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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at Discover Global Markets: Growth Opportunities in Intelligent Manufacturing in Indianapolis, Indiana


Introduced by Ian Steff, Assistant Secretary of Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Thank you, Ian, for the kind introduction and for your dedicated leadership advancing the global success of American businesses. My thanks also for the great work that you, Deputy Assistant Secretary Guevara, and your Global Markets team did to organize this national business development forum. Discover Global Markets is our annual flagship event for U.S. exporters and economic development organizations.

I am grateful for all of you joining us here in Indianapolis as well as for the hundreds of companies, participants, and U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service trade specialists and officers joining virtually around the globe. We are delighted to have representatives from more than 40 markets with us this week. Welcome.

My thanks also to my good friend and colleague Governor Eric Holcomb for being here. Governor, your contributions to the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board are critical to the future of American business. Your input is reflective of your leadership here in the Hoosier State, whose economy depends on manufacturing.

Nearly one third of the gross state product of Indiana is attributed to manufacturing. I commend your efforts to foster a workforce that supports the industry. And I extend a special thank you also to our host city for this event, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Indianapolis began as a small settlement in 1821, and it is now the twelfth largest city in the United States, with a population of more than 800,000. It is home to national headquarters for more than 90 companies. And it is where the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the world’s largest automobile racetrack, is located. So given that our focus today is on helping each of you fast-track “Growth Opportunities in Intelligent Manufacturing,” I’d say we’ve come to the right place!

Simply put, intelligent manufacturing, or advanced manufacturing as it is often called, is the use of new technologies to create products in different or more efficient ways. And it is an industry that is developing rapidly in the United States and abroad.

In 2019, global trade in advanced manufacturing technologies totaled $1.1 trillion. And exports by manufacturers based here in the United States were $114 billion. 

The United States is one of the world’s top suppliers of advanced manufacturing technologies, including:

  • Industrial automation products;
  • Industrial supply chain components;
  • Digital services;
  • And industrial 3D printing equipment.

Twenty-nine percent of all Advanced Manufacturing companies are headquartered in the United States, the highest of any country across the globe. Among them are established players in additive manufacturing like 3D Systems, as well as a large number of traditional manufacturing companies like GE and HP that have made the leap into Additive.

Advanced manufacturing promises huge opportunities to enhance productivity, through both manufacturing technology and significant improvements in supply chain practices. The transformations resulting from the application of Advanced Manufacturing processes are numerous and complex. Greater automation, including the rapid analysis of operational data, enables manufacturers to deliver much faster, more precise, and more flexible production than ever before.

Additive Manufacturing—or 3D printing—for example, enables very rapid prototyping, a more productive use of materials, and the ability to manufacture more dynamic and complex equipment. At present, U.S.-based 3D printing companies receive the most venture capital investment compared with alternative advanced methodologies. In 2019, 3D printing start-ups raised more than $1 billion in VC worldwide. And although it still represents less than one percent of global manufacturing, the global additive manufacturing market grew to over $10.4 billion in 2019.

At the beginning of 2020, the 3D printing market was set to double in size every 3 years with annual growth forecast by analysts between 18.2 and 27.2 percent. However, that rate of increase could be much greater as a result of 3D printing’s utility amidst upended supply chains and disrupted production cycles.

But to remain competitive, companies and governments must be able to sustain the complex global supply chains on which Advanced Manufacturing depends.

It is why President Trump was resolute in his inclusion of a digital trade chapter in the newly entered into force USMCA trade agreement, recognizing and adapting to forms of trade that hardly existed when NAFTA was adopted in the 1990s. Specifically, it includes rules that allow data to be transferred freely across borders and prohibits protectionist limits on the location of data storage and processing.This is a big win for U.S. companies that operate internationally.

Supply chain sustainability is also a major incentive for reshoring production, especially in the wake of the global COVID-19 emergency. President Trump is dedicated to reshoring manufacturing, and under his leadership, the Commerce Department is offering three primary resources that we can share with businesses:

First, within the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, SelectUSA is connecting manufacturing businesses to the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program. NIST MEP is a public-private partnership with Centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, dedicated to serving small and medium-sized manufacturers. MEP provides supply chain optimization, supplier improvement, and supplier scouting solutions, and offers tools and strategies to help manufacturers throughout the supply chain reach their growth goals.

Second, SelectUSA is eager to connect foreign investors to investment capital as appropriate, and in a meaningful way. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Small Business Administration, Economic Development Administration, and Export-Import Bank of the United States offer financial solutions that could be of interest to foreign companies and governments wishing to expand or initiate investment in the United States in critical supply chain areas. The agencies use innovative financial products, debt and equity financing, and risk insurance to support businesses that want to establish manufacturing centers in the United States. They can help your businesses offset costs like inventory, shipping, and MEP services. In addition, these agencies can assist with workforce development and manufacturing training program costs and tax credits.

And third, SelectUSA is available to provide tools that enhance lead generation and market development, along with in-depth counseling sessions and vetting of prospective partner companies. By helping companies find investments that can be successful in critical supply chain areas, SelectUSA hopes to have an outsized impact on its overall investment attraction mandate.

As you network virtually and in Indianapolis this week in search of export assistance tools, I hope you will also seek out my Department’s U.S. Commercial Service. The U.S. Commercial Service helps American businesses export and grow internationally. Operating within ITA, the Commercial Service offers companies a full range of expertise in international trade. Companies can find assistance locally in more than 100 U.S. Commercial Service offices nationwide and in more than 70 international offices.

And the Commercial Service has an Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, with a dedicated team that works with companies across the U.S. to provide assistance exporting innovative American products and services. In addition, for FY 2021, the team has plans to enhance its focus on exports of 3D/additive manufacturing, automation/industry 4.0, industrial materials, industrial machinery, and material handling equipment.

My Department is here to support you with whatever resources you may need as we make progress through the economic recovery together.

Again, thank you for joining us today. I look forward to hearing your observations and suggestions. And I especially look forward to hearing about your successes.