TAMPA, FL - Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez made his first trip home to Tampa with a message for Florida leaders: make exporting a top priority. "Our future is based, in large part, on trade," said Sanchez as he addressed a crowd of approximately 250 heads of business, agriculture, aerospace and economic development.
Sanchez' trip comes just months after President Obama signed the Executive Order for the National Export Initiative. During his January State of the Union Address Obama stated his goal to double economic exports in the next five years. Doing so, Obama said, will support nearly two million higher-paying jobs. As the man tasked with ensuring that the NEI goal is met, Sanchez is currently traveling the country to show businesses and government entities exactly what needs to happen in order for exports to increase.
Sanchez emphasized that small and medium-sized businesses would be the key to reaching the NEI goal. Currently most of the trading from those businesses is targeted to Mexico and Canada, but Sanchez advises business owners to consider emerging markets, such as China, Brazil and India, and what he calls "Next Tier" markets, including Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
The newly-formed Export Initiative Cabinet has also partnered with shipping providers including FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service to target those businesses already exporting at some level. Those businesses that show export activity are then proactively contacted and invited to participate in a training program to see how they can increase their capacity or get "export ready" for additional markets.
While the NEI has already demonstrated some success - resulting in approximately $11.5 billion of commercial contracts in the last seven months - there are many hurdles that will have to be overcome. First, Sanchez and his team will need to ensure that trade laws are vigorously enforced while still "leveling the playing field" for American companies to compete for contracts. Sanchez emphasized that he feels that one of the biggest barriers to exports is corruption and stated that the Export Initiative Cabinet is already deploying a strategy of commercial diplomacy so that other countries are following suit in the crack-down of illegal trade practices.
The other major dilemma for many businesses looking to export is a lack of credit in the marketplace. While the SBA is lending to some export-ready businesses, Sanchez is calling on private banks to open their doors to those wishing to begin or increase trade. Specifically, Sanchez cited Sun Trust as a national leader in export lending and encouraged other banks to follow their lead and, "...Seize the moment of economic rebuilding."
"Tampa's roots in trade are the blue print for the future," Sanchez said. "If you are not exporting then you do so at your own ill."
Shawna Vercher is an online news correspondent and president of The Society of Successful Women, a national advocacy group that champions the success of women globally. To learn more about Shawna or how you can attend the 2010 SSW Leadership Summit on October 8th, visit www.thessw.com or reach out to her on Facebook.