National Export Initiative: Boon for US Exporters

President Obama’s State of the Union address last month yielded a windfall for those companies who earn their way in foreign trade, and for those federal agencies who support their cause. The goals of our new National Export Initiative include doubling American exports over the next five years and supporting up to two million jobs here at home.

The proposed 2011 budget for the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration will increase by 20%. And, the ITA has been ordered to hire about 300 additional foreign commercial service officers.

While launching this ambitious and praiseworthy initiative, the president continues to guide debate on the ratification of free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama; and stepping into challenging trade negotiations with China (see my previous entries about these topics here, here and here) Fair and competitive global trade policies – a certain result of the National Export Initiative – must by logic include the elimination of trade barriers in order to work.

Notably, the NEI creates an Export Promotion Cabinet, reporting to the president, that will consist of top leaders from the Commerce, Treasury and State Departments, the Department of Agriculture, the Export-Import Bank, the office of the United States Trade Representative and the Small Business Administration. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke will head up the cabinet.

Within 180 days, all of the agencies in the Export Cabinet will be responsible for submitting a coordinated, detailed plan to the president about how they will collectively enhance United States exports. Tall order, isn’t it? It will be a challenge to the cabinet to move nimbly and in lockstep, given the size and scope of coverage each department enjoys. Of note is the president telling our Export-Import Bank to increase the financing it makes available to small and medium-size businesses from a record $4.4 billion last year to $6 billion next year. That should relieve the angst over available credit to exporters who need to expand in order to claim their markets overseas.

I’ll make a note to assess the movement and report back in 181 days!

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