Obama pulls all stops on export agenda
President Obama, in an effort to stimulate U.S. economic growth, signed an executive order on Thursday for the federal government to 'use every available federal resource in support' of his recently announced National Export Initiative.
That order also created the Export Promotion Cabinet, which includes the secretaries of State, Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce and Labor, as well as the Trade Representative, Small Business administrator, and the Export-Import Bank president. He said that cabinet will hold its first meeting next month.
Also Thursday, Obama relaunched the President's Export Council, the main national advisory committee on international trade. He appointed Jim McNerney, president and chief executive officer of Boeing, as council chairman, and Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, as vice chairman.
Obama, who made the announcement at the Export-Import Bank's annual conference in Washington, said the National Export Initiative has a two-part agenda:
' Substantially increase access to trade financing, especially for small and mid-sized businesses.
' Expand federal government promotion of encouraging American companies to export.
'Ninety-five percent of the world's customers and the world's fastest-growing markets are outside our borders,' Obama said. 'We need to compete for those customers because other nations are competing for them.'
The administration will establish 'one-stop shops' across the country and in the 250 embassies and consulates abroad to assist U.S. companies with their export matters. 'And we'll provide a comprehensive toolkit of services — from financing to counseling to promotion — to help potential exporters grow and expand,' Obama said.
Obama will take his second trip to Asia-Pacific next week with key stops planned for Indonesia and Australia. 'We can't be on the sidelines — we have to lead and our engagement has to extend to governments and businesses and peoples across the Pacific,' he said.
The White House expects to announce shortly more than 40 trade missions planned for this year.
In addition, the president said he will continue to press for an 'ambitious and balanced' Doha agreement and tougher intellectual property protections.
Obama told Ex-Im Bank conference attendees that his administration will continue with its reform of the country's aging export control system.
'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,' he explained. 'We've conducted a broad review of the export control system, and (Defense) Secretary Gates will outline our reform proposal within the next couple of weeks.'
One of the key areas of this reform includes streamlining the process certain companies need to go through to get their products to markets, namely those products with encryption capabilities like cell phone and network storage devices, Obama said.
He also wants his administration to 'eliminate unnecessary obstacles for exporting products to companies with dual-national and third-country employees.
'Currently, our exporters and foreign consumers of these goods have to comply with two different conflicting sets of standards,' Obama said. '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.'
The president's announcement to reform export controls received particular praise from pro-trade industry groups.
'Updating the system will enhance our security by allowing the government to focus its resources on enforcement against illicit exports of the most critical goods and technologies,' said the Coalition for Security and Competitiveness in a statement. 'At the same time it will enhance U.S. companies' competitiveness by providing a clearer and more efficient licensing system.'
'No other president has demonstrated a better comprehension of export control reform,' said Marianne Rowden, president and CEO of the American Association of Exporters and Importers. 'President Obama has a clear understanding of the connection between national security, innovation and job creation by tackling the technical regulatory impediments to export goods from the United States.' ' Chris Gillis