MR. CHAIRMAN, Ranking Member Sarbanes and all the members of this Committee. Thank you for granting me this hearing today. I know how busy you are this time of year, so I very much appreciate your attention to this nomination.
Permit me a moment to thank my sponsor and my Senator from Maryland, Senator Paul Sarbanes. Senator Sarbanes is a champion of the Federal Government's role in export promotion.
As the creator of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), Senator Sarbanes understands the relationship between exports and a strong national economy.
He understands the importance of nurturing small and midsize enterprises so that they can sell their products and services in global markets. He knows that when states become incubators for these kinds of companies, the companies reward their local communities with higher-paying jobs and better benefits.
I am nominated for the job as Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service at a time of great change in the domestic and international economies. You've probably heard the phrase "Think Globally, Act Locally." Now we must think and act both locally and globally at the same time.
I believe our most important function is to help companies, especially small and midsize firms, enter and succeed in markets around the world. The Commercial Service plays an important role by providing trade education programs to its citizens and assisting companies to prepare their products and services for sale in markets beyond our national borders. In the age of electronic commerce, all markets are potentially global markets. The competition in all markets is intense; the pace of change breathtaking; the opportunities unprecedented.
Congress, in its wisdom, created the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service to represent the interests of U.S. companies abroad, and to provide services at reasonable cost. The private sector understands and appreciates the unique and valuable role we play in trade education and trade promotion. This is why, whenever possible, we partner with the private sector to improve the overall benefits to U.S. companies and local economic development. We rely on the 56 District Export Councils located throughout the country, the majority of whose members are from the private sector, to help set our priorities based on what businesses need.
Demand for our services from the private sector is very strong and we expect it to continue, as more and more companies engage in global commerce as a winning business strategy. Last year we helped U.S. companies make sales worth a reported $14 billion. This year we intend to do even better.
If confirmed as Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, I will achieve a number of primary goals.
I will introduce new products and services using advanced information technology that better serve the needs of potential exporters. We are in the process now of updating and streamlining our product line to give U.S. companies a high tech tool chest that will help them more effectively compete.
I intend to increase the number of new to market exporters. Through programs such as our Rural Export Initiative and Global Diversity Initiative, I intend to increase the number of new to market exporters who are women, members of minority groups, and residents of our inner cities and economically depressed communities, and of the rural regions of our nation. Gender, ethnicity, race, place of residence, or the absence of information technology must not be barriers to participation in the emerging global economy.
I will increase and deepen partnerships with other government agencies and the private sector. We will work even more closely and creatively with partners such as the Small Business Administration, the Trade Development Agency, and the Export-Import Bank, as well as with our colleagues in the International Trade Administration.
And finally, I will work to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees so that the Commercial Service can continue to meet the high expectations that our clients have of us; so that we can excel in an Internet-driven global business environment where response time is measured not in weeks but in minutes.
The challenges are many, but I am impressed with the skill and dedication of the 1800 men and women of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Services. Impressed by and proud of these public servants who include our commercial officers serving in 84 countries around the world and the trade specialists of our domestic network. We are a diverse organization, representing a rainbow of cultures and speaking dozens of different languages. The one language we have in common is the language of international business. The one goal we share is to help U.S. businesses sell their services and products around the world.
I have worked in government for 32 years, the last 18 years as a member of the Senior Executive Service and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Public service has been my career. But more than that, public service has been my calling, and I don't have to tell the distinguished members of this committee, that it is among the highest of callings, the most important work, that anyone can have the opportunity to be a part of. I relish the chance to continue my public service as Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.
I had chosen a career in government service long before my daughter, Stephanie, was born. How long before? I like to say it was when dinosaurs roamed around what is now Washington. But I hope that I've conveyed to her what a wonderful career I have had and that anything is possible for a young woman growing up in today's United States of America. She graduated this summer from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Stephanie now works for a Washington, D.C. law firm. Unfortunately, she couldn't be here today. You know those Washington, D.C. law firms.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I'd like to thank President Clinton, former Secretary of Commerce William Daley, Secretary of Commerce Designate Mineta and Acting Secretary of Commerce Robert Mallett for their support. I also want to thank Acting Under Secretary Robert LaRussa. I look forward to working closely with him and my colleagues, Assistant Secretaries Michael Copps, Patrick Mulloy and Troy Cribb, to strengthen our international trade policies and promotion efforts. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have and welcome your comments.
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