America’s Future: Innovation Jobs for
the Middle Class”
An Event Co-Hosted by
National Foreign Trade Council’s Global Innovation Forum & Howard University’s ELI Institute
April 8, 2009
PREPARED FOR DELIVERY*
Thank you, Ambassador Horace Dawson and Howard University.
I would also like to thank Bill Reinsch of the National
Foreign Trade Council, and Dean Harvey of Howard University Business School.
I’m excited to be here today because the Office of the
U.S. Trade Representative and
Law School are building strong ties. Next month, a Howard law student (named
Alexandra Whittaker) will be the first “extern” in a new joint program with my
General Counsel’s office. In
this program, we’ll have a second-year law student work in the USTR Office of
General Counsel full-time during the summer and part-time during their third
year. We’re excited about giving the sharp
minds at Howard
Law School a chance to participate in
international trade at this pivotal time.
I’m also glad to be here because I know this crowd gets
it. You understand the intersection
of innovation and trade.
You know that trade is a huge part of our country’s
economy. Last year, exports were a
record 13 percent of our GDP.
And you know that trade presents vast opportunities to
businesses big and small.
Ninety-seven percent of American exporters are businesses with fewer than
President Obama’s top priority today is turning around the
American economy. And the
innovation and creativity you’re talking about today are the cornerstone of our
future economic development.
The brainpower of American researchers,
scientists, engineers and manufacturing workers are already solving the world’s
greatest challenges– from health crises like AIDS and heart disease, to energy
crises like climate change. And
America’s industrial sector is
ready to produce the solutions - from sophisticated chemicals to precision
But as the President’s Trade Policy Agenda says, one key to
our economic success is our ability to trade that innovation and creativity –
through our products, our services, our intellectual property – in a rules-based
system around the world.
So I urge all of you to consider, in your discussions
today, how innovative engagement in the global marketplace can grow jobs and our
Many of you know that before I became U.S. Trade
Representative I was Mayor of Dallas.
During my time as Mayor, I was actively involved in and
supported an effort to build a biotechnology hub around our city’s amazing
medical facilities. In particular,
we already had the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. And it was because we had the right
infrastructure that we could use innovation to expand Dallas’s economic
Now, one of my jobs as United States Trade
Representative is to make sure that we have the right infrastructure in
international trade rules to protect American innovation and creativity, and
allow it to grow.
We know the world is
hungry for American ideas.
Ninety-five percent of all consumers live outside the United States.
So I’m going to spend a great deal
of my time expanding global markets for the products and services that flow from
American ideas. But getting
our products and services into those world markets is only my first task.
intellectual property, goods, and services can hit the global marketplace
sometimes with just a keystroke. If
we’re not vigilant, they can vanish after that.
of today’s economy is that there are those who seek their own profit at the
expense of American ingenuity, through counterfeiting and piracy of I-P.
So we must work to make sure that when American goods,
services, and intellectual property arrive in world markets, they benefit from
basic safeguards similar to those they enjoy at home. The President and I are confident that
given a level playing field, America’s businesses and workers can
successfully compete with those anywhere in the world.
But intellectual property theft and trade in knockoff goods
skew the playing field, and generate a host of other problems. They cause significant financial losses
for rights holders and legitimate businesses. Counterfeiting of some products, such as
car parts and medicines, poses a real risk to health and safety. These crimes also hinder sustainable
economic development in many countries.
Significant as those issues are, the need for trade
enforcement reaches far beyond I-P concerns. That’s why the President and I are
working with Congress to ensure a rules-based system across the board. Here’s how.
To help ensure that our exports can compete around the
We are asking our trading partners to commit to actions that level
the playing field fairly for American workers and businesses. It’s not too much to ask of them to not
only protect and enforce intellectual property rights, but also to provide
market access and protections for U.S. investors; to respect
internationally recognized labor rights; and to raise environmental standards.
And the rules our trading partners set have to be balanced and
fair. For instance, American
firms deserve the chance to compete in marketplaces where governments set rules
about safety and security performance.
But governments can’t design the rules to pick technological winners that
fulfill these requirements. If they
do, American businesses and workers will still end up on the losing end.
Once we have those commitments, we are making sure that our
trading partners follow through on those commitments, so that American workers
and businesses get the benefits of our bargains.
When our trading partners fall short of their commitments, we will
use all the tools in our toolbox to get them back on track. These can range from reports that point
out problems, to direct dialogues, to exercising our rights to bring legal cases
in the World Trade Organization.
At this time of extraordinary economic uncertainty, the
President and I will keep working to empower American businesses to create jobs,
expand opportunities for economic growth, and improve the lives of
We need to preserve and grow innovative, creative industries
now more than ever. We need to create high-wage jobs
today, and build new industries that will bring jobs for years to come.
This economic crisis was not made in a day, and it will not
be solved in a day. Beating this
recession will take time, resolve and patience.
But America’s ideas can help turn this
economy around sooner rather than later. Working together, we can make sure that
American workers and their families succeed in a global economy.
I am grateful to all of you for coming together today to
bring your incredible range of experience and insights to this great challenge,
and I look forward to hearing about the results of your discussions.
Thank you so much for the invitation to join you today.
I look forward to working with you.
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