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The National Export Initiative: Making Progress and Striving for More

March 6, 2012

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Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary for International Trade

This month marks the second anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI).  Launched in 2010, its goal is to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.  In real terms, that means doubling our exports from $1.5 trillion at the end of 2009 to $3.1 trillion at the end of 2014.

As we reach this milestone, I’m proud to report that to date the NEI has been a resounding success.

U.S. exports have grown 34 percent since the President implemented the initiative.  Last year, U.S. goods and services exports reached a record $2.1 trillion.  As a result of these successes, we are making progress toward the President’s goal.

Why is this important?

Under Secretary Sanchez tours the Larsen & Toubro engineering facility in Chennai

Under Secretary Sanchez tours the Larsen & Toubro engineering facility in Chennai (Photo Larsen & Toubro Limited)

Because, even as the nation’s economic recovery accelerates, there is still a lot of work to be done.  Too many Americans are still looking for work.  Too many businesses find themselves with too few opportunities.

Exporting addresses these challenges, providing companies with new opportunities to sell their goods abroad, which is where more than 9 out of 10 of the world’s potential customers live.  When a business reaches more customers, it can lead to more sales, more revenues and ultimately more jobs.

The overall economic impact of exports has been tremendous; they comprised nearly 14 percent of GDP in 2011 — yet another record.

Naturally, as the Under Secretary of International Trade, I’m pleased with this success.  Certainly, I’m proud of the contributions that the International Trade Administration (ITA) — particularly it’s talented staff — has made to this progress.

For example, last year alone, ITA helped 5,600 American companies export for the first time. This is great news. But I want to be clear: We are not satisfied.

With new economic challenges emerging in pockets throughout the world, in Europe for example, we realize that we have to work harder to keep the momentum of the NEI going.

That’s why we continue to push for progress in a number of ways.  Here are four specific areas of focus:

1. Policy: The United States – Korean Trade Agreement will take effect later this month.  It is estimated to create roughly 70,000 jobs and add billions to the U.S. GDP.  The agreement will create new opportunities for U.S. companies in the world’s 12th largest economy, which is sure to boost exports and enhance the nation’s competitiveness.

We look forward to supporting our colleagues at the Office of the United States Trade Representative to resolve the outstanding issues involved with the free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia.

2. Promotion: We continue to actively link U.S. companies with promising growth markets and industries around the world.  For instance, as you’ll read about in this edition of International Trade Update, I just returned from India where I accompanied twelve U.S. companies on the first-ever ports and maritime trade mission.

Recently, the Indian Government announced infrastructure investments of nearly $100 billion in the port and shipping sectors.  U.S. companies offer cutting-edge products and services that would be a valuable asset to this development.  Recognizing this enormous opportunity, I urged all sides to come together and create mutually beneficial partnerships. I’ll continue to do that in different industries and markets all over the world.

3. Enforcement: We’ll continue to fight to level the playing-field for American firms seeking to do business overseas.  One exciting new effort to do this is President Obama’s Interagency Trade Enforcement Center. Working with colleagues from across the U.S. government, we will take unprecedented steps to remove the barriers to free and fair trade.  American businesses deserve a fair chance to compete.  We’ll keep working to give them that chance.

4. Partnerships: With efforts like the New Market Exporter Initiative and our work with the Brookings Institution, we will continue to leverage our partnerships to maximize opportunities.  In fact, on March 12, the actual date the NEI was launched, I will be at the Port of Baltimore celebrating their great contributions to U.S. exports.

With these and other measures, all of us at ITA remain focused on ensuring that the future of the National Export Initiative is as successful as the past — if not more so. Additional stories, successes and achievements will be detailed in the special NEI anniversary edition of the International Trade Update due out later this month.

We look forward to working with all our stakeholders to increase U.S. exports and expand opportunities for Americans across the country.

We won’t stop working until every American is working.

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