Exporting U.S. innovation, products and services is a top priority for the Obama administration, and MBDA is putting the spotlight on how minority-owned businesses are growing and thriving overseas so that we can be more prosperous here at home.
Recently, President Obama held an economic summit in Puerto Rico, organized in part by MBDA and the U.S. Department of Commerce. MBDA National Deputy Director Alejandra Castillo and our partner the Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center were integral in the success of the summit where President Obama’s Task Force on the Status of Puerto Rico made its final recommendations to boost job creation on the island. The Task Force recommended that MBDA continue to aid job creation and innovation by helping to facilitate public-private partnerships to finance the Integrated Bio-refinery Program. This program—which aims to create biofuels from sugar cane—will allow America to grow our own fuel and grow jobs at the same time.
This month, the U.S. Census Bureau released the final data from the 2007 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) , which offers a wellspring of data on the characteristics of minority-owned businesses in the United States. One characteristic that is sure to have a profound effect on our efforts to double exports over the next five years is that the minority business community continues to lead in global commerce.
Firms owned by minorities are twice as likely to export as non-minority firms. Mexico, Brazil and the Dominican Republic account for more than half of minority-owned business export transactions, with Peru, Nicaragua and India following behind those three. With 95% of the world’s population living overseas, the fact that MBEs share language commonalities, culture and connections to other countries make minority-owned businesses natural exporters to international markets.
As U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke says, “Working together to help more U.S. companies sell their world-class, innovative and high-quality goods and services to the billions of consumers outside of the United States is an economic priority.”
To help facilitate international trade, the Obama administration is working with Congress to institute new free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. These agreements will lower trade barriers by substantially reducing the billions of dollars in tariffs that American businesses pay to export to these countries. More information about the administration’s export strategy was released by Secretary Gary Locke this month when he submitted to Congress the 2011 National Export Strategy: Powering the National Export Initiative  report.
In closing, I’d like to invite you to participate in a trade mission that can help your business gain a foothold in a key overseas market—South Africa. The Department of Commerce is leading a trade mission to South Africa September 19-23, which will focus on energy, agricultural equipment, chemicals and computer and electronic products. South Africa has the largest economy in the region, with diverse industries and connections to key trading partners. For more information on this exciting opportunity, please visit the detailed event information for the trade mission to South Africa .
With your hard work and participation, trade missions like this will ensure minority-owned businesses continue to blaze trails abroad while growing jobs here at home. Together, we can win the future.