Locke touts UPS efforts to support exports
Export promotion has become a full-time preoccupation of federal agencies under President Obama's export initiative instead of the part-time focus it garnered in the past, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.
Exports during the first quarter of the year rose 17 percent from the same period last year, helped in part by Commerce Department efforts to facilitate credit, connect U.S. companies with overseas customers, guide exporters through complex rules in foreign countries and negotiate away trade barriers.
Much of the growth is due to improvement in the global economy, 'but our companies have also been helped by a federal government that is for the first time, fully mobilized to help them break into new markets,' Locke said during a visit to the UPS Worldport hub in Louisville, Ky., to highlight opportunities for local businesses in overseas markets.
Obama's initiative sets a goal of doubling exports within five years.
Locke toured the massive UPS facility where domestic and international cargo planes deliver hundreds of thousands of packages and freight shipments per day for sorting and transfer to ground and air connections for final destinations. UPS benefits from greater export activity because it is a primary option for small businesses, in particular, to ship goods abroad. It has created a host of online tools and other programs to simplify the export process for smaller companies that are daunted by the challenges of operating in foreign markets.
Locke applauded UPS efforts to support export growth, especially for small businesses. Last year, UPS participated with the U.S. Commercial Service at Commerce on 65 export-promotion activities, such as trade shows, seminars and newsletters that reached more than 1 million U.S. businesses.
UPS is also partnering with the Commerce Department's New Market Exporter Initiative, which is designed to help companies that already export identify new markets and the public and private sector resources to help them. The department anticipates faster job creation through reaching existing exporters that can scale up their exports more quickly than a company that has never sold goods or services abroad.
The department has also engaged FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service in the program.
In 2008, exports accounted for nearly 7 percent of total employment and one-in-three manufacturing jobs.
Locke said exports represent an area of untapped potential given that less than 1 percent of the nation's 30 million companies export, and of the companies that do export 58 percent export to only one country.
Under the New Markets Initiative, UPS has already identified more than 7,000 customers as potential candidates to expand their export sales with the assistance of Commerce Department programs, Locke said.
UPS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Davis also heads President Obama's new Export Council. ' Eric Kulisch