.6 billion in 2001 to $14.3 billion in 2011. U.S. goods exports in 2011 were 19 percent higher than the previous year.
  • Colombia has grown from being the 33rd largest market for U.S. goods exports in 1991 to become the 22nd largest market in 2011.
  • Manufactured goods represented 92 percent of U.S. goods exports to Colombia in 2011.
  • Increasing exports to Colombia has benefits at the local level as well as the national. In 2011, more than half of U.S. States (26 total) reported merchandise export shipments to Colombia above $75 million.
  • In 2011, the largest state exporters of merchandise to Colombia included Texas ($5.1 billion), Florida ($2.8 billion), Louisiana ($894 million), California ($534 million) and Illinois ($454 million).
  • Houston and Miami are also major metropolitan area exporters to Colombia.

The provisions of the agreement and the resulting tariff cuts present new opportunities for U.S. companies and give U.S. exporters an advantage over exporters from Colombia’s non-FTA partners. The International Trade Administration maintains a database that helps exporters monitor when tariffs on specific products go to zero. The FTA Tariff Tool currently has information relating to manufactured products.

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Asia Pacific Business Outlook: Twenty Five Years and Many More Opportunities

March 27, 2012

This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the information available to participants in the 2012 Asia Pacific Business Outlook (APBO)

Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

This is my second year keynoting the 25-year old USC Marshall School’s Asia Pacific Business Outlook (APBO) Conference. It was great to see the diversity of participants, from representatives of businesses across the United States, as well as non-profit organizations, chambers of commerce, and trade associations from both the United States and countries in Asia and Latin America.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaks during the APBO Conference

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaks during the APBO Conference (Photo USC Marshall School of Business)

It seems as though it’s also a reunion and convergence of sorts of 16 Senior Commercial Officers (SCOs) from Asia and local Commercial Service trade specialists. For the first time, we have the SCOs from Brazil and Russia joining the conference, contributing their insider knowledge and providing market briefings in one-on-one counseling sessions.

During my address yesterday, I was able to outline our ongoing priorities here at the International Trade Administration and across the Obama Administration as well as provide updates on some major accomplishments achieved in the past few years.

This month marks the two-year anniversary of the President’s National Export Initiative and good things are happening. Last year, U.S. exports surpassed $2 trillion for the first time in history. They supported nearly 10 million jobs, an increase of more than a million when compared to 2009 numbers. So the formula is pretty clear: exports benefit jobs, businesses and the national economy. That’s why we’ve got to continue to increase U.S. exports.

One of the areas with the greatest potential for this work is the Asia-Pacific region. It represents 55 percent of global GDP and accounts for 44 percent of world trade. And all of us at the Commerce Department are committed to keeping the U.S.- Asia-Pacific partnership growing — both through our words and our work.

Last year, I led the largest-ever higher-education mission to Indonesia and Vietnam. I visited Hong Kong and China last fall. And, earlier this month I was in Japan and Vietnam a second time to advance commercial relations. Our work in this region is a priority for us. And good things are happening.

U.S. goods exports to the broader Asia-Pacific totaled nearly $900 billion in 2011, a 15 percent increase from 2010. This is equal to 60 percent of total U.S. goods exports to the world. This partnership is generating benefits for all sides. This means jobs and growth for the American economy. In turn, U.S. products and services are helping to fuel the economic development in the Asia Pacific.

These have been win-win partnerships. Now, we’re focused on producing even more wins. To do this, the Administration is working from the policy level to the community level. For instance, one win came recently when the U.S.- Korea Trade Agreement took effect.

Before, in a variety of sectors, U.S. companies had to pay a tariff rate to sell their goods and services in Korea. Now, many of these same companies can enter the market duty-free. Almost 80 percent of American exports of industrial products to Korea will enter without getting taxed. Estimates are that this will lead to roughly $11 billion in additional U.S. exports. It will also provide new opportunities in the 12th largest economy in the world. That’s a big win.

Another win involves the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As many of you know, it’s an ambitious, high-standard trade agreement for doing business in the Asia-Pacific. It seeks to address new and emerging trade issues and 21st-century challenges. Working with our colleagues at the Office of the United States Trade Representative — we are addressing traditional trade issues involving goods and services;  rules on intellectual property; and technical barriers to trade. And we are making progress. A TPP framework was agreed to in Honolulu at the APEC Leaders’ meeting in November. It was a landmark accomplishment. The agreement identified five central features that nations around the world are already viewing as a new standard for trade agreements.

The Commercial Officers from across Asia, Russia and Brazil as well as the domestic trade specialist stand ready to help U.S. businesses explore the possibilities that are out there. There were some great conversations today.
This is a chance to achieve common goals, such as creating more markets and customers for U.S. businesses, which can lead to more sales, which will boost U.S. exports, which supports jobs and strengthens the American economy. These are big goals that will make a big impact.

And I look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead to achieve these goals.

So let’s get the conversation started.