President Obama Signs Executive Order on National Export Initiative

On March 11, 2010, President Obama signed an executive order launching a single, comprehensive strategy to promote American exports called National Export Initiative (NEI). That same day, President Obama spoke about NEI at the Export-Import Bank's (Ex-Im) Annual Conference in Washington, DC. 

In the executive order, Obama states that the NEI will help meet his Administration's goal of doubling exports over the next 5 years by working to remove trade barriers abroad, by helping firms to overcome obstacles to enter new export markets, by increasing trade financing, and by pursuing a general, Government-wide approach to promote U.S. exports abroad. 

Particular focus of NEI will fall on the following areas: 

a)    Exports by small and medium-sized corporations (SMEs). EPC members will develop programs designed to enhance export assistance to SMEs, including developing programs to improve technical assistance to first-time exporters and assisting current exporters in identifying new export opportunities in international markets;
b)    Federal Export Assistance. Members of the EPC will promote Federal resources currently available to assist U.S. exports;
c)    Trade Missions and Commercial Advocacy. U.S. Government-led trade missions will effectively promote exports by U.S. companies; 
d)    Increasing Trade Financing. The President of Ex-Im will work on increasing the availability of credits to SMEs. In his speech, the President noted that in 2009, Ex-Im authorized $21 billion in loans in support of U.S. exports, almost a 50% increase from the previous year. Under the NEI, the amount of trade financing available to SMEs is expected to increase further;
e)    Macroeconomic Rebalancing. A balanced and strong growth in the global economy will be promoted through the G20 or other appropriate mechanisms; 
f)    Reducing Barriers to Trade. The U.S. Trade Representative together with members of EPC will take steps to improve market access overseas for U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and service providers. To ensure that that U.S. companies have free and fair access to the overseas markets, in his speech at Ex-Im President Obama called for enforcement of trade agreements that U.S. already has on books; and
g)    Export Promotion of Services. Pursuant to NEI, a framework for promoting services trade, including the necessary policy and export promotion tools, will be developed. 

President Obama also stated that one of the major goals of NEI is aggressive protection of intellectual property in the U.S., achieved by negotiating proper protections with foreign countries and enforcing existing U.S. agreements overseas. 

With regard to export controls, President Obama stated:

Finally, we're working to reform our Export Control System for our strategic, high-tech industries, which will strengthen our national security.  What we want to do is concentrate our efforts on enforcing controls on the export of our most critical technologies, making America safer while enhancing the competitiveness of key American industries.  We've conducted a broad review of the Export Control System, and Secretary Gates will outline our reform proposal within the next couple of weeks.  But today, I'd like to announce two steps that we're prepared to take.

First, we're going to streamline the process certain companies need to go through to get their products to market -- products with encryption capabilities like cell phone and network storage devices.  Right now, they endure a technical review that can take between 30 and 60 days, and that puts that company at a distinct disadvantage to foreign competitors who don't face those same delays.  So a new one-time online process will shorten that review time from 30 days to 30 minutes, and that makes it quicker and easier for our businesses to compete while meeting our national security requirements.

And second, we're going to eliminate unnecessary obstacles for exporting products to companies with dual-national and third-country-national employees.  Currently, our exporters and foreign consumers of these goods have to comply with two different, conflicting set of standards.  They're running on two tracks, when they could be running just on one.  So we're moving towards harmonizing those standards and making it easier for American and foreign companies to comply with our requirements without diminishing our security.  And I look forward to consulting with Congress on these reforms, as well as broader export control reform efforts.