Thanks to private and public sector efforts, U.S. manufacturers have added more than 400,000 new American jobs – the strongest growth since the 1990s. Exports also have a significant impact on earnings. The Department of Commerce estimates that exports add up to 18 percent more to workers’ average earnings.

Translating that into dollars pumped back into our economy, ITA helped U.S. companies facilitate more than 14,200 export successes in 2011 – worth more than $55 billion. This represents a 19 percent increase in dollar volume from the previous year.

Keeping America moving on this promising trajectory will require a number of important commitments shared by federal, state, and local leaders.

Nationally, we must continue to remove barriers to international trade, and provide American businesses additional resources to make exporting easier and ensure a level playing field. The Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA) actively links U.S. companies with promising growth markets and industries through our network of experienced staff in more than 100 offices nationwide, and in more than 70 countries around the world.

Across government, we are working together to enforce fair trade practices. President Obama recently signed an Executive Order to establish the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). The ITEC represents a more aggressive “whole-of-government” approach to getting tough on trade enforcement by monitoring and enforcing U.S. rights under international and domestic trade rules and countering unfair subsidies. The ITEC is a joint priority of eight agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, and will help better protect American businesses and workers.

We must also work with states and municipalities to think of exports as a core element in their economic development strategies and to establish strong export promotion. Currently, through the Metropolitan Export Initiative, a joint project between the Commerce Department and the Brookings Institution, we have forged critical collaborations among federal, state, and metropolitan area leaders to support exporting at the local level.

Finally, we must continue to support investment in our seaports. Ocean transport carries more U.S. international merchandise than air cargo, trucks, railroads, and pipelines combined. In 2011, $570 billion in exports flowed through America’s seaports – a 25 percent increase from the previous year.

As we celebrate the success of the National Export Initiative and its positive impact on our economy, we must also commit to ensuring that its momentum continues. Providing more opportunities and support for U.S. companies to export their goods and services makes good economic sense – and American workers deserve nothing less.

Sanchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. He leads the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, a federal agency that promotes U.S. businesses and competitiveness with commercial offices across the United States and the globe.