This time last year, I made three, broad resolutions for 2011: to continue promoting U.S. job creation; to seek and build overseas economic alliances; and to protect U.S. businesses and their interests. Beyond these three, I also resolved to exploit every opportunity to foster prosperity at home and abroad. It is clear to me that my bureau's hard work and resilient efforts paid off during 2011. In the wake of the Arab Awakening, we took quick steps to foster economic recovery in the region, including through promotion of entrepreneurship and U.S.-Middle East business relationships. This fall, we seized long-standing opportunities for expanding economic growth by finalizing trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama. With Secretary Clinton's unequivocal endorsement of economic policy as a pillar of foreign policy, 2012 is poised to provide even greater chances for my bureau to deliver on its mission. I would like to preview with you how my bureau plans to do that in the coming 12 months.
1. By continuing to promote growth at home.
In 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative -- a government-wide effort to double U.S exports by the end of 2014 in support of millions of U.S. jobs. My bureau and I focused our efforts during the past year on trade advocacy and export promotion, access to credit, removal of trade barriers, enforcement of trade rules, and promotion of strong, sustainable and balanced growth. Our efforts worked: between July and September 2011 exports grew at a rate of 15.8 percent compared to the same timeframe in 2010, exceeding the 14.9 percent target rate needed to meet NEI goals. We helped U.S. companies compete for more than $27.8 billion in international contracts, with a total U.S. export value of over $18.6 billion. In the year ahead, we will charge full steam ahead, adding a new emphasis on foreign investment in the U.S. domestic market and on export opportunities in infrastructure.
A major success this year was the passage of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements open key markets for U.S. firms and create thousands of jobs. In 2012, we will continue to work on expanding market access by ensuring existing FTAs are implemented, advancing our talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership, and working to remove non-trade barriers.
On the aviation front, by the end of 2011, we had concluded Open Skies aviation agreements with over 105 global partners, allowing air carriers to provide more affordable, convenient and efficient air service. In the year ahead, we look to add more agreements with new partners connecting even more people to our friendly skies.
2. By re-focusing our development agenda.
We at State worked over the past year to re-frame our approach to development as a partnership, rather than as a donor-recipient relationship. President Obama's Partnership for Growth (PFG) initiative is a perfect example of this new way of thinking. Piloted in four countries -- El Salvador, Ghana, the Philippines and Tanzania -- PFG works with governments to identify the major obstacles to their economic growth and then jointly designs action plans to tackle them. I was honored to lead the negotiation of and then sign the first action plan with El Salvador in November, and look forward to our continued partnership with the country.
3. By promoting growth abroad.
2011 was a big year for entrepreneurship, which is a key priority for our bureau. The Arab Awakening provided an unprecedented opportunity for the people of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other countries to take ownership of their fates, including their economic futures. Recognizing this, we launched a number of entrepreneurship partnerships to promote economic growth in the region. In October, a delegation of U.S. entrepreneurs and investors traveled to North Africa to conduct workshops on building businesses. Young entrepreneurs pitched ideas to the delegation, and winners received a three-month training at Tech Town, one of the United States' premier business incubators. I look forward to traveling to the region in 2012 to continue promoting entrepreneurship, expanding opportunities for U.S. companies, and furthering our mutual economic goals.
Next week, I will lead the U.S. delegation to the second annual North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO) Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference in Marrakech. This conference will bring together over 400 entrepreneurs from the Maghreb and beyond to exchange ideas and learn from global leaders.
But entrepreneurship and economic growth cannot flourish when a country's public revenues are wasted or when corruption runs rampant. Through our Domestic Finance for Development (DF4D) initiative, we seek to partner with countries to address these very issues. We have already identified five pilot DF4D countries (El Salvador, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia, and Zambia). In support of the democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa, DF4D is partnering with the Government of Tunisia and the International Tax Dialogue to sponsor an international Open Governance Conference in April. We are also working with international partners to develop a corps of international Volunteer Tax Experts to advise DF4D partner countries on tax administration.
4. By ensuring safe and fair access for all.
In 2011 we imposed tough new sanctions on Iran, Syria and -- for a time -- Libya. These policies advanced U.S. national interests and supported people's desire to freely determine their future. We have already rolled back the Libya sanctions in a way that supports the National Transitional Council and the rebuilding of the country. We will also continue to work with our international partners on a coordinated approach to Iran in order to hold the Iranian regime responsible for its refusal to comply with its international obligations.
It is not just in the goods market that we are striving to maintain openness. We are working to keep the Internet a space where economic, political, and social exchanges flourish. Together with a growing cross-regional group of like-minded countries, we will provide a platform for governments to engage creatively and energetically with the private sector, civil society, and other governments.
2012 will no doubt have its share of global economic challenges, but these can also present opportunities for advancing U.S. policy. I look forward to embracing these opportunities and strengthening the American economy.
Happy New Year to all!