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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Second Open Meeting of the Commission


Thank you, Dr. Hsu, for the kind introduction, and for your leadership of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Thank you also to the commissioners joining together today, both in-person and virtually, for your second open meeting. Your civic engagement on behalf of the entire AAPI community is extremely commendable and appreciated.

At today’s meeting, I hope that you make steady progress on the recommendations you are developing for the President. We need them. Many of the nation’s 1.9 million AAPI-owned companies have suffered a dramatic loss of business due to the pandemic. Your community has also confronted biases and racial attacks that are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. I applaud the Justice Department for its continued pursuit of all cases of racial prejudice and crimes of hate.

We must also thank all of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are on the front lines of the battle with COVID. Every day, they are taking personal risks to save lives and keep our country safe, healthy, and whole.

Despite what is reported every day on the news, we are making progress on the economy. It was reported today that U.S. exports increased by 9.4 percent in June to $158 billion. The Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index climbed to a 15-month high of 54.2 percent. And consumer spending increased by 5.6 percent in June. Other longer-term indicators bode well for the U.S. economy. Americans saved 19 percent of their personal income in June, at an annualized rate of $3.37 trillion. That is a hefty amount, and when Americans are comfortable spending again, it should create a refreshing surge of growth.

As we sustain this progress, the Administration is continuing to deploy resources to address the impacts of COVID-19 on minority businesses. This Fall, the Department of Commerce will host 10 regional webinars focused on introducing business owners to tools and assistance available from the Department and from the Small Business Administration. The Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act provided $852 billion in loans to 6.1 million companies with fewer than 500 employees. There is still another $128 billion that is available under the PPP to be loaned. And the Administration continues to work with Congress on quick passage of another stimulus bill. I am hopeful that we will see additional relief soon.

The U.S. Government is putting its resources behind rebuilding the U.S. economy. The Export-Import Bank recently approved $27 billion to fund innovation, employment, and standards in the United States as a means to counter China’s aggressive industrial policies. The International Development Finance Corporation has signed an agreement with the Department of Defense to provide funding to U.S. companies under the Defense Production Act. The most recent of these efforts was a $765 million loan to Eastman Kodak Company to launch Kodak Pharmaceuticals and reestablish the domestic production of life-saving drugs. And both the Senate and House have passed provisions in the Defense Authorization bill to provide federal financing for the construction of semiconductor fabs in the United States. These programs and others associated with Buy American requirements are intended to rebuild our critical supply chains and benefit small- and medium sized companies throughout our economy.

I am looking forward to your discussions today on what more can be done in the near term to improve the fortunes of AAPI-owned businesses. I encourage members of the five subcommittees to craft your recommendations as soon as possible. Your report to the President is an important step in creating the policies that will further benefit your community. Thank you, and have a great second meeting.