Businessman John Bryson Nominated as New Commerce Secretary

May 31, 2011
The White House says that Bryson, the former head of an energy firm, has the ability to promote job creation, economic growth and sustainable development.

President Barack Obama on May 31 chose businessman John Bryson to serve as commerce secretary, seeking to further enhance ties with the private sector and spark export-led jobs growth.

Obama said in a statement ahead of an announcement, that Bryson, the former head of Edison International, a leading energy firm "understands what it takes for America to succeed in a 21st century global economy."
"John will be an important part of my economic team, working with the business community, fostering growth, and helping open up new markets abroad to promote jobs and opportunities here at home."

The White House said Bryson, who is also an environmental advocate after helping to form the Natural Resources Defense Council, had the ability to promote job creation, economic growth and sustainable development.

Bryson, who needs to be confirmed by the Senate, would replace Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the Chinese-American former Washington state governor whom Obama has nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to China.

"Mr. Bryson will play a key role as a member of the president's economic team, bringing decades of knowledge and experience in the public and private sectors," an official said.

Bryson, a director of Boeing and the Walt Disney Co., would also seek to offer "valuable ideas and initiatives to strengthen America's competitiveness around the world" as Obama seeks to double U.S. exports in the next four years.

According to the latest Commerce Department figures released in March, the U.S. trade deficit rose in March as the cost of imports rose due to high oil prices -- even though the falling dollar boosted exports. A $7.7 billion rise in exports included a strong increase in the U.S. sales abroad of cars, trucks and other automotive industry products, as the sector recovers after a U..S government rescue effort.

Obama visited a Pomona, California-based Edison International Plant in 2009, shortly after he took office, to highlight the firm's work in producing hybrid batteries, as the president seeks to push alternative energy sources.

The appointment of Bryson, a graduate of Stanford University and Yale law school, may be seen by analysts as another effort by Obama to court the private sector after a rocky relationship with corporate America early in his term. In a major reorganization of the White House, Obama brought in William Daley, a centrist pro-business former commerce secretary to serve as his chief of staff, following a Republican rout in mid-term elections last year. General Electric CEOJeffrey Immelt, serves as head of Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, while Steve Case, the founder of AOL, also serves on the advisory panel.

Manufacturers congratulate John Bryson on his nomination to be the next Commerce Secretary," said National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons. " Mr. Bryson has a strong business background and serves on the board of many manufacturing companies, which gives him the advantage of having exposure to the difficult issues manufacturers face in todays global marketplace."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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