Celebrating the Benefits of Trade


Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

The month of May is recognized as World Trade Month. It gives all of us an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of trade and investment as a driver of prosperity for our workers, businesses, and economy. That importance is reflected in the fact that trade is a fundamental reason for why we experienced the strongest recovery from the Great Recession and why 11.5 million American jobs today are supported by our exports.

The core of our export strength is largely our small and-medium sized enterprises. They not only make up the majority of our exporters, but they are also responsible for two-thirds of all new net jobs since 1970. So it is fitting that the first week of World Trade Month is also National Small Business Week. One of the most important ways the International Trade Administration (ITA) assists our SMEs is through our NEI/NEXT program, which directly connects SMEs to federal export resources. Those resources include commercial intelligence, online training on protecting your intellectual property, and tariff information through our FTA Tariff Tool. It is also fitting that we will be honoring many SMEs during the 54th annual “E” Awards presentation on May 16. The President’s “E” Award is given every year to American companies for their contribution to increasing American exports through selling their high-quality products and services abroad.

World Trade Month also offers an opportunity to focus on the benefits of foreign direct investment (FDI). More than six million Americans today work for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign owned firms and nearly six million additional jobs are indirectly attributed to FDI. To support efforts to attract and retain FDI in the United States, President Obama established SelectUSA in 2011 and, given the increasing importance of FDI, Secretary Pritzker has established the United States Investment Advisory Council. The IAC will serve as a key platform for input on how to best attract and retain FDI. Up to 20 members will be tasked with advising the Secretary of Commerce on ways to support the United States’s position as the world’s preeminent destination for foreign direct investment. We are currently seeking candidates through May 10th, 2016. You can find more information here.

 Our commitment to attracting FDI will be on full display during the upcoming SelectUSA summit, which will take place June 19-21 at the Washington Hilton. We expect to welcome more than 2,000 participants from roughly 70 countries. President Obama will deliver keynote remarks and attendees will hear from public and private sector leaders from all over the world who will offer their insights on doing business in the United States. Click here for registration information.

Trade agreements are another way to help promote and expand export opportunities for U.S. businesses. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will facilitate millions of export-supported jobs, drive growth for our small businesses, and foster greater connectivity with markets that are home to millions of the world’s customers. These are just a few of the reasons we are working so hard to make TPP a reality. We are making the case for TPP directly to lawmakers, businesses, and the American people. That effort included creating a series of reports explaining what opportunities exist in our 11 TPP partner markets with our new series of reports. Our reports explain precisely why TPP is a generational opportunity for our exporters and workers.

Finally, World Trade Month gives all of us an opportunity to acknowledge the client service that ITA provides to American businesses every day. The quality of that client service was recently exemplified in our work at the Hannover Messe trade fair last week. The Department of Commerce led the largest delegation of U.S. companies and Economic Development Agencies in the fair’s history, supporting more than 420 U.S. exhibitors at Hannover Messe, including some of the leading innovators in energy solutions, Internet of Things, and advanced manufacturing.  

Thanks for all you do to support American exports, businesses and workers.