Bryson Delivers Remarks at the Center for Strategic & International Studies

  U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks at the Center for Strategic & International Studies

Remarks Below


Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at “Strengthening U.S.-India Commercial Relations and the National Export Initiative” at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. He discussed the recent implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, as well as the Commerce Department’s role in supporting the President’s National Export Initiative.

Bryson focused on his recent infrastructure trade mission to India, where he met with government leaders to discuss ways to strengthen the commercial relationship between the two countries. As Bryson noted, India has ambitious plans to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure over the next five years. A main goal of the trade mission was to connect U.S. businesses with Indian firms to help India reach its development goals while creating jobs in both countries. Bryson highlighted a number of the announcements that came out of the week-long mission, for example: the renewal of the Commercial Dialogue, two U.S. Trade and Development Administration grants for smart grids and solar energy, and approval by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for $250 million in long-term financing for renewable energy and infrastructure projects.


  Remarks as prepared for delivery by Commerce Secretary John Bryson


Thank you, Dr. Hamre. Congratulations to CSIS on your 50th anniversary.  It’s an honor to be here with all of you—policy, business and thought leaders—whose ideas contribute significantly to shaping America’s foreign policy. 

I know that CSIS held a forum yesterday on global security – which is a central part of that.  This morning, I am pleased to turn our attention to another key element – and that is trade.

One of my top three priorities as Secretary of Commerce is increasing U.S. exports. And trade has been front-and-center over the past month.

The second anniversary of the National Export Initiative was one month ago today. The Korea trade agreement went into force a few days later. And I returned from my first trade mission as Commerce Secretary just last week.

I will briefly touch on the first two, and then give more attention to India.

As you know, the National Export Initiative – NEI – is a government-wide effort that the President launched two years ago.  It’s led by the Commerce Department, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. 

U.S. exports of goods and services hit an all-time record of $2.1 trillion last year. And just this morning, we announced that year-to-date exports for January and February of this year are up 8.5% over 2011.

In addition, our recent data show that export-supported jobs increased by 1.2 million from 2009 to 2011.  That’s particularly good news because export-related jobs pay higher than average.

But the fact is, many other countries now face their own additional economic challenges.  This could result in decreased demand for goods and services from countries like ours.

So we need to work harder than ever to empower more U.S. companies to start or increase their exports.

That’s exactly what we’re doing. I’ll give three examples:

First, the Commerce Department has led trade missions with over 1,000 U.S. companies over the last two years. We’re going to do yet more in the future – targeting sectors and markets that are poised for growth. 

Second, we are working with Congress right now to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.  Ex-Im is having its annual conference as we speak.  They just had a record year – supporting $41 billion in U.S. exports.  We need to make sure they can build on that.

Third, we are doing more to ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses.  The President recently announced that the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office will run the new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center.

We will link, leverage and align all of the enforcement resources across government.  We want to hire more experts, analysts, and foreign-based staff to help.

We need to hold our trading partners accountable to their commitments – including WTO rules.  And I strongly believe that when American businesses have a fair shot, they can compete and they can win.

A few days after the second anniversary of the NEI, we reached another milestone. The Korea trade agreement was implemented on March 15.

President Obama insisted that we get this agreement right.  The Administration worked with Congress, stakeholders, and our Korean counterparts to address outstanding issues before it went through.

As a result, we now have America’s most significant trade agreement in nearly two decades.  About 80% of Korea’s tariffs on our industrial products have dropped to zero. Nothing.
In addition, the agreement opens up Korea’s 580-billion-dollar services market…

It streamlines customs procedures. And it does more to protect the intellectual property of our entrepreneurs and businesses.

Overall, this is estimated to increase U.S. exports by over $10 billion, supporting tens of thousands of American jobs. 

Looking forward, we continue to move ahead with the Colombia and Panama agreements – and President Obama is heading to Colombia tomorrow.

Another potential win-win is the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Last week, President Obama and I discussed this with our counterparts from Canada and Mexico.  As you know, the TPP is a high-caliber agreement with big potential to be a model for the world. 

Finally, we are paying particular attention when significant and unique opportunities arise with other trading partners, which brings me to India.

Let me start by commending CSIS for making India a major focus.  In particular, I want to congratulate you on establishing the Wadhwani Chair, a position held by Ambassador Inderfurth.

I just returned last week from my first trade mission as Secretary – which was to India. 

On the day after we got back, the New York Times ran a story about India.  I thought it was spot-on.  It talked about how India’s business groups – specifically the top two which we met with on our trip – are forging ahead to establish both economic and diplomatic ties around the world.

How did India get to that point? 

We can trace this progress back to 1991, when then-Finance Minister Singh led a major shift to open up India’s economy to market forces and private-sector business.

As a result of his leadership, India’s entrepreneurial spirit was unleashed.  And, in recent years, India’s economy has grown quickly – at an annual rate of around 8 percent.

Since then, millions have been lifted out of poverty and India now has one of the largest middle-class populations on the planet.  

Looking forward, 68 cities in India will have populations of over 1 million in 20 years.  Total yearly income of urban households is expected to reach $4 trillion by 2030.

As a result of increased demand for innovative products and services, U.S. exports to India rose from less than $4 billion in 2001 to over $21 billion last year.

Today, we’re building on that momentum.  We’re bringing to fruition President Obama’s statement that the U.S.-India relationship is one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.

On the trade mission, I led 16 U.S. businesses to India that specialized in management, engineering services, transportation, and energy.  I should note that several of these business leaders were Indian-Americans who had strong personal motivations for using their skills in a meaningful way to help India grow and thrive.

Our goal was to find mutually-beneficial ways to help India move forward with its ambitious plan to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure over the next 5 years.

My message was simple: American companies have deep experience in building our own infrastructure here in the U.S.   We can work with India to accomplish its goals – while creating more prosperity and jobs in both countries.

We started in New Delhi, where I outlined how American companies can help pave the roads, lay the rails, build the airports, and bring energy to more people in India. 

Among others, I met with Minister Sharma and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Ahluwahlia.  We announced that we renewed our Commercial Dialogue which will continue to bring together our public and private sector leaders. 

Moving forward, the Dialogue will focus on areas such as smart grids, intelligent transportation systems, and sustainable manufacturing. 

And I should note that the U.S. Trade and Development Administration announced two grants in New Delhi in smart grids and solar energy.

After New Delhi, I became the first U.S. Commerce Secretary to ever visit Jaipur – one of India’s fast growing cities. 

Rajasthan tells a unique economic story.  The city has a history and a beauty that has made it a hub for tourism. But today, it is finding a path to attract broader investments from companies like Mahindra and through major projects like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

I should note that when the NEI began, the Commerce Department looked for the next tier of fast-growing global cities.  Cities throughout India quickly became our focus, which was a major reason for our stop in Jaipur.

As a side note, has anyone here heard of Jaipur Foot?
I saw first-hand how Indian and U.S. entrepreneurs and universities are collaborating to drive innovation.  This includes low-cost, high-quality artificial limbs that have transformed people’s lives in India and beyond.

Finally, in Mumbai, we met with some of India’s top business leaders to discuss mutually-beneficial partnerships and opportunities. 

I was pleased to announce that our partners at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation had just approved $250 million in long-term financing for India.  This will focus on renewable energy and infrastructure projects through the Infrastructure Development Finance Company in India.

I also spoke with the newly-formed U.S.-India Investors Forum.  We discussed the importance of moving forward with efforts such as a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which could provide greater stability for investors in both countries.

And I’d like to expand for a moment on the importance of increasing direct investment in the U.S. – another top priority for the Commerce Department.

Just like trade, our bilateral investment relationships should be both strong and balanced.

India provides a good example of where we should focus.  U.S. investment in India is over $27 billion while India’s investment here is about $7 billion. 

Today, we are hearing more and more stories of Indian investment in the U.S.

For example, last September, Tata Chemicals announced a joint venture with the New Jersey-based company that makes Arm & Hammer products.   Tata is going to invest $60 million in a new U.S. manufacturing facility to make chemicals for pollution control.

We need more stories like that.  That’s why the Commerce Department launched SelectUSA – an initiative strongly supported by the President.  This is the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract business investments to America.

This year, our commercial service officers in 25 fast-growing markets – including India – will start working with foreign CEOs as they explore whether to build facilities and hire workers here in the U.S. And the U.S. Ambassadors in those 25 countries are also fully on-board – working in concert with Secretary Clinton’s push toward “economic statecraft.”

Before I close, I should mention that we still have challenges in regards to transparency, accountability, and openness in India.

India has taken important steps such as supporting the use of integrity pacts by contractors and ratifying the U.N. Convention Against Corruption.

However, we have continued concerns with everything from high tariffs, to intellectual property, to forced local sourcing in IT and electronics.

It’s clear that we still have hurdles to overcome, but – after this trade mission – I believe more than ever that we can indeed overcome them.

In closing, what is clear is that America must deepen and broaden its commercial engagement with India where the win-win potential is vast.

The only way we will accomplish that is through a foundation of strong person-to-person relationships. 

All of us must work together to build those bridges.

That must include people throughout the federal government and the private sector. It includes Indian-American citizens as a whole – a population which grew nearly 70% from 2000 to 2010. And, of course, this effort will take the dedication of experts on India policy, trade and other bilateral issues – including the leaders here at CSIS.

Naval Admiral Arleigh Burke, one of the founders of CSIS, once said this – and I quote: “Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job.  That takes all of the good characteristics: integrity, dedication of purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, implacability, as well as determination not to accept failure.” 

It’s clear that we need that same spirit today to help strengthen America and our economic relationships – and to ensure that the U.S. continues to lead the 21st century.

If we are successful, we will bring greater prosperity not only for ourselves, but for people around the world.

Thank you.