Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker talks about "commercial diplomacy" and challenges faced joining the Commerce Department. Introductions by Susan Collins and J. Ira Harris. February, 2016.
>> Good afternoon everybody and welcome. It's wonderful to have all of you here with us this afternoon. I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Wilde Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and simply honored to be hosting a very, very special event today. That is in honor of J. Ira Harris the J. Ira Harris lecture featuring the 38th United States Secretary of Commerce the Honorable Penny Pritzker. So I'd like to begin by first recognizing some very special people here with us today. Of course our featured speaker Secretary Pritzker thank you so much for being here, we're delighted to welcome you. Our guest of honor Mr. J. Ira Harris, who is here as well. We're delighted to have a number of members of the Harris family who are here with us. Mrs. Nikki Harris is here and their son John Harris and his wife Jennifer as well as their daughter Jackie, and so we are delighted to have all of you with us. Michigan's Vice President for Development is here this evening as well, Jerry May, thank you for joining us. Well today's gathering was made possible by Ira's good friends with a special thanks to Bonnie Tesch. Their names are all in your program and many of them are here with us this evening. They gave a generous gift to Michigan and asked us to host a major event in honor of a special milestone birthday for Ira. The public intellectual nature of their gift really recognizes Ira's curiosity and his passion for education policy and leadership and their gift honors Ira's abiding love for his alma mater. The incredible generosity of Ira and Nikki Harris has really transformed the University of Michigan from the hospital and the medical school, to the north of the campus, to the athletic campus in the South, from the College of Engineering, to the Literature Science and the Arts. The Ross School of Business, the library, the Museum of Art, the office of financial aid, and at the Ford school, Ira, Nikki and their family created the J. Ira and Nikki Harris family Professorship of Public Policy which is held by my colleague Barry Rabe who is also here with us today. They've been incredibly generous with their time and their expertise as well, and for more than 20 years Ira has been an active member of the University's investment advisory committee, contributing his world-class financial acumen to helping the university maximize the growth of its endowment. And he served for many years on the President's advisory group. President Mark Schlissel, who was not able to join us today, has instead sent a formal letter of both gratitude and congratulations and we look forward to presenting that to Ira during the reception. So on behalf of the University of Michigan, thank you Ira and Nikki for your inspiring commitment and your dedication, we really, really appreciate it. Ira I'd also like to thank you personally for providing me with this opportunity to tell such a distinguished group just a bit about the school that it is my honor to lead. And so before I turn things over to Mr. Harris to introduce our keynote speaker more fully, I'd like to take just a moment or two to tell you about the Ford school. Founded in 1914 as the nation's first program of its kind, we were named in 1999 for University of Michigan's pride, President Gerald R. Ford. The President's legacy is alive and well at the Ford school where our students learn about, and are inspired by, his exemplary career in public service and his lifelong commitment to bridging ideological divides. At its core the Ford school's mission is improving lives, advancing the human condition. We provide our students with a skill set that's increasingly in demand in a world that, as we all know, is getting smaller and more interconnected, that's changing at breakneck speed and becoming ever more complex. We provide our students with the analytic and creative skills to harness the complexity of the 21st century. Our students learn to analyze complex data sets, to evaluate benefits and costs, to speak and write clearly and persuasively, to think critically and compassionately recognizing the multiple perspectives. To craft and enact solutions where others may only see dead ends. Well that's our curriculum, that's the professional toolkit that our students take out into the world, and they find that those tools are as valuable in business and finance in the nonprofit enterprise as they are for the public sector. Our faculty aren't just outstanding teachers, they're also vitally engaged in the real world policy issues at the highest levels. Emeritus Professor Sheldon Danziger who is also here with us this evening is one of the nation's foremost experts on poverty and inequality, and he now leads the Russell Sage foundation, America's principal foundation dedicated to social science research. The expertise of Harris family Professor Barry Rabe is widely sought by top journalists from around the world. His research and his outreach shape public understanding of climate change and energy both the politics and the policy. Professor Robert Axelrod's seminal work on game theory made him one of the most cited political scientists ever, and the first to be awarded the national medal of science in over 25 years. He now advises the State Department on the threat of cyber terrorism. And Ford school professor Susan Dynarski saw years of research and persuasion come to fruition last year, when the Department of Education dramatically shortened the FAFSA form to make it easier for disadvantaged kids to go to college. A first generation college student herself, Sue's work also led the University of Michigan to launch the Hail program which will enable scores of talented low income students to attend and to succeed at the University of Michigan. Our alumni, they're helping rebuild Detroit, they're leaders in major public school systems, the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, International Aid agencies, National Science Foundation, Accenture and so many more. Those are the stories, that's the work of the Ford school. And so on behalf of our faculty, our students and our staff and of course of the broader University of Michigan community, I welcome all of you here for this really truly happy occasion. So in a moment I will invite Ira to introduce our speaker, after her remarks there'll be some time for your questions. Please write them on the question cards that you've received. And if you will pass them to your right, then staff will be there to gather them for the question answer session. Now you'll find an overview in your program of the incredibly distinguished successful career forged by Ira Harris. After decades of prominence in business and finance with leadership roles at Salomon Brothers and Lazard Forayers and Company, he is now the chairman of the financial consulting firm Jay Ira Harris and Associates. In addition to their generosity to the University of Michigan, Ira and Nikki had been active in a wide variety of charitable organizations including the Chicago Public Library, Northwestern University, the National Center for Learning Disabilities and many, many more. So please join me now in another round of applause as we welcome our dear friend J. Ira Harris to the podium.
[ Applause ]
>> First I want to pick on at my friend Bonnie Tish for doing this, because the truth was the generosity of all my friends to this wonderful cause. I didn't get ties, I did get sweaters for my birthday, but I got to tell you, it could've been anything better than this. And I would tell you, if any of you sat with us back with the students with Penny, the total reward has already been there. She's so phenomenal and talking with our next generation, and they should all know that there is a summer intern program of the Commerce Department and if you apply you should write a letter and say I met you at the Michigan lecture. I just wanted to minute to introduce Bill Daly my good friend from Chicago who had been the Secretary of Commerce and was given so much in his life. And has just been really good friend. Eric Canter, our former Majority Leader of Congress, who is now thank God in the real world, and put so much back into it. And I've really been very fortunate having so many friends that have put so much of their time and effort back into the public sector. I do got to tell you all a very funny story, about has to do with the creation of the Ford school. I got to know President Ford after he had been president everything else and Nikki I really hit it off when he and his wife Betty was one of the great women of our time. And when this whole thing started to create the school, I obviously was asked to get involved which I did. Now a very major donator to the school whose name is on the building is Sandy While unfortunately who's out in California. So we're now talking about, I'm trying to give you the example of the public private sector, of going to approach Sandy to donate. Sandy loves the President, the president had been involved with Sandy for many, many years. So I call Ford on a Saturday and said look, we're going to meet, I'm taking Mary Sue in on Tuesday we're to meet with Sandy to talk about the school. But I said you got a call him today to tell him how important this project is to her. So President says to me, Ira you know I hate to call people to talk to them to ask them for anything. So I said to him "look, I want you to turn the clock back about 30 years. Make believe you're in Grand Rapids, running for Congress on a Saturday afternoon dialing for dollars." Okay, this is what you got to do, because if you don't call Sandy to tell him it's important you know we're not going to get any where's.. Half hour later he calls me back he says, "I did it, I did it, I think we got him." I said okay we'll work on it. So now we meet with Sandy and Sandy had this great love for President Ford as, Jeff Lain here who served on boards with both of them know. And Sandy made a gift of 5 million dollars, which was a terrific gift towards the naming of the building and everything else. So the next thing that happens is about three months later I get this urgent phone call from Mary Sue Coleman, whose the president of Michigan. She says to me "Ira I got problems." I said "what's your problem?" She says "We got a regents meeting this afternoon, and on the agenda is to approve the naming of the school and everything else. " And I said "yes, what's the problem?" She says "Well Sandy's gift is only 36 percent of the value of the building because it's run a little bit extra. And some of the regions are very upset, that we have this rule at Michigan that the name you give should be 40 percent. And they're concerned that we're creating a precedent." So I said to Mary Sue, "Good! Tell the regents we're creating a President. Any building named after an ex-president whose an alumnus of the school, you only got to out up 36 percent to do it" and I said "See what they do." There wasn't a one regent that, after she said that, that had the guts to say a word. It was, they decided they'd create a new precedent. But Sandy has been really terrific towards this and you know has named the Dean and other things and made great supporters and I'll tell you the president was really interested in going on and see this school and it was one of his accomplishments that he loved very much. Well today I can tell you how happy I am. I can't tell you how lucky Nikki and I are to have such wonderful friends that we got. I've got two of my three kids here today which have always made us very proud. And you know when we got the idea of calling Penny. I called her up on the phone and I mean I couldn't even finish the sentence of asking her, would she do this she said "absolutely". Nikki and I have known Penny since she was a young girl. We've been so proud of watching her emerge all, over all these years and to being just one of the most outstanding people that we know. We had the great pleasure of being very close with her mother and father, and also after they had both passed away to watch Penny become a mother of bringing up her younger brothers and this is someone that has constantly done it. Let me just say a few things. She's been 38 secretary of commerce since June 2013. She's done an unbelievable job focusing on business. She has very much made her position that she's Switzerland, and her job is just to develop business for the United States and do the best job. The things that she has done have been creative. Taking all the experience of the different businesses she's been in in doing this. She's probably met with over 2000 CEOs and she doesn't, when she meets with them she wants to listen. She created this open for business agenda which you talk to our students about today which has been unbelievable, of really going out and try and encourage, you know, investment back in the United States. She earned her Bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University and a JD and MBA from Stanford University, which you know are both the Michigan's of the East and the West Coast. So you know, she didn't, she didn't want to come to the real Michigan but she went to the Michigans of both Coasts. All I can tell you is I love her, she's fantastic, I'm so proud of her and I can't thank her enough. Not only did she come and agree to do the speech, but when the school called her and asked her would she meet with the students as you see we've got 15 students that came in from the school. She said absolutely, that's who I really want to talk to are the students. So Penny I love ya, I'll always love ya. I warned her security that I know her for a long time so they didn't get upset when I went to kiss her.
>> I should sit down now, that was the best part of the day. Ira, thank you very much. Dean Collins, thank you as well and I am really honored to be here tonight. I'm really honored to deliver the first J. Ira Harris lecture, that's really extraordinary. You know Ira, you know this, you are loved, you're respected, you're appreciated by this community for all that you've done on behalf of this great university. You know, thank you for all the scholarships you and Nikki have created and the professorships that you've endowed. Thank you for the seemingly endless amount of support that you've given the College of Literature Science and Arts, the Stephen Ross School of Business, the Ford school of Public policy, and of course the University athletics program. There's no question the two of you mean a great deal to the students, the faculty, and the supporters of the University of Michigan. I'm here today because you mean so much to me. You know, ladies and gentlemen, Ira Harris is been part of my life since I was born. He was, as he said, close to my mom and dad Nikki and Ira were very close friends with my mother and father, and you know you can ask him about the time he put nail polish on my father's feet. But, and he used to call our house every morning at 6:30 in the morning, waking my mother up which is never really a good thing to do. We've been close for a very, very long time. So much so that when my husband Brian and I decided that we were going to renew our wedding vows for our 25th wedding anniversary there was only one person we wanted to officiate and that was Ira. He agreed in a heartbeat, in fact I think he had to stand up somebody in this room and I'm not sure who, but thank you for your patience with that. There's one little detail about that day that I'm sure you will appreciate which is Ira showed up for the occasion dressed in his full University of Michigan robes with his academic Tam on. It was the perfect outfit for officiating at our wedding celebration. I've always relied on Ira for his advice and counsel. His nature is to be, and you all know him as well as I do, is both cautious and analytical without being cynical. When I asked Ira whether I should step out of my business world and accept the honor of being Secretary of Commerce, his natural instincts were on full display. A lot of people were counseling me against it. They worried that after 27 years in the private sector, the bureaucracy and the politics would frustrate me. Ira encouraged me to think it through and asked me a couple of key questions. How would a CEO Secretary be uniquely different in the role? How would business experience and skill translate in the public policy arena? How do you lead an agency five years into an administration when you only have three and a half years left? How do you become an integral part of the process which is well under way while also putting your own stamp on the place and its priorities? How could we gain bi-partisan support for that agenda? Ira asked those questions, and then he encouraged me to take the job. So let me tell you what it's like to step out of your life. I had to resign from everything. Every board, every business, and even our own family foundation. It's like going into the witness protection program So on my first day of work I sat in the conference room with about 50 people, and they're all staring at me, and these are now my closest colleagues and I had neither hired them nor had I ever seen them before. And they begin rattling off the acronyms like NTIA and BIS and PTO and ESA and ITA and EDA and NOAH and NIST and, oh my God. In less than an hour on the job and I'm drowning in the proverbial Washington DC alphabet soup. But attached all those acronyms were some very serious economic policy issues and considerations that I would quickly need to master. And it was really somewhat terrifying. I thought I knew that what the Commerce Department did, but I really had no idea of its true depth and breath. Commerce had 12 different bureaus under its umbrella, and when I say different, I mean really different. It's responsible for everything from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to the International Trade Administration, to the Patent And Trade Administration, to the Census Bureau. So think of it this way, we count both fish and people. We issue both patents and weather warnings. We negotiate trade deals and make sense of big data. In fact, every day we generate enough data in terabytes to fill two libraries of Congress, every single day. So it became clear that the first to be successful in my new role I had to be all in. So I moved my life to our nation's capital. And it also became clear that I needed to time to develop my priorities and a vision for the department. So I announced that I would take a hundred days to accomplish three things. First we would put the right people in the right jobs. So when I took over as secretary about 80 percent of the leadership positions in the office of the secretary which is about hundred people were vacant. And 80 percent of our Senate-confirmed positions were also vacant. Second objective in the first hundred days was hearing from our stakeholders. So I went on this listening tour, both within the department across Capitol Hill, and across our country. And third we had to develop a set, a strategy with a set of priorities. And so during those hundred days, we developed what the call are open for business agenda that continues to drive our work each and every day. The phrase really has two meanings. America is open for business, but also that commerce would be opening new markets and opportunities for American businesses around the world. The agenda has four pillars that encompass every task the Department of Commerce is responsible for, Trade and Investment, Innovation, Environment, and Data. So this framework gave every bureau in the Department of Commerce the opportunity and the permission to identify where they fit in within the overall plan. It clarified the direction we were headed together, and it enabled each bureau to develop individual strategies to meet their specific goals. Also made the decision to position the office, the Executive Office of the Secretary, my senior team and me, as the tip of the inverted triangle, I can't do a triangle very well but think of an inverted triangle. Yes an inverted pyramid. The way I saw it, we were there to serve the department not the other way around. And so over the past three years, not quite three years a couple months short, our open for business agenda has unleashed the creativity, the capacity and the power of the 45,000 people within the 12 bureaus that comprise our department. And together we've begun to transform the Department of Commerce into a true Department of Business that works with the private sector on policy development, helps firms of all sizes enter new markets, and supports the development and expansion of the different digital economy. Tonight I'd like to focus for a few minutes on one of the most exciting innovations, commercial diplomacy. Commercial diplomacy uses the power of American business to influence policy in markets around the world. Our world is too complex, our challenges are too deep and the players too diverse for us to depend solely on traditional military and diplomatic tools. In the modern world commerce must be part of our foreign policy toolkit. It's the third leg of the national security stool. So for decades, the United States has played a unique leadership role in the world. At the end of World War II, American and its allies built a rules based international system that promoted openness, creativity as well as political and economic freedom. From the Marshall plan to the Berlin airlift to our intervention in the Balkans, we relied on the unquestioned military, financial, and diplomatic power of our government to strengthen our postwar system. But over the decades the world has changed, and the tools we use to address our foreign policy challenges must change as well. For the first time in history we are truly a global economy. The size of the global middle class has doubled over the past decade and will double again by 2030. Global networks connect business to business and business to consumers in ways that have never before been possible. It means that every US business has access to literally a world of new customers. So like all great innovations, our vision for commercial diplomacy was sparked by a light bulb moment. It came in a large multilateral meeting three years ago in Asia, when a senior Indonesian official approached me with a special request on behalf of his government. The Indonesian government wanted Apple to open a store in Jakarta. And the official asked me to reach out to Tim Cook the CEO. This was a curious request, because the Indonesian government was among the countries trying to implement a data localization policy. So data localization requires the store of user data on server to keep that data on servers physically situated in a country where the data originates. So this Indonesian policy was in direct conflict with the goal of generating a new, high profile investment given Apple's commitment to the cloud. So right then it occurred to us that the voices of American commerce with long-term capital and world-class products and services behind them carry immense weight around the world. So America's top executives could be deployed to make persuasive business cases to foreign officials about how certain public policies might be counterproductive. So we realized that we could make the Tim Cook's of the world great partners in affecting economic policy change around the world and this is the beginning of commercial diplomacy. Fundamentally, commercial diplomacy brings business leaders to the table as advocates and emissaries in concert with government officials when and where our interests align. Now we at the Department of Commerce are consistently engaging American executives in ways that have never been done before. We asked him to join meetings and policy dialogues, and in turn executives with the authority to make multimillion and in some cases billion dollar decisions, detail why certain policies inhibit their investments. Rather than simply telling a foreign leader that a particular policy is bad, we're trying to show them what benefits will flow from pursuing a different policy. This is far more persuasive and our vision has matured and we have observed with overlapping interests that extend, they extend beyond U.S. government and the American business community, and often we find that our foreign business community has the same interests that we do. Irrespective of the country, people want economic freedom and the chance to earn a good living, start a business and support a family. Irrespective of the country, foreign governments want American companies to invest in their communities because American firms create jobs, bring leading technologies, respect the rule of law, and tend to invest for the long term. Irrespective of the country foreign citizens want access to American products and services. So interestingly enough our government and our business community share these objectives. We've come to appreciate that this overlap creates tremendous but underappreciated opportunity for our private sector in our government to work together as partners in an effort to support and shape a well-functioning rules-based international economic order. So let me spend just a very short moment discussing how commercial diplomacy efforts are playing out in a particularly pivotal place, Ukraine. As we know Russian aggression in Ukraine has had a significant impact on the Ukrainian economy and its people, with GDP declining 10 percent over the past two years. International financial institutions, the United States, and our European allies have provided important financial support. But the key to a sustainable economic success in Ukraine will be the market's ability to draw private investment. An independent prosperous, democratic and corruption-free Ukraine would be a global triple win. It's good for European stability, it's good for our own national security interests and it's good for American business. So in September of 2014 President Obama asked me to go to Kiev. My mission was to meet with President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to urge them to focus on critical business climate reforms, like addressing corruption even while they were fighting a war in the east. I decided to enlist the American business community as partners. My message to the Ukrainian leadership was clear, without real reform American businesses would never fully commit to the Ukrainian market. The President and Prime Minister agreed and began to press ahead with an ambitious economic reform agenda. And in fact within two weeks of our visit their legislature passed a law establishing the national anticorruption bureau. The next step in our commercial diplomacy engagement was to convene the first ever U.S. Ukraine business forum during the summer of 2015 in Washington and Vice President Biden and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk were both in attendance. Before more than 150 Ukrainian and American business executives and government officials, the Prime Minister and Ukraine's economic ministers provided updates on Ukraine's path to economic reform. American business leaders offered concrete recommendations on how to further improve Ukraine's investment climate. They outlined the constructive role they could play in supporting Ukraine's integration into the global economy, a critical step if the country is going to enjoy long-term political stability. In October last year, I returned to Ukraine with a distinguished group of senior US business leaders, whose mission was to make the business case for why Ukraine should adopt a number of particular policies that would draw more trade and generate more investment. Ultimately the Ukrainian government committed to a roadmap that consists of seven critical microeconomic reforms that were requested by the business leaders. And in the months since the government has made progress on this roadmap. They've begun developing a plan to address the significant value added tax refunds they owe companies. They've begun developing an electronic and transparent system for making large government procurements. They've begun to cut back their overly burdensome regulatory regime, and they've implemented a new law that lowers their gas royalty rates to a level that's in line with international practices and encourages investment in natural gas production which the country desperately needs. So Ukraine continues to face serious economic and political challenges and their work is far from complete, but I mention this particular engagement as an example of how commercial diplomacy can work. As with traditional diplomacy, success is defined by incremental but meaningful steps along those lines. As I said at the outset, commercial diplomacy is not a traditional tool in our toolkit, but the government and the private sector are literally building new muscles. American executives are not accustomed to framing the cost of often complex economic policy decisions to foreign leaders. They're not trained as ambassadors, but many American executives are patriots and want to help affect policy change, that will open more markets to America's businesses and products. But two and a half years of this effort is not enough. We need to push future Presidents and their Secretaries of Commerce to invest in and cultivate this tool. If commercial diplomacy is truly going to become the third leg of the foreign-policy stool, and I believe it should, our government needs to develop mechanisms to systematically deploy American executives as emissaries and advocates with foreign governments. And I have no doubt that some may be cynical about this approach, but I don't think Ira would be. So Ira once again happy birthday, and to the students and community of University of Michigan, let me close by saying Go Blue.
[ Applause ]
>> Well thank you so much Secretary Pritzker for a window into the, your evolving vision of commercial diplomacy and some of the really exciting work that is underway in the Department of Commerce. I know that a number of you have written questions, and in a moment we well ask some of the questions from the audience but perhaps I could start our conversation by asking a question or two of my own.
>> And maybe I would start by following up on one of the things that you alluded to at the end of your remarks. And that is that we in a very difficult, complicated time at the moment, we are in the middle of an election season. There are so many important complex and often controversial issues that are still on the table. I wonder if you would highlight for us what you would see as your key priorities for 2016 in your role as the Secretary of Commerce.
>> Well this year is obviously you know it's a year we have an election, but we at the department are very focused on a few things. First of all, getting the transpacific partnership which is our trade agreement with eleven other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, getting that passed through Congress and we're working very hard on that. And you'll see a lot more activity as we rev up as Congress is sort of back in session now. The second area that we're focused on is data, as I alluded to or mentioned, you know, we produce an enormous amount of data. Some of which is easily usable by the private sector and much of which is not as available as it ought to be. And so we have a huge effort going on within the Department of Commerce to make more and more of our data available. And today I went, you know if you think about it I went down into this event, a fin-tech event. And if you think about the financial services industry. Whether it's the insurance companies that use our weather data to make risk-based decisioning, or it's financial services companies that use our housing data and our, from census, or our wage data to make decisions about either credit cards or lending or whether it's just the average business leader who looks at our GP data to help inform their decision-making. We just have a lot of data that we produce and we're, as the world has become sort of where the value of big data is being appreciated and the ability to use it is much greater given our computing capacity, we need to be in the business of making that much more available as a public good. The third area that we're focused on is the digital economy. There're so many issues that are arising in the digital economy and I would say, the digital economy is the economy if you think about it. We all, in one form or fashion, our businesses rest on a digital base or a digital foundation in one form or fashion regardless of whether you're in manufacturing, you're in financial services or you're in, even an artistic business. So we you know, we're very focused on policy around keeping a free and open Internet globally and that is not something that to be taken for granted. There are enormous forces around the world trying to limit that. The second is we're trying to deal with the intersection of privacy and security, so for example we just have finished negotiating the new E.U., U.S. privacy Shield which is the update to what used to be the U.S., E.U safe harbor. Where about 260 billion dollars of trade to every, you know year depends upon having that mechanism in place. We're focused on access of up to still 25 percent of households in America do not have access to high-speed broadband. And access, it becomes critical not only for those families to have access to information and education and the ability explore the world from your laptop or desktop. But also for companies that want to be selling their products. And then finally we work with new technologies to help them and to better understand where, what's necessary at the intersection of innovation of new technologies, whether it's autonomous vehicles, whether it's fin-tech regardless of the area. So those are the areas we're focused and finally we've made for the Department of Commerce a skilled workforce of priority and really institutionalizing that is something that we're focused on. So lots to do this year.
>> That's a quite important agenda, absolutely. Excuse me for one second thank you.
>> I have to say as the Dean of the School of Public Policy, you are focused of data and helping members of the community business and others. I hear some of our alum's and our students are enjoying the comment, I mean that's so important and so we very much appreciate that. So now let me go to questions from the audience. The first one is, after speaking about using U.S. Commerce to support friendly countries, how do you see this strategy being used in the Middle East, specifically Egypt and Saudi Arabia?
>> Well if you think about, one of the biggest problems that most economies face is creating jobs. And so take, you know, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, they have both countries have significant youth populations that are not employed or underemployed. And part of what we can do is work with those countries to help, you know bring new businesses, innovation, entrepreneurship to those countries. In fact I did a roundtable in Saudi Arabia of entrepreneurs half of which were women. And I would, you know, forgive my French but they really kicked ass. It was really, it was pretty amazing what they're doing in their country, even though there're obviously limitations on what women can do. So it's, it's, it's a huge opportunity for us to work with those countries, obviously you need to have a security first in order to be able to have you know greater engagement.
>> Well actually this next question is a nice follow up to that. How is the Department of Commerce promoting and encouraging equal pay for women and minorities in the private sector? Should government action on this policy issue be more forceful or does the private sector need support and more time? Probably all of the above. I think that, the government needs to continue to put pressure on the private sector to have greater diversity in our workforce and in our leadership. And, you know, if you look at the demographics of our country and who's the deciders, I think that the number 72 percent of purchasing decisions in the United States are made by women, and around the world of the 18 trillion dollars that's spent a year, 12 trillion of those decisions are made by women. Why wouldn't you want women in your leadership knowing that? So it and the same it's true for diversity among your leadership team. You know the United States demographics are changing and why wouldn't you want your leadership team to have, you know a much greater diversity so that you have greater insights into all markets. And, but the job is bigger than just the Department of Commerce, this really goes frankly I would throw it back at you and say this is, takes leadership also in the academic institutions to make sure that we're training our entire population. I mean just think of what would happen if we actually as a country had train dollar talent? But we don't do that. And I don't mean everyone needs, forgive me a college degree. There's enormous opportunity in technical training and frankly in some respects we need to make sure that we invest more in technical training in this country. So that a young person has the capacity to go maybe from high school into a career, as opposed to needing a college degree. Now maybe it means you go high school into community college training into a career, but there's an enormous opportunity for young people there, and it's a lot less expensive and you can build into the middle class that way. So there's just a lot that we need to be doing in terms of training. But for sure the government needs to lead and one of the things I found in this job is, there's a lot more diversity, there are a lot more women in leadership, in government than there are in the private sector and it's been quite a pleasure to actually work in that environment.
>> And so again another area where there are many roles for partnerships across the different sectors.
>> Here in New York one of the great centers of commerce in the world, great prosperity has also come with great inequality. Access to ideas, resources, and opportunities for upward mobility is increasingly out of reach for a growing percentage of the population. How do you see the Department of Commerce playing a role in addressing these challenges? And how can the department create the conditions to allow more people to succeed? And again, I think that you have already started to address this one in your previous remarks.
>> Yeah, I think that, you know, let me tell you little bit of just about, we promote this, and this is not a direct answer of the question but I'll give you just an example of one of the things we're doing. Manufacturing, there is a growing need for people to go into manufacturing in the United States. Manufacturing, I mean it's going through a bit of a dip now but not pretty modest relative to what went through in 2009. But we've grown about 900,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States over the last five years. And we have a scarcity of a skilled workforce for those jobs, those are technical jobs. It's not your father's manufacturing, most of this is digital work. And we need to, so we do, and the problem is the reputation of manufacturing really took a dive over the last 30 years. So families are not encouraging their young people to go into manufacture, even though there are great middle-class careers in that field and in that sector, and so what we did is create this thing called manufacturing day. And now we had last October I think over 2,500 companies open their doors to the local community, to young people, school-aged children but more importantly to their counselors and to their parents. So that you could as see what is manufacturing look like. And the point is is that there's got to be more paths to the middle class, and that comes with training and it means we also have to change our conception that every high school has to be only training you to go to college. There are great, there are other paths that can lead to ultimately to a BA or ultimate, if that's what you need to do your, you know, to do your career. But you know when you meet the young people who've gone through technical schools and then gone through to get certificates either their local community college or through other training organizations, ending up in manufacturing and then progressing themselves to their careers. They're defining themselves in their early 30's, they own a home, they own a car, they don't have any debt, you know, school debt and their careers are blossoming. We need to be doing more of that.
>> This question has more of a kind of global focus and I actually believe it's true that you are the Commerce Secretary who has visited the most countries internationally.
>> No, behind Bill Daly.
>> What challenges have you faced at the Commerce Department as the global middle class grows exponentially and you mentioned that in your remarks, how does that translate into challenges at the Commerce Department?
>> So one of the biggest challenges that, that countries faces is they're trying to encourage innovation, they're trying to encourage growth of industry within their own country. So what they do then is their reaction is okay, I'm either going to put up walls so that nobody else can come into our country, or I through you know creating market barriers or what they're going to do is, they're going to require data localization or a localization, you know, that a significant portion of a product be made within their country. That can work in some instances but from the most part it doesn't work, globally as a way to grow. And so we have to, we spent a lot of time working with countries to explain to them, you know, that a supply chain is not something you can just instantly put up within a country. And also that all technologies cannot be realized in all countries, it needs a certain kind of workforce. So, you know, we spend a lot of time advocating for policies that make markets more open and more accessible and, you know, the transpacific partnership is really evidence of that. I mean if you take a country like Vietnam, Vietnam and Malaysia. Malaysia not only has signed the transpacific partnership, they have ratified it, they ratified it before they signed it, that's pretty amazing. I wish our Congress could do that. Anyway, but these are countries that recognized that in order to be part of the 21st century trading ecosystem, they're going to have to improve their labor standards, their environmental standards, they need to make their markets more open for digital products, they need to create digital backbone that makes their countries attractive for investors to invest in their countries. And so that's the kind of where working, that's why this agreement is absolutely critical to get passed. Another reason for it is if we don't set the standards for trade in the Asia-Pacific region China will, and then we're going to have a race to the bottom in terms of the conditions for trade. If you think about transpacific partnership it will lower 18,000 tariffs, it will eliminate actually 18,000 tariffs on, for American goods and services sold a, to be sold around the Asia-Pacific region through the TPP, just the 11 TPP countries. And it will also make goods more affordable here in the United States because it lowers tariffs here in the United States. So it's a big benefit, and those are the kinds of places where we're trying to make a difference and create more access, both through agreements as well as working one-on-one with countries.
>> Thank you. Unfortunately this will be our last question and I think it will be of great interest to at least 15 members of our audience and perhaps others who are watching as well, the question is, so you mention summer internship opportunities. And the real question though is what recommendations do you have for students, students of public policy or others who are excited about the kinds of opportunities that you're talking about.
>> We have incredible internship opportunities at the Department of Commerce, so I would encourage you, you can go online, you could talk to my staff who's here. I don't know where's Marlie's here, Lawrence here. Right here just go talk to them, get their cards and send them your resume and apply for an internship and we need talent. And what I would say is, and the thing about government is as a young, my observation as a young person, you get to do, you get more responsibility as a young person in government than you do and a lot of other organization. So it's a great experience and I highly encourage you to do that. I would also encourage if you're thinking of a career in government, also get some private sector experience and bring that to the table in your career path. And then you one of the amazing things about careers today is you know careers are no longer you go to work for one company and stay there for your entire life. And so, you know, I would both, if you're thinking of, you know, if you're in the school public policy and you're thinking you want a long-term career in government. I made sure I had some private-sector exposure, so that you have credibility, so that your judgment about policy is better informed.
>> Wonderful well thank you so much.
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Thank you Secretary Pritzker, that was fabulous we also really appreciated the time you spent earlier with our students. Please join me in the final round of applause for Secretary Pritzker.
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I'd also like think the generous donors to the J. Ira Harris lecture fund, thank you so much many of you were here and we very much appreciate that as well.
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And last but absolutely not least, a huge maize and blue thank you to Ira Harris, Ira thank you for all you do for us.
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Thank you all for joining us as well. I'd like to invite you to join us just through those doors in the kitchen and gallery for a reception. So again thank you and please join us through those doors.