White House Launches National Export Initiative

On February 4, 2010, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (Locke) announced the details of President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) that seeks to double U.S. exports to $3 trillion within then next 5 years. The new export levels are expected to support 2 million U.S. jobs.

According to Locke's entry on the White House blog, NEI seeks primarily to expand U.S. government's export promotion efforts, increase government's focus on eliminating obstacles that prevent U.S. exporters from getting open and fair access to foreign access, and improve access to credit, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses that would like to become exporters.

To increase exports, the Commerce Department and several other federal agencies will collaborate in combining trade advocacy with export control reform. According to Locke, the White House is asking Congress to increase trade promotion funding by apportioning an additional $70 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA) and $50 million for the Department of Agriculture in the 2011 budget. 

ITA plans to hire an additional 300 trade exports to promote U.S. companies overseas and assist a client base of more that 23,000 to begin or increase their exports in 2011. 

As part of the initiative, the Export-Import Bank will increase financing available to small businesses by $2 billion to $6 billion over the next year. Over the past three months, the bank authorized $1 billion in small business loans to increase exports. 

NEI will also focus on existing trade laws, including enforcement of intellectual property rights.