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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Upcoming Public Health Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia and Qatar

FPC Briefing
Francisco Sanchez
Under Secretary of Commerce for Trade
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC
June 3, 2010


 2:00 P.M. EDT

Audio

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I’ll make my remarks very, very brief so that we have more time to just have a conversation and I can answer any questions you have.

MODERATOR: Okay.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: As many of you know, President Obama announced about two and a half months ago the National Export Initiative. And that initiative calls for doubling exports in five years, thereby supporting approximately 2 million jobs here in the United States. And Saudi Arabia, which this trade mission – Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which this, really, trade mission is focused on, provides us with a very good opportunity at moving the needle, if you will, toward achieving the President’s goals of doubling exports and supporting 2 million jobs.

Why do I say that? Well, let’s start with – Saudi Arabia has indicated that it intends to spend upwards to $400 billion over the next several years in infrastructure projects, and this is everything from roads and improving their petrochemical industry to hospitals, just in a whole range of areas. This particular trade mission is focused on public health, and by public health, we mean that in a very broad way. So it could be constructing hospitals, but it can also mean water treatment, water being a very important and critical resource in Saudi.

So, ways to help them manage their water systems, their waste water systems. So we will have on our mission companies that represent architectural services, engineering services, construction, particularly construction in the environmental and infrastructure space, certainly a lot of companies with medical devices.

And in Qatar, Qatar is also – I don’t have the exact number, but Qatar – I always – I don’t know if I’m saying it – what is more appropriate, Qatar or Qatar?

QUESTION: Qatar.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Qatar?

QUESTION: Qatar.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Qatar?

QUESTION: Qatar, yes.

QUESTION: I like Qatar, yes.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Feel better with Qatar?

QUESTION: Yes.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Okay.

QUESTION: It’s a very strong (inaudible).

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Qatar.

QUESTION: Yes, exactly.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Did I get that right?

QUESTION: Yes.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah, you did well. (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Thank you. Qatar has also indicated that they intend to invest heavily in infrastructure over the next several years. So, we think that the companies that we’re bringing in this space of broadly defined public health activities also presents a great opportunity. And so we’re very excited about the trip. While I’m there, I intend to meet with government officials and talk about ways that we can cooperate to strengthen our commercial relationship. So I’m very much looking forward to the trip, though not necessarily the length of the flight, but --

QUESTION: When are you going?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I leave this evening.

QUESTION: Oh.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: So we’re – this is in real time. I leave at 9:53.

QUESTION: And how long you’ll be there?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I’ll be in the Middle East for seven days.

QUESTION: And do --

QUESTION: Seven days?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Seven days.

QUESTION: Seven days.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: We’ll be leading the two countries?

QUESTION: Right.

QUESTION: You’ll be leading the delegation?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I’m leading the delegation.

QUESTION: And how big is the delegation.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: We have – I believe it’s 15 companies, 15 U.S. companies.

QUESTION: With one representative each, right?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: One, some may have two – one or two representatives.

QUESTION: Only Saudi and Qatar?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Yes.

QUESTION: So my next question is, you know, you’re going to the GCC. Why Saudi and Qatar? I mean, you mentioned those two, but for example, you have quite a bit of work going on also in Kuwait and the UAE and everything. Why did you hone in on those two?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, we are doing work in other countries. I went to Libya and Algeria in February, for example. So this isn’t to say we’re not looking at other opportunities in other countries. We believe that there’s some really strong opportunities and that – and timely opportunities. So we believed it was important to come now as these two countries in particular look at how they’re going to appropriate the money that they have allocated for infrastructure. We think the timing was right.

QUESTION: Right.

QUESTION: And the initiative was taken – who thought of this partnership in this specific way? Who took the – was it your idea to kind of do this?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, we have – the Foreign Commercial Service has a network of offices around the world. We’re represented in 77 countries, including Saudi Arabia. And our local office in Saudi made the case for us coming there, that this was a – this presented a good opportunity and that it made sense to not only take this mission and focus on public health, but use the opportunity for me to meet with government officials about looking for ways that we can strengthen the commercial relationship.

So I really would give the credit to the local Foreign – U.S. Foreign Commercial Service office, who made a very persuasive case for us to organize and take this mission.

QUESTION: Do you have the name of the companies?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Yes.

QUESTION: The whole list?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: We do, and we can provide that to you.

QUESTION: If we can get that.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: You can.

QUESTION: And also, I mean, who is your biggest competitors in this? How is China exports to Saudi and Qatar? I mean, is there a lot of vacuum that you’re trying to fill now or are there other competitors out there that you’re trying to (inaudible)?

QUESTION: Or even Germany, I would say?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Yeah, I think you’d have to look by sector. I think in some areas, we’re more competitive than others. In medical devices, I think we are highly competitive, and this is in part because the United States still invests more in research and development and innovation than many countries around the world. And this is certainly true in the healthcare field. So I think in healthcare, we clearly have a very strong advantage.

Now, you mentioned Germany, and I would – I don’t know for sure, but I would suspect that Germany is a strong competitor. So I think – and the focus of this particular area is one in which we have a competitive advantage. A number of the companies that we’re taking you could categorize as companies that focus on environmental services, and the U.S. is a leader in environmental services.

So I would say that this particular mission really does focus on sectors where the U.S. has a lot to offer the world, and that is in innovative medical devices and in state-of-the-art environmental services.

QUESTION: Do you (inaudible) small retail is a long – kind of a long-term process (inaudible) open for trade on this specific issue, or what is the follow up?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, my hope is that – we really have kind of two goals here. We have the immediate goals of hoping that these companies sign contracts for products and services. The longer-term goal is that through the meetings that I have with government officials in both countries, that we really solidify and strengthen our commercial relationship in a way that benefits both countries. We recognize that trade is a two-way street, though I will say that we certainly import quite a bit, particularly from Saudi, but actually from both, although mostly in the form of oil. So every little bit we can do to help with the trade surplus that these two countries have, we appreciate.

But – so there’s the short-term goal of actually affecting some contracts and transactions, and the longer-term goal of strengthening our commercial relationships with both of these countries.

QUESTION: What is the trade situation now? I mean --

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: The actual numbers?

QUESTION: Right.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Do you happen to have that?

QUESTION: With Saudi and Qatar, both the – these specific countries in general.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I had those numbers yesterday in front of me and I don’t remember. But we can get that to you. Can we get that this afternoon?

STAFF: Yes, this afternoon.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: We’ll just send it to you all of you.

QUESTION: Okay.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: The – both the import and export numbers --

QUESTION: Right, right.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: -- we’ll get those to you. I feel rude drinking this in front of you. Do you guys want anything?

QUESTION: No, we’re good. Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible), so go ahead. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: So could I ask – you said, you know, you’re hoping to sign contracts coming out of this. Do you have particular projects in mind or is it in the hope that through these talks, you’ll come up with something?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I do believe that our Senior Commercial Officer and our offices there have identified certain projects. I’m not sure which ones those are.

QUESTION: Okay.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: But I think there’s both. I think there’s some specific projects that these companies could be well suited for, and then I think others are just to get their foot in the door and begin to develop relationships for any immediate projects that are available, but also beyond the projects that might be there today.

QUESTION: And who are you meeting in Saudi?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Do you have my schedule in front of me?

STAFF: I don’t have your schedule.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I believe I’m meeting with my – what would be my counterpart. I’ll also be meeting with officials in the health department. And I believe I’ll also be meeting with public works folks as well as folks that are involved in the petrochemical industry.

QUESTION: Right.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Even though this is not focused on that, some of these meetings will go beyond the narrow scope of the trade mission participants for a longer term. So, they --

QUESTION: Are they in Jeddah? Or location-wise, which cities do you --

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, we’ll certainly be in Riyadh and then we’ll also travel –

STAFF: To Jeddah and then to Doha.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: To Jeddah and Doha and – yeah, so those are the three cities.

QUESTION: Having heard so far what you said, it looks like it’s kind of a reconnaissance mission, right?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, it’s a reconnaissance --

QUESTION: Because I don’t see anything concrete or specific that you could tell us in terms of what you are going to do there.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I can’t predict what contracts will be signed. I mean, I just – there’s no way to know that. But our office down there has identified real opportunities there, and generally, when we take a trade mission with companies, it’s hard to predict whether there will any – whether there will be any contracts signed. Certainly, it’s our hope that we will, but there’s no way to --

QUESTION: But the reason why I’m saying this thing, when someone from the United States of your stature – you know, you are Under Secretary, which is a big thing.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Sure.

QUESTION: And you are going there and you are not quite sure what’s coming up, and so that’s the reason why I ask that.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, let me give you my perspective. You’re right. I can’t tell you that we’re going to sign an MOU or that any of these companies are going to sign contracts. On the other hand, I do know that Saudi Arabia, for example, is going to spend $400 billion in infrastructure projects. That’s pretty much a known entity. I know they’re going to be spending a big chunk of that money in areas where the United States is competitive.

QUESTION: Okay.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: So that was enough to get my attention, and it was enough to merit my taking time to take companies there and to visit with my counterpart, to visit with folks in the equivalent of a public works department, of a health department, to look at what we can do together beyond this trade mission.

QUESTION: How do you assess Saudi’s trade relations today, even as a member of the G-20? I mean, are they – they’re also – what are they looking for and how can the U.S. help and --

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I think that one of the things that the Saudi Government seems to be interested in is in diversification. They’re still very reliant on oil, but I believe they’re very interested in diversifying their economy. And I think that we can be very helpful in that, in bringing products and services that can help them with that. I think we enjoy a very good commercial relationship with Saudi Arabia, so this is really about building upon an already good foundation.

QUESTION: And the same for Qatar, I mean, in terms of your commercial relation?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: (Inaudible) do it for Qatar. There’s some countries that I go to that I have a laundry list of talking points, and the talking points are not necessarily present.

QUESTION: No.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: There’s a whole list of issues that we need to raise, and that’s not really the case with Qatar or Saudi Arabia. The stuff that I will be talking about is more about opportunities rather than problems we need to solve.

QUESTION: Have you noticed any change, I mean, recently in Saudi given what’s been said about King Abdullah, that he’s working to reform things, he – the University of Science and Technology – I mean, do you feel --

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I’m sorry, what – were they released --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to the King Abdullah Aziz University of Science of Technology. They just built this huge (inaudible)?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Yes, yes, yes – right, no, I’m aware – but I didn’t – I missed what you were saying, that --

QUESTION: Will you be – I mean, do you feel that the – I mean, the status of Saudi Arabia is changing with King Abdullah, I mean, the – or --

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I think that one of the things that I think is very forward-looking on the part of Saudi Arabia, to look at ways to diversify their economy. I think that’s very forward-looking. And part of any vibrant economy is a strong educational system and a strong focus on innovation. And so to the extent that I see those types of focuses by the Saudi Arabian Government, I think it’s a positive step in achieving the goal of a strong, diversified economy.

QUESTION: Can I ask you, what makes the U.S. more competitive than other countries to come into – specific to public health affordably?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I mean, probably first and foremost is that we still invest more in research and development and innovation than most countries in the world. That clearly is one huge advantage for us. Number two, we still probably have one of the best higher education systems in the world. And I’d say those two things continue to help us in those types of products and services that are high value products.

We may not be as competitive on products that have become commodities, but in areas that require a lot of intellectual input, I think what makes us competitive is our investments in higher education and research and development.

QUESTION: Can I ask you something? As you know, I’m not from the Middle East and it doesn’t really concern my area of interest, but the reason why I’m here today is that mostly, I have a broader question.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Sure.

QUESTION: In view of the Israeli raid on the flotilla, and as you can see in the newspapers and television, there has been an explosion of anger against Israel and also the United States, because the United States is the only country that has not condemned officially what they have done. So this creates all the time, you know, a kind of a perception that this is a country, you know, which is nakedly behind Israel and we have nothing to do with these people.

Do you get the sense of this boiling anger all over the world that might also hurt your business and whatever efforts that you are putting into all these things?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, let me first give a caveat before I respond, that my focus as Under Secretary of Commerce for Trade tends to be on commercial relationships, and I tend to defer responses that are more political in nature to the Department of State. So my – but I caught the tail end of your question, so I know it has a commercial angle. But I just want to say that my comments could be --

QUESTION: I mean, politics cannot be divorced from the issues that you are --

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Couldn’t agree more. What I would say is that the United States deeply, deeply regrets the loss of life and the injuries that were suffered in the incident that happened recently, and we remain very deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza. I believe that our government will be – continue to be very engaged with Israel in particular and do everything we can to support humanitarian products, humanitarian things getting through to Gaza.

I think it’s important that missions like the one I’m on continue to happen and we continue to foster dialogue in all the different ways that our relationships manifest. So we have diplomatic relations, we have commercial relationships. On the area that I have responsibility for, I think it’s important to keep not only the lines of communication open, but to engage them even more.

As to the impact it’s going to have, I really don’t know. What I do know is that our relationships with countries in the Middle East are very important in every aspect, and it’s my job to make sure that we continue to foster the commercial aspect of those relationships.

QUESTION: Well, let me – I mean, I want to make sure about one thing. I’m not trying to badger you.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Okay. I understand.

QUESTION: I’m just trying to understand this whole situation. Your competitors --

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Yes.

QUESTION: -- in this field that you just described, they might exploit the situation, you know, to their advantage, saying that, you know, we are friends of you, we condemn what Israel did – they didn’t, you know, so give us a contract. I mean, it’s quite obvious.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Look, I think that in any given moment, there will be incidents in the world that can aggravate, cause tensions within a relationship. And to the extent that that gives a country some short-term advantage, those things will happen. But I think what’s more important is having a sustained, long-term view of this relationship, particularly with the two countries that I’m going to visit now.

So I think we have to be concerned about what happened. We have to try to play a – our country has to play – try to play a constructive role. But I have to take a long-term view and I have to do what I can to build on a long-term, mutually-beneficial commercial and trade relationship with the two countries that I’m going to visit.

QUESTION: I can follow up, I mean, almost on the same line, but you were with Obama during the campaign. How did this, you know, his message of change, you know, the whole new political environment that we’ve seen, how do you incorporate this, especially in addressing Middle Eastern countries? Do you bring it up? Do you bring President Obama – I mean, I’m just curious to see if –

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: You mean throughout our government, how are we consistent with this message of change?

QUESTION: More if, you know, this message of change – how --

QUESTION: How does it translate into reality? That’s – I think that’s the question.

QUESTION: Well, do you bring it up with your --

QUESTION: Is it different from the Bush Administration?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I – I’m going to say yes, I think it is different. I think it’s different in tone. I think it’s different in the way we approach both challenges and opportunities. So, for example, and again I’ll focus on the commercial area, I recently participated in the President’s entrepreneurial summit, which primarily focused with Muslim-majority countries. I don’t remember that ever happening prior to the Obama Administration.

I think that the President’s speeches – when a president speaks, it means something. It means a lot. And so the President has been, particularly in his first year – I think gave some very significant speeches around the world that set a very different tone, that I would be hard-pressed to say it was similar to the previous administration. That isn’t to say that a president is going to behave completely different in every aspect of his administration from previous administrations. There is some continuity that happens from one administration to the next. But I think that there have been very visible changes in the way that we interact and the way we approach countries.

We believe it’s important to function multilaterally, to consult more, and I believe we’re doing that. And then certainly I’m doing that in the commercial area. I’m trying to take advantage of venues that we have in place. So last week I was in China, where I co-led a meeting with my counterpart in China on the Joint Committee for Commerce and Trade, which is the venue we use to discuss both opportunities and challenges in our commercial and trade relationship. In India, I lead the commercial – I co-lead the commercial dialogue. In Brazil, I co-led the commercial dialogue. And so we’re using all these venues to try to have more cooperation, working together and looking for opportunities. Brazil is a country that we currently have a problem with right now, that we’re trying to work through, on cotton. Well, at the same time, my trip down there a few weeks back to co-chair the commercial dialogue meeting we had was focused on joint opportunities in innovation.

So it isn’t always just going down the complain about some trade barrier or some policy we’re not happy with. It’s also looking for ways that we can work together for mutual benefit. Again in Brazil, we talked about ways that we could foster more involvement by small businesses in the global market. And so I envision similar conversations in countries around the world. So yes, this is a long answer to the question, and I think both in tone and in practice, I think you see – I’m sorry; the question came from here – I think in tone and in practice, the – there are significant differences from previous administrations.

QUESTION: Can I ask you – you mentioned that you were at the entrepreneurship summit. I want to ask you about the global – let me remember this – Global Innovation Technology Fund that was launched there. So the whole idea about that taking the relationships beyond just commercial (inaudible) and fostering innovation and everything, do you think that’s something that will come up in your trip? Is that something that you’re working on in any way?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: It isn’t anything that I have on my agenda for this particular trip, but I believe that that’s an important initiative that could prove very beneficial to countries around the world, particularly those that participated in the summit.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) my question on Panama, if you don’t mind, since I know in Saudi Arabia they have, obviously, like, oil, which they’re trying to diversify their portfolio, I guess, into other things. But there’s a huge – as – it was acknowledged by the entrepreneurship summit – movement with you that tended to do, like, smaller businesses. And that’s, if nothing else, (inaudible) capitalism in the country.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Yes.

QUESTION: And so I wonder how much of – this is as much a question as it is a suggestion – to kind of focus on.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Let me tell you, I’ll gladly take any suggestions you have. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Do you have an extra seat on the plane? (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Do you know the exact –

QUESTION: I think it’s Gitmo. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: All right. So back to more serious. Sorry.

QUESTION: But anyway, to kind of focus on this as well. And I don’t know if that’s something that may be in follow-up meetings to your visit now, but I’m guessing that this will be, like, they’ll probably travel here as well, your counterparts will come here at some point?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I will certainly be inviting them. And if I get where you’re going with your advice, that perhaps one of the things we can do in terms of cooperation and mutual benefit is offer some of the things that we’ve done here to foster entrepreneurship among small businesses.

QUESTION: Right.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: I think that’s a great idea and it’s an area of cooperation that I would welcome. I don’t like to offer unsolicited advice, so if it’s asked of us as an area of cooperation, I think it would be very exciting. In our own country, most communities, upwards to 80 percent of the private sector jobs come from small businesses. They don’t come from the Boeings or the IBMs or Ciscos. They come from the dry cleaner, they come from the corner grocery store --

QUESTION: Bakery shop.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: -- the bakery shop. Literally 80 percent of private sector. And if you start putting in universities and government, then it’s a little different. But if you just zero in on the private sector employment, approximately 80 percent in most communities come from small businesses. And I think it would be interesting for us to continue to help each other look for ways to promote small business activity. We – I have a challenge, and that is getting more small businesses to look at the market globally. We only have approximately one percent of our businesses that export.

QUESTION: Wow.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Which is – in my view, is just dismal. We should be doing far better than that.

QUESTION: Just one percent?

QUESTION: One?

UNDER SECRETRY SANCHEZ: One percent. Only one percent of businesses export.

QUESTION: I don’t –

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Of all the businesses in America, one percent export. Approximately 275,000 businesses.

QUESTION: And what do the rest do?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, Germany which you mentioned, has about 12 percent of their businesses.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Very – and there are other countries that even go higher, so I think we don’t have the market cornered on how to help small businesses. I think we could learn from each other and learn together. We can certainly talk about fostering entrepreneurship. And then maybe together, we can learn how to get more small businesses to export.

QUESTION: Sorry, can I ask you – so leading on to this issue of exporting, what you mentioned at the very beginning of the briefing about President Obama’s goal to double exports, so what are the regions that your focusing on? And how do you see which region is going to be the most crucial in terms of getting to that figure?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, I wouldn’t say we were focused in a particular region.

QUESTION: Or a particular sector?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: We are focused on emerging markets. And so there are countries in the Middle East – and I would say these two countries in that category – as emerging markets for it. And then some of the other countries would not be a surprise to you – China, India, Brazil – other markets in other countries in Africa that we’ll be looking at, other countries in Asia. So I wouldn’t say that there’s one particular region.

I think there’ll be a focus on emerging markets, but that doesn’t – that also doesn’t mean we’re going to ignore more mature traditional markets, because as we focus on these small businesses that are not exporting or are exporting in a very limited way, we think it’s probably easier to persuade them to go to a more mature market first. So if you have a company right now that’s only exporting to Canada, probably easier to get them to look at Europe than to go to China, for example. So we – while we will have a focus on emerging markets, there are programs, particularly the small businesses that are new to exporting or new to traditional markets, where we would probably focus on traditional markets.

QUESTION: By the way – and I don’t know whether I missed that point, did you say that this whole purpose of this mission, are your – in your department, is that it will clear about two million jobs?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: No, no, no. You mean this trade mission?

QUESTION: No, no, no.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Oh, no. Boy.

QUESTION: I just wanted to clear –

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: No, the President’s National Export Initiative --

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: -- has two primary goals.

QUESTION: Okay. The National Export Initiative.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: The National Export Initiative is an initiative, it’s a government-wide initiative, that President Obama announced about two-and-a-half months ago – actually, probably now three months ago. And it has as two primary goals to double exports in five years from 2009 --

QUESTION: Give us a perspective. I mean, from where to where?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, let me give you a perspective on jobs. In 2008, there were about 10.3 million jobs supported by exports. In 2009, that number dropped to 8.3. We essentially lost 1.8 million jobs that --

QUESTION: In one year.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: In one year, that were supported by export activities. So by doubling these exports, his goal is to essentially get us out of the hole we’re in, recover those 1.8 million, and then do a little better.

QUESTION: Where are you now?

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Well, he announced three months ago, so we need a little bit of time. What I would say is this: A year ago, the United States’s growth rate was a negative 6.4. Today, we’re somewhere at around three to three-and-a-half.

QUESTION: 2.5 percent.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: So we’ve improved things by nine percent in about a year and three months. And we’ve had now three months in a row of job growth. So I’d say the conditions are good for us to be on track to double the exports. And just to be clear, we’re doubling them from 2009 --

QUESTION: Okay.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: -- which was a pretty low point. We lost 1.8 million jobs because we didn’t have the exports. We’re starting from our low point. But I’m convinced that this is achievable, and I think we have the right strategy to make it happen.

QUESTION: Well, you are the people who will make it happen.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: You’re right. And I get reminded of that by my boss every single day. The Secretary of Commerce calls me, not every day --

QUESTION: Gary Locke.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Gary Locke, right, calls me at least every two weeks and says I want a report on your progress.

QUESTION: Right.

QUESTION: Good luck to you.

UNDER SECRETARY SANCHEZ: Thank you all very, very much.

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