Sunday, March 25, 2012

Exports aid New Orleans' comeback

Exports aid New Orleans' comeback: A guest column by Francisco J. Sanchez

Letters to the Editor 
Louisiana products represent quality and value. So, it's no surprise that these goods are increasingly in demand in markets all over the world --- in fact, more so than ever before. In 2011, more than $55 billion dollars worth of Louisiana merchandise was exported overseas. This is an all-time record. It is an increase of 33 percent from the previous year, and also signals good news for local economies.
port_of_new_orleans_napoleon_street_wharf_containers.JPGView full sizeContainers stacked at the Port of New Orleans' Napoleon Avenue Wharf were photographed in April 2009.
In 2010, the New Orleans metropolitan area was the 19th largest export market. It accounted for roughly 60 percent of Louisiana's exports. And, it was a top U.S. exporter in industries ranging from crop production to fishing and hunting.
The impact of these exports goes way beyond the numbers. When businesses sell more goods, they generate more revenue that can strengthen bottom lines and support good American jobs. In fact, every billion dollars in U.S. exports supports more than 5,000 jobs in the States.
So it's important for New Orleans' economic future to get more businesses to participate in the international markets.
To help achieve this goal, I was proud to announce a new initiative with the World Trade Center of New Orleans on Thursday. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding, signaling the beginning of a new chapter in our long partnership.
Together, we will initiate marketing efforts to raise awareness in the New Orleans business community about the potential for success overseas.
There is a great need for this work. 95 percent of the world's consumers are outside the United States, and this memorandum will help local businesses make the most of these opportunities by boosting exports.
These goals are aligned with President Obama's National Export Initiative, which was launched in 2010 with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. This month marks the NEI's two-year anniversary and there have been a number of successes.
Last year alone, there were roughly $2.1 trillion in U.S. exports -- a record.
To keep the momentum going, the Obama Administration has initiated a number of initiatives. One effort is through policies like the trade agreements passed last year with Korea, Panama and Colombia. They will have a significant impact.
For example, the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement took effect last week, meaning that almost 80 percent of American exports of industrial products to Korea are now able to enter without getting taxed.
The costs of doing business have dropped. The potential for profits have grown. Opportunities for U.S. businesses to succeed in Korea have expanded.
One other goal we continue to pursue is linking U.S. businesses with international opportunities.
A prime example is through travel and tourism. It's an important sector.
This week, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that 62 million international visitors came to our country in 2011. These international visitors spent an all-time record of $153 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services.
We've got to keep inviting people to our shores. In January, President Obama announced a new initiative to boost these sectors by increasing promotion of the United States as a tourism destination and improving secure visa processing.
These efforts will make a difference for New Orleans. The city is a great tourist attraction in part because of events like Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and, in 2013, the Super Bowl.
We want more international visitors coming to town, spending money at local restaurants, hotels and shops.
And we're working to make it happen. In the past seven years, New Orleans has inspired the nation with its strength.
It has made quite a comeback, led in part by the creativity and ingenuity of local businesses. They deserve credit for their resiliency. They also deserve every opportunity to succeed.
The administration stands ready to help businesses get these opportunities in the international markets. Local products are in demand all over the world.
So, let's sell them across the globe. Today.
Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, leads the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, which promotes U.S. businesses and competitiveness. He can be reached at

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