Gary Locke Archives - Shopfloor

Energy Security, Energy Reality in America, Germany

By | Energy | No Comments

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke in Milwaukee today with WisBusiness.com filing a report:

MILWAUKEE — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke told a Milwaukee audience the United States — and Wisconsin — needs to invest in alternative energy or it risks being left behind by other world powers.

“America doesn’t want to wake up five years from now asking itself how China was able to make the transition to alternative energy and not the United States,” Locke said during a speech to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce on Tuesday. “If you don’t develop your industries in alternative energies here in the state, then those jobs will be created in another state. I can tell you countries like China are spending billions of dollars to create energy alternatives.”

Locke said one way to improve the economy is to break America’s “oil addiction.” Locke said the Obama administration has made major new investments in next-generation clean energy sources like wind, solar and biofuels, as well as a national smart grid that can deliver that energy to homes and businesses across the country.

Meanwhile, in Germany, the Fukushima-inspired decision of the ruling coalition to join the Greens and Social Democrats in supporting an expedited phase-out of nuclear energy is running into problems, which is to say, reality. From Der Spiegel, “Resistance Mounts to Germany’s Ambitious Renewable Energy Plans“:

To reach its goals of a nuclear-free Germany, Merkel’s government now plans to dot all parts of the country with massive wind turbines as well as high-voltage power masts needed to create a modern smart grid to transport the electricity supply from the windy north to the southern part of the country. A €5-billion ($7.25 billion) special program to expand wind parks in the North and Baltic seas will be launched this autumn. Central to the program, Brüderle and Röttgen write, would be a “joint initiative by the federal government and the regional states to identify suitable locations for wind power facilities.” Obstacles to planning approval such as restrictions on the height and spacing of the turbines “will be removed,” the paper says. …

Those are the requirements of the current zeitgeist, say the green revolutionaries in Merkel’s center-right coalition. They have public opinion behind them: More than 80 percent of Germans want to see the country abandon nuclear energy. But there is one major caveat: When it comes to major energy projects, most Germans do not want them in their own backyard. Just as soon as plans are unveiled for mass wind turbines near residential areas, home owners and locals are quick to organize local campaigns to halt construction.

Indeed, NIMBY is a phenomenon found across prosperous, industrialized countries. Read More

Snuff Out the Chinese ‘Rippos’

By | intellectual property | No Comments

The average consumer probably associates Chinese counterfeiting with fake luxury watches, high fashion, purses, luggage and maybe DVDs, but the attacks against U.S. goods, company reputations and intellectual property go far beyond that.

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on the threat posed to Zippo, the U.S. manufacturer of the iconic lighters, by “rippos,” the bogus lighters produced in China. Zippo’s single factory in Bradford, Penn., produces 12 million lighters a year — about the same number as the fake ones churned out by Chinese companies.

And with Zippo providing a lifetime guarantee to repair the lighters it produced, the counterfeits represent a burning problem.

From “The Lighter Side of Counterfeiting Puts Zippo in a Fix” [subscription]:

BRADFORD, Pa.—”Always works—or we fix it” has, with minor tinkering, been a Zippo lighter slogan since 1937. “It is a profound statement of quality,” says Greg Booth, Zippo Manufacturing Co.’s chief executive. It also means Zippo has to fix a lot of lighters.

The task falls to three “clinics”—two abroad and one here in Zippo’s hometown—that fix more than 100,000 lighters a year. Quite a few Zippos get mangled when they slip out of pockets into the mechanism of recliners. One was ingested (but not digested) by a pig. Usually, a new screw or spring will put it back in working order.

Fulfilling the forever guarantee would pose little challenge, in fact, if a huge number of Zippos didn’t happen to be rippos.

The Journal highlights the work of one Zippo veteran whose job it is to spot the counterfeits, an increasingly difficult task as the quality of the fakes improves.

Despite the article’s amusing observations, the problem is not funny. Neither is it a new one. The local paper, The Bradford Era, reported on the Chinese counterfeiting in August, 2004, “Counterfeiting of Zippo lighters in China affecting Bradford,” tied to a company visit by a Commerce Department official. The Bush Administration worked hard on the issue, and the Obama Administration is as well. Read More

Secretary Locke Visits Cummins, U.S. Manufacturer in São Paulo

By | Trade | No Comments

Commerce Secretary Locke shone a welcome spotlight on an Indiana-based business with a global reach when he visited a Cummins operation in São Paulo over the weekend. From the Commerce blog, “Commerce Secretary Locke Delivers Keynote Address on U.S.-Brazil Relations at the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil and Visits Cummins Production Facility“:

Commerce Secretary Locke examines Cummins engine

Locke toured the Brazilian production and research facilities of Cummins Inc., which produces engines and related components, and emissions solutions technology. Locke was joined by Tim Solso, Chairman and CEO.

Cummins, Inc., headquartered in Columbus, Ind., has invested in the local São Paulo community in which they built their facility.  They created a day care center, built a school and a health clinic, as well created a job training program that teaches unemployed women how to sew.

Also, photos here and here.

U.S. companies are better able to serve regional and national markets through operations overseas, and Locke has highlighted Cummins as  an example last year at a U.S.-Russian Business Summit.

Several U.S. and Russian companies and institutions signed business deals and announced new cooperation surrounding today’s summit, including a commitment by Russian State Corporation Rostechnologii to purchase 50 Boeing Co. 737 aircraft, and an expansion of a joint venture between U.S. engine manufacturer Cummins and Russian truck builder Kamaz to allow production of a new, low-emissions diesel engine in Russia.

Circumnetting Goings On at the Department of Commerce

By | Economy, Innovation, Trade | No Comments

Many things worth noting at the Department of Commerce last week, including Secretary Gary Locke’s travels to Brazil with President Obama:

Commerce.gov, March 20, news release,
“Secretary Locke Tours Embrear, Encourages Increasing the Commercial Relationship Between U.S and Brazil”:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today encouraged stronger U.S.-Brazil commercial relations during a visit to Embraer manufacturing facility outside Sao Paulo. Embraer is a Brazilian manufacturer of commercial, general aviation, and defense aircraft. Locke toured the facility and saw firsthand how the company incorporates significant U.S. aviation content into its supply chain. He also applauded the company for it integrated supply chain and encouraged further integration with American small-medium-sized enterprises.

“Embreaer is a shining example of partnership between U.S. and Brazilian manufacturing that is a “win-win” and creates jobs in both countries,” Locke said.

According to Embraer, the company has imported over $6 billion in goods from U.S. companies over the last five years. Embraer recently opened an assembly facility in Melbourne, Fla. and currently employs 660 people in the United States at 5 facilities.

Commerce.gov, March 18, news release, “Secretary Locke Advances U.S.-Brazil Trade Relationship During Presidential Trip“:

Locke met with Fernando Pimentel, the Brazilian Minister of Development Industry and Foreign Trade to discuss ongoing cooperation on key commercial relationship issues and the short- and long-term priorities of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum.

Earlier in the day, Locke met with Antonio Palocci, President Dilma Rousseff’s Chief of Staff and co-chair of the U.S.-Brazil CEO forum, to discuss increased commercial engagement between the two countries. He discussed improving cooperation on Intellectual Property Rights issues with Brazilian Minister of Culture Ana de Hollanda.

Commerce.gov, March 17
, “U.S. Commerce Department Taps Chicago Business Leader to be its Liaison to the Private Sector“:

The U.S. Commerce Department today announced that Matthew T. McGuire will be joining the agency as Assistant to the Secretary and Director of the Office of Business Liaison. In this position, he will be leading the Department’s efforts to engage the business community on some of the Obama Administration’s top policy priorities, while continuing to strengthen partnerships between the public and private sectors.
Read More

Good Lucke to Locke

By | Trade | No Comments

President Obama is going to nominate Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to serve as ambassador to China, numerous news agencies report. We wish him good luck on an enormous challenge.

Testimony and Then Questions About Manufacturing in America

By | General | No Comments

Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) of the Senate Commerce Committee, who is chairing a hearing this morning, “The Future of American Manufacturing: Maintaining America’s Competitive Edge,” said manufacturing will be major theme in his committee this year.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has already spoken, and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke just completed his statement as we write. We thank both for mentioning the National Association of Manufacturers.

Here are the prepared statements:

Secretary Locke will be answering questions from the public about his remarks and U.S. manufacturing. From Commerce:

Secretary Locke will be answering questions from Senators during the hearing, but afterwards he wants to hear from you. We invite you to watch the hearing and submit questions about manufacturing via comments on this post, Twitter (use hashtag #LockeChat) and on our Facebook page. As the Secretary’s schedule permits, he’ll answer some of the questions throughout the day.

As a primer, watch the video below. In it U.S. companies from a wide range of industries from health care to plastics talk about why they manufacture their goods in America. The United States offers a highly educated workforce, strong intellectual property protections, and a business climate that supports and encourages innovation. For ET Water, Labcon, Supracor and others, manufacturing in America just makes smart business sense.

In India, Secretary Locke Notes Trade Opportunities, Obstacles

By | Taxation, Trade | No Comments

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke gave the keynote speech today at an event sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi, one of the events on a trade and business mission he is leading through India this week. Twenty-four U.S. businesses are represented on the trip, including several manufacturers.

The Commerce Department is blogging the trip. Key excerpt from the secretary’s speech:

Between 2004 and 2008, trade doubled between India and the United States. 

And ours is increasingly a partnership of equals. . .

. . . With major U.S. multinationals like Cisco, GE and IBM locating major research and development facilities here, and depending on Indian scientists and engineers to do growing amounts of higher value-added work.

I think the growing respect that U.S. businesses have for India can be summed up by the words of a Cisco executive who said:

We came to India for the costs, we stayed for the quality and we’re now investing for innovation.

Key caveat:

Even though India has made tremendous strides to open up its economy, there is much work left to be done. Read More

On a Business Mission to India

By | Technology, Trade | No Comments

From the Department of Commerce, “High-Technology Trade Mission To India with Secretary Locke and 24 U.S. Companies Kicks Off“:

Today, Secretary Locke kicked off a high-technology trade mission today in New Delhi to promote exports of leading U.S. technologies and services related to civil nuclear energy, civil aviation, defense and homeland security, and information and communications technology. The mission will continue through February 11, and also make stops in Bangalore and Mumbai. 

His first stop was at a neighborhood grocery store in New Delhi that is using technology developed by a U.S. company to market its products, manage its customers and organize its business operations.  Intuit, based in Mountain View, Calif., created “GoConnect,” a new innovative mobile and web-based marketing service that is helping Indian micro and small businesses grow and improve the way they communicate with their customers.

Export controls will perforce be a major focus of the mission. Also, Secretary Locke will speak to the Confederation of Indian Industry on Monday in New Delhi.  

 The Secretary and others — including participating companies — will be highlighting the trip on Commerce.gov’s blog (commerce.gov/blog) and Twitter feeds (@SecLocke and @CommerceGov).

President’s Visit to GE Schenectady Highlights Energy, Manufacturing, India

By | Energy, Trade | No Comments

From the White House’s weekly schedule for President Obama, posted by Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times:

[The] President will travel to Schenectady, New York to visit the birthplace of General Electric. The site is home to GE’s largest energy division, including steam turbines, generators, wind and solar, and the future home of GE’s advanced battery manufacturing facility. The President will tour the site with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and he will make remarks on the importance of growing the economy and making America more competitive by investing in jobs, innovation and clean energy. The GE plant in Schenectady is a direct beneficiary of GE’s power turbine deal with India announced during the President’s trip last November.

The President’s visit was rescheduled from last week after the shootings in Tuscon.

We’re glad to see the White House emphasize corporate involvement in India, the kind of global investment that creates wealth and jobs in the United States. From GE’s news release, Oct. 25, 2010, “GE Wins Largest Gas Turbine Combined-Cycle Order in India“:

SAMALKOT, India–25 October 2010– Reliance Power Ltd. of India has selected GE’s (NYSE: GE) flexible, efficient power generation technology for a 2,400-megawatt expansion of the Samalkot power plant in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. This will represent the largest gas turbine combined-cycle project in India’s history and will help the country meet its continuing demand for reliable electricity to support its rapidly growing economy.

Under contracts totaling over $750 million, GE will supply six Frame 9FA gas turbines, three D-11 steam turbines, training and long-term services for the project. GE’s 9FA combined-cycle technology is proven in applications worldwide. In a combined-cycle configuration, exhaust gas from a gas turbine-generator is converted to steam, which is used to drive a steam turbine-generator, enabling the plant to produce additional power without an increase in fuel consumption. The new plant is expected to enter simple-cycle (gas turbines only) service in the first half of 2012 and combined-cycle (gas and steam turbines) in the second half of that year.

See also GE, “October Deal Tally in India Tops $1.4 Billion with Turbine Order.”

Commerce Secretary Locke on Friday announced a high-tech trade mission to India for February, with manufacturers a major presence.

Twenty-four U.S. businesses will join Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for a business development mission to India on February 6-11.  The businesses joining the trade mission are based in 13 states across the country and more than half of them are small- and medium-sized companies.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, where Locke will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the advanced industrial sectors, of civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation, and information and communication technologies. Locke accompanied President Obama to India in November, where they witnessed more than $10 billion in business deals between U.S. companies and Indian private sector and government entities, supporting 50,000 American jobs.

“Exports are leading the U.S. economic recovery, spurring future economic growth and creating jobs in America,” Locke said. “The business leaders joining me on this mission see the great potential to sell their goods and services to India, helping drive innovation and create jobs in both countries.”

Secretary Locke met last week with India’s ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar.

Cross-Border Trucking Plan Boosts Manufacturing Exports to Mexico

By | Infrastructure, Regulations, Trade | One Comment

We can’t say the Mexican trucking dispute is over, but we can now say that, at last, the end appears to be in sight. Almost two years after Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars of American manufactured goods exports, the Obama Administration has released a long-awaited “Concept Document” that provides a foundation that, if it can be successfully turned into a mutually acceptable proposal, will lead to compliance with our NAFTA commitments and the removal of Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. exports.

While release of the interagency document is an excellent development and very good news, we are not out of the woods just yet. It will take substantial effort on the part of the Obama Administration and Congress to work through the concepts in this proposal and create a final agreement acceptable to all parties. Public comments will be solicited. And, of course, the Mexican government will need to be an integral part of any agreement. A solution will need to ensure that Mexican and American cross-border trucking takes place in a manner similar to the existing cross-border trucking that has existed between the United States and Canada. The good news is that a successful solution will speed commerce and increase productivity and efficiency in supply chains.

But only after a final agreement is reached and we are compliant with our NAFTA commitments will the tariffs be removed. And Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs have had an significant impact on a wide variety of industrial sectors across the entire country. For two years, manufacturers around the United States have faced these retaliatory tariffs on their exports to Mexico. As a result, our competitors from Canada, Latin America, China and elsewhere have had an opportunity to increase their market share in Mexico at our expense. We need to move swiftly toward a solution so the tariffs can be eliminated.

Still, we appreciate the efforts put forth by the Administration in its interagency process to develop and release this concept document. The proposal released today will form the basis on which discussions between the United States and Mexico (with input from Congress and a public comment period) will take place. We strongly encourage all parties involved to buckle up, buckle down and get moving. Every day that passes means unnecessary barriers to American exports remain in place.

Department of Transportation release, “U.S. Cross-Border Trucking Effort Emphasizes Safety and Efficiency