printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Secretary of Commerce Locke on APEC SME Enhanding Competitiveness Through Green Growth Forum

May 18, 2011


Remarks

 

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE

GARY LOCKE

APEC SME ENHANCING COMPETITIVENESS

THROUGH GREEN GROWTH FORUM

 

May 18, 2011

Big Sky, Montana

 

MR. CAMUNEZ: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests. My name is Michael Camunez. I'm the Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the International Trade Administration, and I have the great pleasure of welcoming you this afternoon.

In addition to leading the U.S. SME Delegation here at Big Sky, I have the great privilege of being your host for today's event, Enhancing APEC SME Competitiveness Through Green Growth.

On behalf of the entire U.S. Host Delegation, I want to extend a very warm welcome to all of you.

Today's conference offers an exciting opportunity to significantly advance the dialogue in APEC on how to help shape and drive a green and sustainable growth agenda that will foster trade between our economies and advance the green growth objectives of the APEC 2011 USA Host Year. You'll hear more from me in a few minutes about the goals of today's conference and the program that we prepared for you, but, first, to kick things off and to put out work in context, we have the great privilege to be joined today by my boss, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Honorable Gary Locke, and here to introduce Secretary Locke is an APEC private sector leader who is well known to many of you.

Keith Williams is the President and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories, whose focus on securing business input to the APEC process has resulted in critical benefits for the private sector. He has a distinguished private sector career as an executive at GE and Metronic and as head of the UL, he's been a tremendous leader and advocate in the effort to promote international standards that foster economic growth in trade. His leadership in ongoing APEC policy work has been key to increasing the trade ties and strengthening the economic relationships across and among our member economies.

So please join me in giving a warm welcome to Keith Williams.

[Applause.]

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Assistant Secretary Camunez, for that kind introduction.

Secretary Locke, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, UL was born at the end of the 19th Century when the world's sources and uses of energy were rapidly changing in the emergence of the electrical era. Our role was to ensure safe products reached the market and to help reduce the extremely high levels of casualty and property loss so as to speed the adoption of a world-changing energy source.

Our longstanding mission is to preserve and promote safe living and working environments for people. Our efforts towards standards harmonization fight technical barriers to trade, thus facilitating freer trade, helping consumers to have more choice and economies to grow faster in an integrated global marketplace.

Our work also helps manufacturers navigate the compliance requirements of markets around the world and to build secure supply chains.

Today, as the world once again is dramatically changing, our sources and uses of energy for a sustainable future, UL finds itself partnering with old and new stakeholders to address safety and other technical issues related to these new technologies. Safety is an essential partner for new technologies and a harmonized system of standards and certification is the accelerator for their adoption.

The groundwork laid together will have important implications for green and sustainable growth and for safety and prosperity of the communities we all serve. The APEC community's leadership will change the future and I congratulate you for these efforts.

Now it is my privilege today to introduce the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. During the time that I have spent with Secretary Locke, I have found him to be insightful, engaged, and committed to building a stronger Pacific friendship.

Secretary Locke has been an active supporter of APEC during his tenure as Secretary of Commerce, having traveled to Singapore in 2009 and to Yokohama, Japan, last year to participate in the APEC CEO Summit and other events around the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting.

Secretary Locke has also followed green growth issues in APEC closely. In March this year, he addressed the APEC Green Buildings Conference as part of the SOM-1 Meetings in Washington, D.C. He also spoke to the APEC Auto Dialogue Meeting during SOM-1 about the importance of facilitating the import of low-emission demonstration vehicles in the various APEC economies.

So it is fitting that the Secretary would choose to make what may be his last major APEC speech as Commerce Secretary during this APEC SME Green Growth Competitiveness Forum. The Secretary has led a major Obama Administration initiative to increase U.S. exports, called The National Export Initiative, and small- and medium-sized enterprises have been integral to the success of that initiative.

As Governor of Washington State, Secretary Locke led many trade missions with Washington State SMEs to Asia and under his leadership, the Washington State trade agencies launched a pioneering program working with small companies who are developing cutting edge environmental technologies.

We all appreciate Secretary Locke's dedication to APEC's goal of greater economic integration in the Asia Pacific Region and we look forward to continuing to work with him should he be confirmed as the next U.S. Ambassador to China.

Please join me to welcome the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

[Applause.]

SECRETARY LOCKE: Well, thank you very much, Keith, for the introduction. It's really a pleasure to be here and to welcome all of you to Big Sky, Montana.

You know, how can anybody get much work done with a setting like that outside? I do hope that throughout the busy agenda of the last several days and the days ahead that you'll still have an opportunity to go outside, take one of the chair lifts that's operating, enjoy the incredible scenery, the clean air, and the wildlife that we have here, but really take an opportunity to enjoy the best that America has to offer.

On behalf of the Department of Commerce and President Obama's Administration, we welcome all of you here, and I do want to recognize a few of my Administration colleagues.

Ginger Lew from the White House National Economic Council, and also Peggy Philbin, Deputy Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. They'll be leading some sessions and moderating some sessions later on today.

But we always have to thank Senator Max Baucus and Senator Tester and also Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana for being such great hosts and putting on -- inviting us here in such beautiful surroundings and for the great hospitality not only of them but the entire state of Montana and the Big Sky Resort.

With leaders like Senators Baucus and Tester and Governor Schweitzer, it's easy to see why Montana was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year as the top state in America for starting and doing business. It's a place that obviously knows something about entrepreneurship and exports and so it's appropriate that we're meeting here this week to discuss the issues with our counterparts from the 20 other APEC nations and economies.

Last November, when President Obama was in Yokohama for the 2010 APEC Leaders Meeting, he spoke about the transformative economic miracle that we've seen in APEC economies over the last few decades. He said, "Countries where people once lived on a few dollars a day are now some of the fastest-growing economies in the world with incomes and standards of living that few could have imagined 40 or 50 years ago."

Well, today the Asia Pacific is the most economically-dynamic region in the world, home to nearly three billion people, and the 21-member economies represent 54 percent of the world's GDP and 44 percent of the world trade. Seven of America's 15 top trading partners are APEC countries and in 2010, total U.S. APEC trade was $2 trillion, a staggering 25 percent increase over 2009. As significant as this is, we believe that there are opportunities to do a lot more trade and commerce together throughout the Asia Pacific, through a variety of different industries.

Of course, one of the most promising areas of growth, the one that we've gathered here today to talk about, is clean growth, and I'd like to spend just the next few minutes talking about the opportunities and the challenges for APEC economies that want to embrace clean growth.

You know, when people begin discussing the economic potential of clean energy or clean growth, we inevitably hear the phrase "green jobs," and, unfortunately, some who are hostile to clean energy investment have taken to deriding green jobs as little more than a marketing tool contrived by environmentalists.

As President Obama has said before, it's misleading to suggest that there's somehow a contradiction between clean energy and economic growth and that's a false choice. Consider, for instance, the fact that a single commercial wind turbine uses an amount of steel equivalent to 225 mid-sized automobiles and contains some 8,000 parts from copper wire and gear boxes to electronic controls.

From the people who form the steel and build the gear boxes to those who assemble the turbines and market them to customers, there's a lot of jobs at every turn of the economic value chain and that's something Montana certainly understands. This state is increasing renewable energy at one of the fastest rates in America and growing renewable energy industries, such as wind, solar, and biofuels, are a critical part of catalyzing green economic growth.

But that's hardly the only part. In the next few decades, world economies will need to rebuild and reinvent virtually every industrial activity, from power generation and transportation to manufacturing and construction, all to succeed in an energy environment that looks drastically different from the one that we're used to.

For well over 100 years, much of the world enjoyed two luxuries that helped propel the greatest burst of sustained economic growth in human history. Number one, fossil fuels were cheap and abundant. Then number two, we either didn't know about or didn't care about the impact to our planet from the greenhouse gas submissions caused by burning those fuels. But those days are over. Fuel is no longer cheap, and the cost of these emissions is high. If we don't curb the carbon, we imperil the planet.

So when we talk about the potential of job creation arising from clean energy investments, we're not just talking about someone who work for a solar or a wind company. We're talking about creating an entirely new way of economic growth. We're talking about millions of new blue and white collar jobs. Engineers developing and designing energy-efficient lighting, meters, and factory processes. We're talking about mechanics rebuilding rickety electric grids with sensors and controls that monitor and distribute clean energy much more effectively. We're talking about construction workers producing and installing green building materials. We're talking about environmental consultants helping companies and governments improve emissions and energy monitoring. And we're talking about plumbers and technicians who install smarter irrigation systems to feed fields producing next-generation biofuels.

We're talking about companies like the one many of us are going to be visiting tomorrow, West Paw Design in Bozeman, which has built a state-of-the-art energy-efficient facility to manufacture its high-quality dog and cat toys, accessories, and apparel. The potential new businesses and new job creation in front of us is astounding.

To cite just one example, look at the growth prospects for making our buildings greener. In the United States, buildings consume 40 percent of energy and 73 percent of all electricity, and they're responsible for 39 percent of carbon emissions, more than transportation or industrial sectors. It's no surprise, then, that greening these buildings can create immense economic opportunity, with the overall green building projected to reach as much as $140 billion worldwide by the year 2013.

Of course, the question is, how do we get from here to that more promising, cleaner future? A big part of the answer lies with the small- and medium-sized enterprises that we're focused on here this week in Big Sky. We can't predict what technologies or innovations are going to completely change the game on energy or efficiency. But we do know that when these bursts of innovation happen, there's very likely to be an entrepreneur who's responsible. They are the people who are willing to mortgage their houses, work 100-hour work weeks, and throw caution to the wind in the pursuit of an idea.

And some entrepreneurs go on to build huge, multinational companies, but most don't. Most go on to lead small businesses, and quite frankly, it's these small businesses that are responsible for two out of every three new jobs created in the world. Consider the fact that small businesses in America generate 15 times more patents per dollar of R&D than large firms, or that they employ more scientists and engineers than America's universities and federal government agencies combined. And that's why APEC member economies need to put the empowerment of small businesses at the very center of their economic agendas.

The Department of Commerce has attempted to do this by creating online tools and programs that make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to enhance their global competitiveness. Our sustainable business clearinghouse provides an easy-to-use online portal where U.S. businesses can search from over 900 government programs that support green business practices. We're also developing a sustainable manufacturing 101 module, designed to enhance small companies' familiarity with green business practices and green methods. And we've worked closely with the OECD to develop a sustainable manufacturing metrics toolkit to make it easier for smaller companies to measure and communicate their clean growth successes.

I don't think there's any question that APEC member economies greatly value the power of thriving small businesses, especially when it comes to spurring clean growth. But the International Trade Mission and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, have identified a number of hurdles that small companies continue to confront within the APEC region. And these hurdles include: excessive transportation cost and customs clearance delays, difficulty protecting intellectual property, and difficulty taking advantage of preferential tariff rates and other aspects of our trade agreements. And finally, the hurdles include lack of access to financing and information.

That's why meetings like this are so important. Working together, we can find ways to make it easier, cheaper, and faster for SMEs to do business in the Asia-Pacific region. Our key SME objectives during the APEC 2011 U.S. host year include: strengthening economic integration in the region by removing barriers to trade and investment, creating an open and transparent business environment, and establishing a regulatory framework that expands opportunities across the board for companies of all sizes.

We obviously have a variety of complex issues to deal with during this week. But as we move forward in our discussions, I think it's always important to keep one question front and center. Are APEC member economies pursuing policies that unleash innovation and enable entrepreneurs? That needs to be our guiding star.

Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi founder of Grameen Bank and the winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, once said, "We are all entrepreneurs, only some of us are lucky enough to discover it." Well, the job of APEC policy-makers is to help create an environment that supports the risk-taking and the innovation that will be so important to promoting clean growth in the years to come.

I'd like to close with a little thought exercise that I think perfectly encapsulates the power of one man or woman with an idea, the power of the entrepreneur. Imagine for a moment if Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers, never went into his garage in the late 1970s to start tinkering with building a home computer. Think about that. Imagine if Steve Jobs had never gone into his garage in the late 1970s to start tinkering with building a home computer. Imagine if he had listened to the naysayers instead of his own heart. And there were certainly plenty of people who would have thought he was crazy.

In the same years that Steve Jobs incorporated Apple – the same year that he created Apple – the chairman and the founder of Digital Equipment Company, which was then one of the most accomplished, largest, most well-known technology companies in the world, said, "There's no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." If Jobs had gotten discouraged, or if he thought the barriers to launching a business were too difficult to overcome, the world would not have Apple Computers, iPhones, or iPads. And that would be a shame. And the people of Shenzhen, China who put together the iPhone wouldn't have their jobs, either. Nor would the engineers and the advertising executives, nor any of the number of employees who work on Apple-related products. And what's more, there are hundreds, even thousands, of computer engineers all across the world who have created the software for the more than 100,000 applications that have been designed for the iPhone. Without the iPhone platform, these applications and those hundreds of thousands of jobs would not exist.

Thirty years ago, one person pursued his dream to build a home computer. And because Steve Jobs made that decision, billions of dollars in economic value have been created and hundreds of thousands of jobs for people all across the globe, good-paying jobs. That's the power of the entrepreneur.

And in every one of our economies, we have entrepreneurs and inventors filled with new ideas to solve our energy challenges, to put us on a path to clean growth. Some of them may be in this room, or perhaps they're in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, or Chile, the Steve Jobs of biofuels or electric cars or building materials. We've got to give them the tools to succeed no matter where they live. And we hope we can make it happen this week and all the future sessions of APEC leading up to November 2011.

Have a good conference, and thank you very much.

[Applause]

MR. CAMUNEZ: Secretary Locke, thank you so much for your very insightful comments and for putting the importance of our work today into proper focus and context. We're grateful to have the Secretary with us. Please join me one more in giving a round of applause for Secretary Locke.

[Applause]

# # #