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- Winning the Future Through Exports
- Helping U.S. Manufacturers Expand Exports
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Winning the Future Through Exports
Container ships at the industrial port of Miami, Florida. The port is among the top 11 container ports in the United States and in 2010 processed approximately 7.4 million tons of cargo. Improving supply-chain infrastructure such as port facilities is one of the recommendations of the 2011 National Export Strategy. (photo © Roberto A Sanchez/iStock)
As both a report card and a call to action on U.S. export policy, the newly released 2011 National Export Strategy shows where the federal government has been and where it needs to go to meet the National Export Initiative’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
by John Ward
The challenge to the U.S. business community from President Barack Obama in January 2010 was bold, and came in the form of a very specific goal announced during his State of the Union message: double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The vehicle for reaching that goal was subsequently given substance with the National Export Initiative (NEI) and the first-ever Export Promotion Cabinet.
Now, with the release on June 28, 2011, of the 2011 National Export Strategy, the many details of how the president’s goal will be achieved and measured have been revealed, along with instructions for action by federal export promotion agencies and Congress. These directions cover many areas and include a call for the following:
- Improving collaboration with states, metropolitan areas, and border communities
- Supporting exports by U.S. companies selling technologies in high-growth sectors
- Passing surface and aviation transportation reauthorization legislation to address the accumulated infrastructure deficit that impedes the efficient movement of exported goods
- Improving data collection and measurement of exporting by the services sector
- Removing barriers to trade, including passing pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea
- Increasing funds for key federal trade promotion programs to adequately implement the NEI
The 2011 National Export Strategy
Download the 2011 National Export Strategy now.
For more information on export programs, services, and initiatives of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee agencies, visit the government’s export assistance portal at www.export.gov.
Obama made plain the strategic importance of this ambitious agenda in his introductory message to the report. “How we win the future … is one of the biggest challenges facing our nation in the generation to come.… [T]he federal government must constantly look for ways to promote U.S. exports, enforce trade agreements, and work to ensure that U.S. businesses are able to compete—and compete fairly—on the world stage.”
Commitment to Growth
The heart of the 2011 National Export Strategy is the NEI, which, according to Obama, “is my administration’s commitment to U.S. businesses that the federal government will work more closely together to help more U.S. businesses access export markets. The NEI’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014 is designed so that U.S. government agencies are focused and are working together to ensure that our companies have access to these markets, and that all companies, large and small, get the assistance they need to compete on a fair and level basis with foreign competitors.”
The results have already been encouraging. In 2010, NEI’s first year, U.S. exports of goods and services grew 17 percent over 2009, which was the highest year-on-year increase in exports in more than a decade. That growth contributed significantly to the overall economic recovery of the United States.
Total U.S. exports of goods and services in 2010 came to $1.83 trillion. Those exports supported millions of jobs and contributed as much to the growth of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) as business investment.
Metrics and Progress Report
To maintain that momentum, the United States must have a consistent export promotion strategy. Such a strategy was contained in 70 recommendations made in a previous report on the NEI that was transmitted to President Obama in September 2010 by the new Export Promotion Cabinet. (See the October 2010 issue of International Trade Update.)
The 2011 National Export Strategy highlights actions already taken on 31 recommendations contained in the September report. These address the 8 priority areas for government action that were identified in Executive Order 13534, which officially launched the NEI in March 2010 (see sidebar). It also lays out a comprehensive set of NEI progress metrics based on the programs, services, and initiatives of the Export Promotion Cabinet and the 20 Trade Promotion Coordination Committee (TPCC) agencies.
According to the report, “These metrics will help measure the progress of core NEI recommendations, encourage interagency collaboration toward common NEI goals, and provide greater transparency for the public on the government’s role in promoting exports.”
The first of two appendices in the 2011 National Export Strategy provides a status update of the federal government’s progress on all 70 NEI recommendations along with a full account of upcoming implementation efforts. The second appendix details the export promotion activities of the states, which are critical partners in NEI efforts to engage and mobilize U.S. businesses at the local level.
An Essential Role
The National Export Strategy is the annual report of the TPCC, which is an interagency body comprising 20 federal agencies. The TPCC is chaired by the secretary of commerce.
The Export Enhancement Act of 1992 established the TPCC to coordinate the export promotion and export financing activities of the U.S. government and to develop a governmentwide strategic plan for implementing them.
In his introduction to the new report, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke noted the crucial role that future TPCC reports will play in the coming years. “The annual National Export Strategy will fill the essential role of tracking and measuring the federal government’s progress in implementing the NEI. Each year, the TPCC will also assess new opportunities and seek new ways for the TPCC agencies to improve coordination and increase their effectiveness.”
Facing a Changing World
The United States faces formidable challenges in its efforts to remain economically competitive in a constantly changing global marketplace. But the strategies and tools put forth in the 2011 National Export Strategy point the way toward success in this environment.
As Obama notes in his introduction, “Technology and new foreign competition … are a reality. But our country was built on change and an abiding belief in our ability to shape our own destiny. With exports rising, U.S. companies, including small enterprises, have already taken the first steps to reinvent themselves as global enterprises.”
The strategies outlined in the 2011 National Export Strategy will help ensure that there are second and third steps as well.
John Ward is a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. John Larsen of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat contributed to this report.
A trade show, Pack Expo, has partnered with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial service since 1992 to bring foreign buyers to the United States. The 2011 National Export Strategy calls for the continued allocation of resources in support of such programs. (photo courtesy Pack Expo)
In March 2010, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13534 establishing the National Export Initiative. It identified the following eight priority areas of activity:
Exports by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Tremendous opportunity exists for the U.S. government to help SMEs participate more actively and effectively in export markets through advocacy and promotion, as well as through the provision of export financing.
Federal export assistance. Improving the federal government’s core trade promotion programs can substantially enhance the ability of U.S. companies to export.
Trade missions. These missions provide a practical way for the government to encourage exports by allowing U.S. companies to receive individually selected, one-on-one meetings with business contacts.
Commercial advocacy. Commercial advocacy is designed to help level the playing field for U.S. businesses competing for international contracts against foreign firms that may benefit from strong home-government support.
Export credit. Export financing is a crucial part of exporting. Government trade and investment financing agencies, such as the Export–Import Bank of the United States, step in to fill market gaps when the private sector cannot provide adequate credit to support certain transactions with greater real or perceived risk.
Macroeconomic rebalancing. During the next few years, economic growth of U.S. trading partners will be a key determinant of U.S. export growth. To sustain a strong global economic recovery, the United States and its G20 partners will need to work together to ensure that the global economy shifts smoothly to more diversified sources of economic growth.
Reduced barriers to trade. As the U.S. government works to open new markets, it must ensure that U.S. exporters have the opportunities they were promised in prior agreements. Robust enforcement is a short- and long-term priority and an effective way for the federal government to help increase exports.
Promotion of service exports. The federal government should design and implement specific advocacy and trade promotion efforts for services. The services sector accounts for nearly 70 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and is the largest driver of job creation in the United States.
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