White House Releases Report on the National Export Initiative

On September 16, 2010, the White House released a report to the President on the National Export Initiative (NEI). The report, developed by the Export Promotion Cabinet which includes the Secretaries of Commerce, State, Treasury, Agriculture and Labor and the heads of all trade-related government agencies, details the progress of NEI, presents a plan for achieving President's goals to double U.S. exports in five years, and provides recommendations addressing the priorities established in the NEI Executive Order. 

"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," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "Helping American companies sell more abroad will create jobs and boost our economy. This report is a blueprint for doing just that."

The administration's efforts, through the NEI, are focused on five areas that include access to credit, especially for small and midsize firms; increased trade advocacy and export promotion efforts; removal of barriers to the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad; enforcement of trade rules; and pursuing policies that will increase global economic growth so that there's a strong worldwide market for U.S. goods and services.

The report outlines ways the U.S. government can expand efforts to help U.S. businesses win more foreign government contracts, find buyers worldwide, participate in more trade missions and trade shows, receive more export financing, and learn new ways to sell products and services overseas.  A central focus of the plan is providing additional assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, which are major drivers of new job creation.

According to the report, nine months into a five-year plan, progress is already evident: "Exports in the first six months of this year were 18 percent higher than exports in the first six months of 2009. Furthermore, exports have contributed more than one percentage point to GDP growth (at an annual rate) in each of the four quarters of recovery and have contributed over 1.5 percentage points to growth in the last year. This was a larger contribution than either consumption or fixed investment."

In the report, the Export Promotion Cabinet provides recommendations to help achieve the priorities established in the NEI Executive Order: 

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs): a National Outreach Campaign to raise awareness of export opportunities and government export assistance for U.S. small and midsize companies; a re-launch of export.gov, the Government's export internet portal, with new export training opportunities to educate companies on how they can begin selling their products overseas or break into new markets if they are already exporting. 

Federal Export Assistance: bring more international buyers to U.S. trade shows and encourage more U.S. companies to participate in major international trade shows. In addition, implement a government-wide export promotion strategy for six newly designated "next tier" markets (Colombia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam). 

Trade Missions: substantially increase the number of trade missions abroad, particularly those led by senior U.S. Government officials, and foreign buyer trade missions to the United States.

Commercial Advocacy: level the playing field for companies bidding on projects abroad through improved coordination among government export promotion programs; formalize a path to escalate, for the first time ever, critical advocacy projects for direct White House and National Economic Council involvement where necessary. 

Increasing Export Credit: extend more export credit through existing trade finance agencies, increase awareness of credit products, focus on SMEs and companies from underserved sectors of the U.S. economy, expand the eligibility criteria for SME export finance lending, and streamline the application and review process for SME exporters. 

The report claims that the NEI provides more funding, more focus and more cabinet-level coordination to grow U.S. exports. According to the report, since the President announced the NEI, the Department of Commerce's Advocacy Center has assisted American companies competing for export opportunities, supporting $11.8 billion in U.S. exports and an estimated 70,000 jobs. 

The NEI Report will be followed by the National Export Strategy, prepared by the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) and delivered to Congress annually, which will detail the implementation of these recommendations and measure progress. 

Full NEI report can be accessed here and the executive summary of the report is attached here