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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

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

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Tom Hanson

Yes, the goals are within reach, but maintaining momentum and collaboration among several large government agencies will be the president’s #1 challenge.