U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Thursday announced that the Department of Commerce will expand its overseas resources to help U.S. businesses navigate additional global markets and sell their goods and services to customers all over the world. The department’s International Trade Administration will add a total of 68 new positions and open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma. The expansion is largely focused on fast-growing markets in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
“Expanding trade and investment is a central part of the department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda,’ and our overseas presence is one critical way we support U.S. businesses seeking to grow in foreign markets,” Pritzker said. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of our borders, now is the time for U.S. businesses to look beyond the domestic market and take advantage of tremendous opportunities in fast-growing markets, especially in places like Africa and Asia.
“We know that when U.S. firms sell their goods overseas, the U.S. economy stands to benefit. U.S. exports reached a record $2.3 trillion in 2013, and exports now support 11.3 million jobs, up 1.6 million since 2009. With additional resources to support our companies abroad, we can build on this success, continue to generate economic growth, and create jobs," she said.
Pritzker made the announcement during a speech at John Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and reiterated the Obama administration’s long-term commitment to deepen U.S. economic and commercial engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. During her speech, Pritzker announced that ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service will be adding offices in Burma and Wuhan, China. Additional staff will be added at 10 other Asian posts.
The U.S. Commercial Service will more than double its presence in Africa, opening offices in in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique, and expanding offices in Kenya, Ghana, Morocco and Libya. Europe, the Middle East and the Western Hemisphere will also see growth in staff numbers.
ITA, working with the U.S. State Department, will begin implementing its expansion in the coming months.
President Barack Obama will visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines Wednesday through Tuesday in what is essentially a “do-over” after a previously scheduled visit to two regional summits was canceled last fall because of the budget impasse in Washington.
Obama is expected to discuss moving ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement at each stop. Getting a deal completed would do more than anything else to expand U.S. exports, experts say. The U.S. and Japan are engaged in bilateral negotiations, but are having difficulties agreeing over market access in sensitive areas such as agriculture and automobiles. Once a Japan deal is finalized, it will open the door for the rest of the TPP to be concluded, according to analysts at the Center for International and Strategic Studies.