White House Releases National Export Initiative Report

The president’s Export Promotion Cabinet has released its report to President Obama.

In so doing, Commerce Secretary Locke commented, “As American consumers spend a little less and save a little more, it has never been more important to connect U.S. businesses to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside our borders. Helping American companies sell more abroad will create jobs and boost our economy. This report is a blueprint for doing just that.”

On the same day, the European Union announced that it has signed its free trade agreement with its first Asian FTA partner-nation, South Korea. There’s a “safeguard” clause inserted to protect the small car industry from “sudden surges of imports in sensitive sectors, including small cars.” This added by Italy on behalf of FIAT. This development adds momentum to conclude our nation’s promising negotiations with South Korea, soon.

The Export Promotion Cabinet includes the Secretaries of Commerce, State, Treasury, Agriculture and Labor and the heads of all the trade-related government agencies. Its report provides an overview of the progress of the NEI and lays out a plan for reaching the President’s goals of doubling U.S. exports in five years to support several million new jobs. For a concise, brief executive summary of the report, visit the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration’s website.

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White House Hosts National Export Initiative Event

A fellow member of the San Diego & Imperial District Export Council participated in the July 7 event hosted by President Obama, held to promote our National Export Initiative . Kim Benson is an international business leader based in San Diego and is also appointed to the Industry Trade Advisory Center, a unique private-public partnership that plays a vital advisory role in shaping our nation’s foreign trade policy.

President Obama and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke acknowledged the gathered guests’ contributions to expanding trade, and announced re-launch of the President’s Export Council. As I’ve stated previously on this blog site, this is a commendable and challenging step.

Ms. Benson, who is vice president of Cange International, an international business consultancy observes “a shift in the government taking place now, in terms of the degree of communication among positions and agencies related to trade.” President Obama has also deemed specific members of his cabinet to be Export Promotion Cabinet Members, she notes. “He meets with them regularly and expects cooperation to reach the objectives of the NEI specifically. These efforts will now be supplemented by input provided to President Obama by the President’s Export Council. Having the National Export Initiative clearly set forth is obviously creating unprecedented cooperation among positions and agencies. I see this as something very positive, and I must say that in 20 years I have not seen this level of cooperation.”

The president’s very public and direct pledges since his State of the Union address in January are the best way to hold lenders and government export agencies accountable. Since February of this year, the Department of Commerce has coordinated 18 trade missions with over 160 companies participating in 24 countries. Further, there are eight more trade missions scheduled over the next three months, which can be tracked via Tradeology, the International Trade Administration’s blog. Secretary Locke reminded those gathered in the East Room that in March, the US reached an agreement with China to reopen the Chinese market to pork and pork products. And in June, the US agreed with Russia to reopen the Russian market to US poultry exports. These steps together are worth more than $1 billion. (That’s a start toward reaching $2 trillion in exports in five years, a key goal of the NEI!)

Watch for the Export Promotion Cabinet’s 180-day report to the president, due on September 1.

More About Industry Trade Advisory Center
ITAC is primarily comprised of leaders from small-to-midsized businesses with proven success in global trade. Formed in 1974 and jointly run by the Department of Commerce and the US Trade Representative Office, ITAC ensures that trade negotiators consult with representatives from the private sector during trade negotiations.

Read more about the July 7 White House event here, including a link to a National Export Initiative Progress Report.

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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