U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews Delivers Remarks at First-Ever National Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Business Summit

Bruce H. Andrews

In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews delivered welcoming remarks at the first-ever National Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Business Summit, hosted by the Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI). With attendees ranging from small business owners to corporate leaders from across the nation, the Summit provides opportunities to learn about government services available to support the growth of all minority-owned businesses.

During his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted the Obama Administration’s firm commitment to supporting diverse businesses. He also underscored the importance of AAPI-owned businesses to the nation’s economy, as they employ over 3.6 million Americans and annually generate $700 billion in economic revenue.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for that kind introduction, Albert. Secretary Pritzker and I are so appreciative of your work on this summit. Vasu Abhiraman, thank you for that remarkable rendition of the National Anthem.

We also want to recognize Alejandra Castillo, our Director of the Minority Business Development Agency, for her tremendous leadership.

Of course, many officials from throughout the Obama Administration and the private sector were instrumental in organizing today’s summit. They includeWhite House Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Alissa Ko, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Dou Thor, and Helen Yan, Chair of the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, also known as National ACE.

Their hard work and collaboration made this event possible, and I hope you will join me in giving them a round of applause.

The 2016 National Asian American and Pacific Islander Business Summit is the first of its kind.  But the groundwork for it has arguably been years in the making. 

The Asian American and Pacific Islanders community represents many diverse languages, heritages, and cultures. Yet taken together, this population is on track to grow to 40.6 million people in the United States by the year 2050.

President Obama recognized the growing significance of this community when he reestablished the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders back in October 2009.In doing so, he sparked a government-wide effort to promote the success of Asian American and Pacific Islanders throughout our economy, culture, and society. And ultimately, that is what today’s summit is all about. Breaking down barriers and helping AAPI entrepreneurs like you to compete in the global economy.  

We know that the AAPI community is already a powerful economic force across our nation.

From coast to coast, more than two million businesses owned by Asian American and Pacific Islanders open their doors each morning. They provide goods and services across nearly every sector of our economy. They employ over 3.6 million Americans. And every year, they generate more than $700 billion in economic revenue.

Despite these incredible contributions, we know that real challenges remain. Many AAPI-owned firms remain small sole-proprietorships. They often struggle to get the assistance they need, whether it means accessing new lines of credit or expanding into new markets. 

That’s where the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency comes in. It’s the only federal bureau focused exclusively on helping minority-owned enterprises to thrive.

In the past year alone, MBDA has worked with nearly 800 AAPI-owned businesses nationwide. At today’s summit, we hope to build on that success.

In our Washington headquarters and throughout our 44 service centers across the country, MBDA specialists work every day to link you to minority-owned business support services, help you acquire new contracts and access new capital, and open the doors to global commerce and international trade.

Take for instance the MBDA Federal Procurement Center – the only office devoted to helping minority-owned businesses to compete in the federal procurement process. Our specialists will work with you to understand the goods and services you offer, and help you prepare a strategy for marketing to the federal government.

We are proud of our track record at MDBA. In fiscal year 2014 alone, we helped AAPI businesses secure nearly $770 million in new contracts and capital. And since 2012, the businesses we have served have increased job creation and retention by 55 percent.

Of course, beyond helping your businesses succeed at home, we want to help your companies compete abroad. The fact is that nearly 96 percent of the world’s consumers live beyond our borders. Yet many minority business owners hesitate to take the leap into international trade.

That has to change. At the International Trade Administration, it is our goal to help you compete on the global stage. We have Export Assistance Centers in more than 100 cities nationwide. Each day, we help firms overcome trade barriers and compete in new markets abroad.

In today’s global economy, U.S. companies must be able to compete and connect with customers worldwide. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a major opportunity to advance this goal. This trade deal will reduce trade barriers in eleven fast-growing markets, spur greater investment in our economy, and help more businesses of all sizes to compete abroad.

The Department of Commerce is proud to count the National ACE among our strongest allies for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Many ACE leaders are here with us today. We thank them for helping to make the case for why the AAPI community is uniquely positioned to take advantage of TPP. ACE has helped highlight how over two-thirds of current Asian Americans originate from outside the United States.  And many Asian immigrants hail from the very markets that TPP aims to open up for greater trade and investment. With five of the eleven TPP countries in the Asia Pacific Region, we know that minority businesses are twice as likely to export because of cultural and linguistic ties.

These lessons were driven home to me last November, when I had the pleasure of meeting with a delegation of small-and-medium-sized enterprises during the APEC Leader Summit in the Philippines.

Accompanying us on that trip were several business leaders from the AAPI community, including Former Member of the Export-Import Bank Board of Directors Patricia Loui, Member of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Billy Dec, National ACE Chairman Jimmy Ferguson, and Aurora Austriaco of the Filipino Executive Network.

Later in today’s program, we will share with you some of the key insights from that trip during the MBDA and White House Initiative’s “Doing Business in Asia” segment. We thank these business leaders for helping us to tout how TPP can unlock new economic opportunities for Diaspora communities here in the United States.

At the Department of Commerce, we know that the diversity of the American people is one of our nation’s greatest economic assets. As the AAPI community continues to grow in strength and size, our economy’s success will become even further tied to the success of your families, businesses, and broader communities.

Today’s summit is about laying the groundwork for that future. It’s about learning how we can better serve you. It’s about networking with each other and sharing innovative ideas. And it’s about connecting you to federal resources designed to help you be successful.

Through the connections we make today, we can ensure Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned businesses continue to shape our economy and build shared prosperity for generations to come.