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Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the President’s Export Award Ceremony


Introduced by Commerce Under Secretary of Trade Gilbert Kaplan.

Thank you, Gil, for the kind introduction, and for your leadership of the International Trade Administration. We are fortunate to have you, Ian, and our outstanding export-promotion professionals located in 106 American cities, and in 78 countries around the world working to support companies like yours.

On behalf of President Trump, I am honored to welcome you to the nation’s 57th Export Award ceremony. We are delighted you could join us for this special ceremony.

Thank you, also, to our guests from Capitol Hill here to celebrate with your constituents: Congressman Ben McAdams of Utah, is with us to support Max-Tec. Welcome. And Representative French Hill of Arkansas, is here to honor Safe Foods Corporation. Thank you, Representative Hill, for attending.

Please, let us begin with a worthy round of applause for the President’s E, and E-Star Award winners.

Having arrived at the Commerce Department from a career in the private sector, I know personally how difficult business development can be in global markets. Thank you, to all the Award Winners, for your hard work at generating customers beyond our borders.

Exports are critically important to our nation’s economy. U.S. companies exported $1.67 trillion worth of manufactured goods last year, a record high. They also exported $828 billion in services, also an all-time record. Never before in history has the U.S. private sector exported $2.5 trillion worth of goods and services. Total exports constituted 13.5 percent of U.S. GDP. That is an astounding number, and those exports support an estimated 10 million high-paying jobs. But it is simply not enough.

For most of our trading partners, exports as a percentage of GDP are far higher than our level of 12.2 percent. In Japan, exports account for 18 percent of GDP. In China, exports represent 20 percent of GDP. In Germany, it’s 47 percent. And the global average, according to the World Bank, is 28.5 percent.

The Trump Administration and the trade promotion and enforcement professionals here at Commerce are working every day to eliminate the multitude of foreign barriers and tariffs that have been erected to make it difficult — and sometimes impossible — for you to export your products. With our tax, regulatory, and workforce development policies, we want to make the United States the best place in the world to produce products. We want our country to be the major export platform that it once was.

We are also doing that with a trade policy that puts America First. America First is more than a slogan. It means the creation of thousands of good jobs at American companies like yours. It means insisting that our trading partners stop stealing your designs and your intellectual property. It means we put a halt to their making exact counterfeits of your goods and selling them illegally, directly to consumers on e-commerce platforms that are proliferating throughout the globe. It means we will defend you from surges of foreign-government subsidized imports.

We are pursuing the challenge of renegotiating trade deals that are one-sided; and we are replacing them with agreements — such as the USMCA — that are far more beneficial for American producers and their workers. Simply stated, we want you to have the same access to foreign markets as your competitors have to our market — which is the most open and free market in the world.

For our domestic producers, trade has not been free, fair, nor reciprocal. Such a task is not particularly easy, but I am happy to report, that our pro-domestic production policies are paying off.

Since the President was elected, our country has added 5.8 million new jobs, including almost half-a-million in the U.S. manufacturing sector. That is a major success story that nobody would have predicted only a few years ago, when policies were geared to the specious notion that the United States did not need a manufacturing sector to prosper.

The companies that we are honoring today have successfully penetrated foreign markets, to the tune of more than $2.4 billion worth of exports over the previous four years. Those exports are essential to funding innovation and improving not only your company’s competitiveness, but the competitiveness of the U.S. economy.

You are creating the wealth required for the United States to maintain both its economic and national security. You are to be commended for doing so. Thank you.

The E Award was created in 1961, to promote global outreach by American entrepreneurs and businesses. Thirty-nine firms this year are receiving E Awards for the achievement of having four successive years of export growth. Nine of you are previous E-Award winners and will receive E-Star awards. You come from all across our nation.

Today’s winners include companies like Sauereisen, a third-generation, family-owned manufacturing firm, that sells its industrial coatings, linings, and ceramics in 25 foreign markets. Sauereisen is receiving its second E-Star award, only the fourth company ever to do so. We are pleased to have Eric Sauereisen, the company president, and a valued member of our Western Pennsylvania District Export Council here with us today.

Genicon is a 20-year-old company that produces patented, single-use, surgical instruments for physicians in more than 60 countries. Exports represent more than 65 percent of the company’s revenue. Owners Gary and Olga Hayberland, who both serve on our Central North Florida District Export Council, proudly note that Genicon’s U.S.-based supply chain is a jobs multiplier in communities throughout the country.

Maine Coast is one of the largest, fastest growing international distributors of lobster. Tom and Sheila Adams started the business on this very date in 2011. Happy 8th anniversary, Tom and Sheila. They started with four employees, and turned their focus to exports; first to the EU, and then to Southeast Asia. By 2018, Maine Coast had grown to 50 employees. It has shipped 7 million pounds of live lobster to customers here and in 29 foreign countries.

Earth Networks is a leading provider of global weather intelligence to industry and government. Founded in 1993, the company collaborates with NOAA to provide early warning systems for severe weather for clients in 46 countries. The company has tapped into export promotion programs at our International Trade Administration, using U.S. Field Staff located in our Export Assistance Centers, and Foreign Commercial Service Officers located in overseas markets.

And American Express is here, too. Amex was presented the President’s E Award in 1966. Today, 53 years later, we are delighted to welcome them back to receive an E-Star Award. Four years ago, Amex launched its “Grow-Global” program to connect small and mid-sized businesses with export professionals and opportunities. Its clients are now active in multiple international markets.

Every winner here today has an extraordinary story to tell. It is not the government that exports products, but companies like yours. We provide the enabling environment for you to succeed.

Thank you for your resolve and your tenacity in growing your business beyond our borders. We wish you continued success; and, please remember, that our trade promotion and enforcement professionals work for you. We are ready to help your company in any way we can.

Congratulations for a job well done.

It is truly a special honor to win this Presidential Award.