Francisco Sanchez, Department of Commerce Under Secretary, discusses how much emphasis is being placed on exporting clean tech solutions.

Full Transcript:

Ben Lack: I’m here with Under Secretary of Commerce, Francisco Sanchez. Thanks so much for being with us.
Francisco Sanchez:  Thank you, Ben. Good to be with you.
Ben Lack: President Obama wants to double American exports over the next five years. You’re here at a CleanTech Summit. Could you talk to us a little bit about what type of role CleanTech plays in the growth of exports?
Francisco Sanchez: CleanTech is a growing sector not only in our country but around the world. We have some of the best technology to offer the world. As we go to double exports, and let me just take a minute Ben to talk about why that matters. Last year, the growth in our GDP, 50% of that growth came from exports. We need to have a robust export sector and a big component of that will be in alternative energy.
Ben Lack: You do a lot of international travel and you’re promoting American businesses overseas.
Francisco Sanchez: Yes.
Ben Lack: Talk to us a little bit about some of the successes that you have with other countries for the Clean Tech community.
Francisco Sanchez: We’ve had a lot of successes. In fact, last year we had 1500 export successes. These are companies that we assisted in getting a deal done; 1500 of them totalling billions of dollars that came from the energy sector. They came from smart grid technology. They came from solar, from wind energy, and all kinds of sub-components within this sector. So, it is a tremendous opportunity for American business and we’re excited about helping them exploit that world market.
Ben Lack: In an effort to give our audience some kind of an inside look of the day-to-day activities that you guys do, one of the objectives that you mentioned today was doing these trade trips numbered at a host of organizations. And that there was one recently that was really focused on Clean Tech. Can you give a little insight as to what that was like?
Francisco Sanchez: Actually, Ben, last year we did over 600 activities that were focused on the energy sector. Everything from trade shows where we brought buyers from abroad to look at our technology to trade missions where we take American companies to a particular market. We arrange all of their meetings so that they don’t waste any time when they’re on the ground. We do these sometimes on our own through the Department of Commerce; but often times in partnership. So, we’re doing one this August with the U.S.- Brazil Business Council; and it will be one focused on energy with the big alternative energy component. We’re really excited about what this sector offers, so we’re going to continue to do things like trade shows and trade missions and personalize trips for companies that want to get in to a new market.
Ben Lack: Obviously there’s going to be a lot of growth opportunity over the next couple of decades; but there are some definite threats to how fast that we can get there. Talk to us a little bit about what you see those threats bring; and what can U.S. do to overcome those?
Francisco Sanchez: I think the single biggest threat is making sure that we have a level playing field for American companies abroad. We have some of the smartest, most innovative companies in the world and they can compete anywhere as long as there’s a level playing field. When countries start changing the rules to favor their companies over technology from abroad, that doesn’t help our companies. But quite frankly it doesn’t help that country because they should want the best technology in the world. So, one of the things that we’re going to continue to do is fight for fair rules that doesn’t favor a local company over an international company. If we can do that across the world, our technology is going to win most of the time.
Ben Lack: John Bryson has become nominated to become the new Secretary of Commerce. I’d like to get your thoughts on what that might do for Clean Tech because he’s been a member of this community for so long.
Francisco Sanchez: John Bryson is going to be a welcome addition to the Department of Commerce. We are very excited about having him as the leader of this Department. The alternative energy sector should be very excited because here is a man who understands this industry, who understands its potential, its opportunities and its challenges. I’m hoping that the Congress confirms his nomination soon so he can get to work. He’s going to be good for this sector, and actually, good for America.
Ben Lack: Undersecretary Sanchez, you’ve been in the private sector, you’ve been in the public sector. I’m curious to know why you are doing what you’re doing.
Francisco Sanchez: I want to have a strong, robust American economy. I believe with all my heart that in order to have that we have to have a robust export sector. So, I want to commit at least some years of my life to helping build that that export sector, make sure that we have a strong economy, and that America takes advantage of the global market place.
Ben Lack: Thanks so much for your time.
Francisco Sanchez: Ben thanks for having me.