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Remarks by Ambassador Franklin L.Lavin
Under Secretary Designate
Swearing-In Ceremony
U.S. Department of Commerce

November 15, 2005

Good afternoon. It is an honor to stand before you today as the new Under Secretary for International Trade. I would like to thank President Bush for his confidence in me in choosing me to fit this role. I'd like to thank Secretary Guiterrez for his gracious remarks and for inviting me to be part of his team at the Commerce Department.

I am grateful for the friends who have interrupted their day to partake of this event, with people here from Singapore, Hong Kong, Canberra, London, and across the United States. I am honored that colleagues from government are able to share this celebration, and delighted colleagues new and old from the Commerce Department are here today as well. Thank you, Abby for helping with the swearing-in, and I am all the more mindful that our other children, Nat and Elizabeth, and my wife, Ann, were not able to make it. But although the oceans and the miles separate us, they are still deep in my heart. And I am grateful most of all that my parents Carl and Audrey Lavin were able to come in from Ohio and are joined by in-laws, George and Barbara Wortley. Welcome all.

You know, standing up here, I have a sense of déjà vu. The last time I was a public servant in Washington I worked in International Trade Administration on George Bush's team. Here I am today, ready to work in ITA on behalf of George Bush's team. It's great to be back.

ITA is a remarkable organization. We have an extraordinary collection of talent here and it is my privilege to join the team.

ITA is responsible for promoting exports, opening foreign markets, ensuring compliance with trade laws and agreements, and supporting U.S. commercial interests at home and abroad.

In other words, as a friend told me, the job of the ITA Undersecretary is like a super hero. You get to put on a cape and travel around the world fighting bad guys.

Well that might be a bit of an overstatement. But the point is that commerce can have profound effects domestically and overseas. Trade helps drive competitiveness and economic growth domestically. In other countries, trade has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic mechanism. And as societies think more seriously about open political structures - both are underpinned by the rule of law and the free flow of information. So we are promoting prosperity and a better world.

ITA's work has never been more critical to our economic well-being and our national security. ITA's defining purpose is helping to create economic opportunity for American workers and businesses. Our work impacts directly on the lives of everyday Americans. While we work in the realm of policy and ideas, our efforts are inherently practical.

And there is a lot of good news out here. Our nation's economy is robust. With exports near historic highs, U.S. businesses show every day they are capable of winning in the global markets. Americans are resourceful, innovative, and nimble at adapting to change.

We have a great department, a terrific mission, and some of the finest people in government service. Let's put on our capes and get to work.

Thank you.

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