AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Inter-American Development Bank
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Thank you Gustavo for that kind introduction and for all you did behind the scenes to make tonight’s event possible. Your Excellency Mauro Vieira and Señor Luis Alberto Moreno on behalf the Department of Commerce, I extend greetings from Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez.
And, on behalf of the Minority Business Development Agency, I want to thank you for hosting our audience of business leaders at this delightful facility. Your warm welcome and spirit of friendship is a perfect opening to the 30th annual National Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference.
Gathered here tonight is a room full of successful business leaders from across the United States who have come from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Texas, and North Dakota. Welcome. I also want to extend greetings to the international visitors from the Republic of Senegal and Turkey who truly add a global flair to the 2012 MED Week Conference.
Please allow me to also thank our MED Week sponsors, as well as all those who helped organize this event. MED Week is an important gathering because it creates a platform to build business partnerships that will lead to a stronger economy and the creation of jobs in America and around the world. Forging strategic partnerships and business alliances is important and necessary work. Collaboration leads to innovation and impact.
As all of you know, recent years have brought great economic pain to communities and businesses around the world. That is why sustainable job growth and global competitiveness remain atop President Obama’s economic agenda. At the heart of this agenda is linking American businesses with the tremendous opportunities overseas. This administration realizes that in the 21st century global economy — in order to be competitive — American firms have to be able to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside America’s borders.
And obviously that’s important for the American economy because whenever a business makes a sale abroad, it means revenue is coming back home. And that can be used to expand a business or hire workers, so it’s good news for the American people. It’s also good for our trading partners. We are proud that U.S. products and services are helping to meet needs and fuel economic development around the world.
Bottom line: these international commercial relationships are win-win partnerships. That is why all of us in the administration are so focused on deepening economic ties with our international friends. And in looking at the global landscape, it’s clear: There is enormous market potential in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and of course, closer to home in Latin America and the Caribbean.;
Our commitment to Latin America is evident: In the past four years, new Free Trade Agreements with Columbia, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua went into effect. Tonight’s opening reception and tomorrow’s conference is an opportunity to bring together the minority business community with the many diaspora communities in America.
By promoting business-to-business linkages, the relationships you build may very well change the trajectory of your business for years to come. With that said, I encourage you to expand your network of business contacts by meeting as many new people as you can. Now, it is my distinct honor to introduce His Excellency, Mauro Vieira, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States.