WASHINGTON — Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today unveiled some of the details of the Obama administration’s plans announced last week during the State of the Union address to put Americans back to work.
“A key element in helping to meet that goal is a new National Export Initiative, which aims to double American exports over the next five years and support two million jobs here at home,” Locke said.
There have, of course, been previous endeavors by the government to elevate the importance of exports, he said during a speech before the National Press Club here.
“But what sets this effort apart is that this is the first time the U.S. will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet,” Locke said. “This initiative will correct an economic blind spot that has allowed other countries to chip away at America’s international competitiveness.”
Locke said the export initiative would:
•Provide more funding for export promotion and more coordination between government agencies.
• Ensure that commercial advocacy objectives get government-wide support and that the U.S. does a more effective job of advocating for U.S. products in interactions with foreign businesses, farmers and foreign officials.
• Create 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.
“To put it another way, prior to the NEI, export promotion may have been a ‘some of the time’ focus for many U.S. cabinet agencies and departments,” Locke said. “The NEI makes it an ‘all-the-time focus.’”
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 U.S. exports.
Locke listed several key issues that must be addressed, issues he said affect the ability of U.S. businesses to export.
One of those, he said, is continuing the rigorous enforcement of international trade laws to help remove barriers that prevent U.S. companies from getting open and fair access to foreign markets.
Locke made no mention of either the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the impact of the tariffs Mexico imposed on the U.S. after Congress killed the Cross Border Demonstration Project.
Several agriculture interests have told The Trucker the tariffs negatively impacted their export business to Mexico in 2009.
Commerce Department officials had not responded to a request for comment on whether those involved in the export initiative would encourage the Department of Transportation to come up with a replacement for the cross border pilot project, a condition that Mexico has said must be met before it considers dropping the tariffs.
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