Riverside County World Trade & Investment Summit 2013 - Introduction to Keynote Speech
Lake Elsinore, California
The Honorable Leocadia I. Zak, Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency
June 6, 2013 — Thank you, Kevin, for that kind introduction. Again, I am honored to have been asked to join you and your fellow Supervisors for today's Summit. I am looking forward to hearing from Ambassador De La Vega Barber, Mr. Fraser, Ms. Chow, Mr. Stangarone, Ms. Brooks and Mr. Josephson.
The Riverside County Office of Foreign Trade asked me to talk about two things today: the current export climate, and what my Agency does to support U.S. exports.
I am very excited to be back here in California – especially in Riverside. California is USTDA's #1 export state. What that means is that our Agency has entered into more activities with California businesses than companies from any other state. As a matter of fact, on my most recent trip to China, the signings seemed to be dominated by California companies. These ranged across sectors, from a grant for intelligent transportation systems to contracts supporting energy smart grid development.
It is clear that not only is USTDA focused on export opportunities for California, but your state and local leadership continues to recognize the importance of trade promotion. My trip to China overlapped with Governor Jerry Brown's participation in a trade and investment mission there. At the beginning of the mission, Governor Brown and the Chinese Minister of Commerce signed an historic agreement to form strategic relationships between California and China. The agreement established a working group that will facilitate the regular exchange of information by organizing trade missions and annual seminars on investment cooperation. In fact, to implement a portion of this agreement, USTDA will be bringing two reverse trade missions from China to California this year. The first mission, which will focus on green ports, will take place in Long Beach in mid-July.
I commend Governor Brown for focusing on export opportunities, and the Riverside County Office of Foreign Trade for hosting this event. As we have seen in recent years, domestic business alone is not enough to sustain the American economy. Competitors for U.S. businesses are no longer just across town – they are across the world. And so is the market: 95% of the world's consumers live outside our borders, and the International Monetary Fund is projecting that 85% of the world's growth through 2018 will occur outside the U.S.
In light of these new realities, in 2010, President Obama launched a government-wide initiative, which our Agency is a part of, to promote exports. He challenged us to grow U.S. exports to $3.14 trillion and to add two million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014. There is no doubt it was an ambitious goal, but we are seeing tremendous results: U.S. exports hit an all-time record of $2.2 trillion last year, and American jobs supported by exports increased to 9.8 million in 2012, an increase of over a million jobs since 2009. This is particularly important because trade-supported jobs have historically paid more.
California has been a major player in foreign trade, exporting over $150 billion worth of merchandise and almost $90 billion worth of services last year. The Riverside area has contributed significantly to these successes. According to the International Trade Administration, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area was the 40th largest export market in the U.S. in 2011. As you probably know, last year, Global Trade magazine named Riverside one of the top 50 American cities for global trade. Congratulations!
With numbers like these, it is easy to see why California and USTDA have long been trusted partners. Since the Agency's creation in 1992, we have engaged in over 200 activities with California companies, helping them to generate over $1 billion in exports. And, as I will highlight later, some of our most successful ventures have been with companies here in Southern California. As I mentioned when we signed the partnership agreement, I am confident that USTDA's new partnership with the County's Office of Foreign Trade will build upon Riverside's recent successes in overseas markets. The achievements you have made since the Board of Supervisors first established the Office of Foreign Trade in 2009 are truly impressive. I commend the Board for their leadership and foresight, and congratulate the Office of Foreign Trade for its recognition from the National Association of Counties as being at the forefront of engagement in international relations and trade policies.
Even with this impressive track record, I am here to encourage you to look beyond your traditional trading partners to the tremendous opportunities that exist in other emerging markets. There are countless opportunities for U.S businesses in developing and middle-income countries, whose economies are growing three times faster than our own. In places like India, for example, growth is forecasted to reach nearly six percent this year. Seven of the world's 10 fastest growing economies are located in Africa, and Colombia's middle class has doubled in the past decade.
Not only do consumers in these markets want to buy U.S. products, but their leaders understand that the large-scale development projects that will support their economic growth will be more successful if they partner with American companies to implement them.
Therefore, I am here to tell you how USTDA may be able to help connect you to projects like these.
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