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tv   Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo Speaks at Washington Conference on the...  CSPAN  May 10, 2021 12:41pm-1:05pm EDT

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technology for america's first responders. >> we provide that hov for public safety. most networks simply cannot handle the type of surges that occur with natural disasters. those networks are oversaturated. we have -- it acts as a foundation for all broadband medications. >> -- broadband communications. >> watch the communicators tonight on c-span two. gina raimondo speaks about u.s. trade priorities in central and south america. this recent event was part of the washington conference on the americas.
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>> she is a former governor of rhode island and has held other senior positions in government. she somehow found a way to conquer the state's $7 billion unfunded pension liability. she has a doctorate from oxford, a law degree from yale. she graduated with honors from harvard. she has private sector experience in financial markets. madam secretary, suffice it to say, to go through your entire biography, we would be here all day because it is that impressive. i suspect you would prefer to get into the conversation. ladies and gentlemen, let's get to it. please welcome me in joining the 40th u.s. commerce secretary gina raimondo. sec. raimondo: thank you.
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good afternoon, everybody. can you hear me ok? thank you to susan and the council of the americas. it is terrific for me to be here with you. i come to the position of secretary of commerce with private sector background for about a dozen years. i was a venture capital investors with a focus on health care. for the past 10 years, i have been a public servant in rhode island. it is exciting for me to be on president biden's team. he is setting a breakneck pace for the rest of us to try to keep up with. frankly, there is a lot of work to do. i will say, as you know, but it is important that you hear it from me, the president is deeply committed to sustained engagement with our partners
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throughout the western hemisphere to advance our shared vision for a future that is democratic, middle-class, and secure. the overarching goal is to support prosperity, safety, and a democratic region where the u.s. can partner with countries in that region to advance our shared interest. we trade twice as much with the countries of north, central, and south america as we do in china. there is a lot of talk about china. that is an important statistic to remember. we expert more to our neighbors in the western hemisphere that we do to all of asia combined. i do not think it is possible to overstate the importance of our economic engagement with the americas. it is also important to note that it is especially critical at this moment, the pandemic we are living through has devastated us all and wreaking
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havoc across the region. trade is estimated to have declined by over 20%, even exceeding the declines we saw in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. to say nothing of the human suffering and lives lost. the responses of governments across the region have varied. in all cases, reduction of revenue and emergency expenditures has strained budgets, added hugely to debt loads and tested the ability to deliver services. investment decisions by the private sector have been deferred until the future becomes clearer. while we expect to begin to recover, we will not reach precrisis levels of economic activity until 2023 or maybe
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after that. it is a huge challenge. our collective challenge is how do we deliver across jobs and job creation, which ultimately delivers hope, hope for our people that with the prosperity, with those jobs, there is hope and a brighter future. i would suggest our best chance for success lies in working together to address these challenges. i am very delighted to be here with you today to talk about partnership and how we work together. my primary role as secretary of commerce is to bring the united states private sector viewpoint to the u.s. government decision-making process. you know, i hope we can agree that the private sector has to play a role. government alone cannot address problems of inequality or job
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creation or building back after the pandemic. the private sector, their creativity and engine of growth and innovation, they have to also come to the table. i am eager to engage in that public-private partnerships. in the spirit of collaboration, i want to take the advice and work to create conditions under which companies and entrepreneurs can drive academic growth and can compete. fundamentally, that is my mission, to improve competitiveness. to that point, you know, we have to focus on strengthening competitiveness in the region so we continue to be strong trading partners for the world and each other. second, we have to commit ourselves to transparency. it really hurts trade and
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commerce if there is a view that competition is not fair, if there is not transparency, that there are discriminatory regulations or unfair or corrupt policies and it is very important that we work to support transparency and fairness and a level plainfield. finally -- level playing field. finally, security, the ability to preserve integrity and sovereignty to counter maligned influences that want to threaten our democracy and way of life. we are focused on competitiveness, transparency, and security, which are the pillars on which we can help build economic growth and job creation in the u.s. and in
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latin america to support recovery. we have many challenges that we will deal with together. there are many common challenges across the region, including addressing climate change -- [indiscernible] -- global economy. i am eager to work with your members, hear from your members, be advised by your members as we begin to bring solutions to the region for these challenges. great to be here. happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much. you really laid out an omission -- ambitious agenda. i know your time is limited. the last panel focused a lot of
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the time on china. and what is happening in the western hemisphere with the u.s., etc. i wonder, we are aware of some of the activities in emerging markets, what are your thoughts on how the u.s. can work with our regional partners? if you have some thoughts on that. sec. raimondo: thank you for asking the question. the president has been very clear that the best way to compete with china and counteract their maligned influence and that of other maligned actors is due in partnership with our allies. we have to invest in workers.
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[indiscernible] -- increasing trade and investment in public-private partnerships with other democratic countries and companies in those countries. >> thank you very much. a lot there we hope we can discuss at a further date. we stand ready to work with you and your team to bring the voice of the private sector save some of -- private sector to some of the discussions. in central america, you and your team are involved in these issues and the importance of the private sector voice development and achieving real results is
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paramount. i wonder what are some of the things you would be prioritizing in the context of the commerce department working with central american allies to bring sustainable development to that troubled region. sec. raimondo: i do not have to tell you that the united nations -- [indiscernible] >> we are having some connectivity problems with your feed. sec. raimondo: they asked me to turn my camera off. i do not know if that helps. >> you are coming through loud and clearly now. we can hear you well. sec. raimondo: all i was saying was before -- my primary goal is
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to increase trade and economic activity between the u.s. and countries in the region. that could take the form of more trade missions, which my office would organize to the region, it would take the form of assisting american companies to do business in the region, and frankly, making it easier to do business in the region which involves simplification, transparency, coalition building, relationships. i feel that is the way to do this because it will create jobs for the tens of millions of people that have been pushed into poverty. it is also good for american business. it is good for american business to expand their exports to build infrastructure in these regions.
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if you are building infrastructure in central america, it is good for american businesses and it is good for the community. it puts local people to work. within the ita, we have plans for increasing the amount of commerce we do between our companies and the governments and companies in the region. >> your vision aligns with hours in a meaningful way. -- with ours in a meaningful way. what a terrific advertisement that we just ran. thank you for sharing that with us. >> thank you. i am glad you enjoyed it. i was excited myself to get an
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ev hummer. madam secretary, it is great to hear from you today. my question is related to the crisis having an impact on the auto industry and others and causing rolling shutdowns. is it starting to look like it will extent into 2022? i wonder if you could tell me what you see as next steps to mitigate the worst effects on the economy. sec. raimondo: first of all, i can assure you that i began an end my day every day thinking about this issue. there is a short-term problem and then we also have to build for the long run. you just said the short-term
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problem is particularly acute in the auto industry where companies literally cannot get their hands on enough chips and they are closing factories and furloughing workers. i have been in touch with the ceos of every major auto company. we are working hard to see if we can get the taiwanese to prioritize the needs of our auto companies. there are so many american jobs on the line. not a day goes by that we do not push on that. the medium and long-term solution, making more chips in america. chips of all kinds. memory chips, lots of chips, leading-edge chips. the president has called for a
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$50 billion investment in making semi conductor chips in america, again, not a week goes by that i do not talk to several members of congress lobbying them to take action on this. either way, in the process of building another -- thousands of americans that get put to work and we will not be overly dependent on china and taiwan for our supply chain. anyway, long story short, we need to invest and we need to make chips in america and design chips in america. we make 0% of leading-edge chips in the u.s. that is a problem. we ought to be making 30% because that matches our demand. we will promise to work hard every day. in the short term, see if we can
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have more chips available so the automakers can reopen their factories. >> critical question and fantastic answer. in terms of supply chain beyond computer chips, there is a lot of discussion about shipping supply chains. covid exposed a lot of challenges. the ship getting stuck in the suez canal exposed a lot of challenges. you have global responsibility, not just western hemisphere, but our mandate -- we thought to ask you an open-ended question about any thoughts on supply chains moving into the region. are there things we should be looking for? is that something that should be a priority of the biden
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administration going forward as we look to help the region recover from the worst effects of covid? sec. raimondo: that is a fantastic question that i would be very interested to engage in with you. it is definitely the case that we have to resort -- reshore much of our supply chain in critical areas. pharmaceuticals, chemicals, semi conductors. about a year ago, or a little more than a year ago, i was up all night on the phone with manufacturers mostly in china trying to get my hands on ppe and ventilators. we did not make enough in america. we are very vulnerable. 25% of small and medium-sized
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manufacturers have gone out of business in america the past 25 years. it is critical for our national security and economic security. the next best thing to on shoring is near shoring with our share our values. the reality is, operating a country at a lower cost of labor is absolutely a good strategy. the short answer is yes and yes. we have to reassure supply chains and critical areas and we should be looking to do more work in our ally countries. >> fantastic. finally, in the minutes we have remaining, where does the western hemisphere -- as you look over the many things you have to worry about, noaa, the many agencies within the
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department, where does the western hemisphere fit into your world priorities? is that something that we from the private sector can continue to promote in a meaningful way with you and your staff? >> so i think it factors in heavily. obviously, you know, central america is struggling substantially now -- was devastated during covid. the vice president is doing a great job, you know, really leaning into this issue. as i said earlier, i would like to really have a focus on the region and put together trade missions, investment missions, concrete ways that we can do business together. which will help our economy, but also, we know we have an
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obligation to help the region rebuild and put folks to work and back to work. the only way to get people out of poverty really is to give them a job. it's a priority. and it won't be easy. it is hard. it can be hard. it is hard to do business sometimes. any areas where it is thought to be too difficult, corrupt, not transparent. we have to be realistic about that. my job is to work with you and with the private sector, with governments to make a plan to rake through those barriers. these countries need more commerce, jobs, private sector investment. and any way, big or small, that we can work together to do that, i would be eager to partner. >> your mission is terrific.
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we align with it completely. to have you saying these things in such a strong and clear manner is not just meaningful, but it carries the agenda for quite a while. thank you, madam secretary. we are partners in promoting the vision for the western hemisphere. all the things you're doing in central america and the caribbean and throughout the region, as we try to help the region come through a very difficult time in terms of the pandemic and vaccine distribution. i know your time is limited. i wish we could spend more time with you. with that, thank you again for your time. we will conclude this session. madam secretary, thank you so much. >> thank you for your work. i hope you're doing well. we will talk again soon.
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>> you got it. that will conclude our session with the secretary of commerce. terrific comments there. thank you again, madam secretary. announcer: coming up, look at -- a look at improving the legislative branch at 1:15 eastern. later this afternoon, the house panel investigates the threat assessment following the january 6 attack on the u.s. capitol. live coverage from the house administration committee starts at 3:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span -- p.m. eastern here on c-span. online at, or listen on the free c-span radio app. thanks for being with us. this headline first -- is liz cheney poised to lose the republican leadership position because of news over the weekend with leader kevin mccarthy publicly endorsing another for the top role in the house? the story ao


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