Obama Launches Export-doubling Strategy

President said boosting exports was a "short-term imperative" to create jobs, it was also critical for long-term U.S. prosperity as 95% of the worlds fastest-growing markets lie outside U.S. borders.

President Barack Obama put into action an ambitious strategy to double U.S. exports by opening up lucrative emerging markets in a bid to ease unemployment amid fragile economic recovery. The leader signed an executive order to "marshal the full resources of the United States government behind American businesses that sell their goods and services abroad" under his National Export Initiative.

It is the first time the United States is launching a single, comprehensive strategy to promote American exports, Obama said, adding that he would put his credibility on the line for the strategy to succeed.

"This is an effort that I will personally lead as president," Obama said as he created an export promotion cabinet and re-established a presidential export council -- the top national advisory committee on international trade.

He named two prominent business leaders to lead the council -- Boeing president and chief executive Jim McNerney and Xerox chief executive Ursula Burns.

The export strategy will strive to improve access to financing for domestic exporters and help them promote their products overseas as the United States moves to beef up its export drive mostly in advanced emerging nations such as China, Brazil and India.

Washington will also press for greater enforcement of trading rules, including protection of U.S. intellectual property rights, in export markets.

Obama wants U.S. exports doubled in five years to support two million new jobs. More than eight million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007 and millions more remain underemployed, including those doing part-time work or odd jobs.

The United States remains the world's top exporter but its exports dipped to $1.553 trillion last year from $1.827 trillion in 2008.

The export-boosting initiative will see a number of cabinet officials personally shepherding programs, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for example mobilizing a "commercial" diplomatic offensive.

The top U.S. diplomat will direct "every" U.S. embassy overseas to create a "senior visitor business liaison" who will manage export-advocacy efforts locally, Obama said.

More than 40 trade and "reverse" trade missions are also scheduled for 2010, with India and Japan facing the initial export-promotion assault.

Under the new strategy, the United States will also publish a new report exposing "troublesome" trade barriers erected by countries. They include "unfair" non-tariff barriers linked to health and pest issues imposed on U.S. farm exports, Obama's top trade official Ron Kirk said this week.

Obama said that while boosting exports was a "short-term imperative" to create jobs, it was also critical for long-term U.S. prosperity as 95% of the worlds fastest-growing markets lie outside U.S. borders.

Competition to capture export markets is increasing as some countries pursue trade agreements with growing markets that will give their companies access to those markets and put U.S. workers and businesses at a disadvantage, Obama lamented.

"If we stand on the sidelines while they go after those customers, well lose out on the chance to create the good jobs our workers need right here at home," he said. "That's why standing on the sidelines is not we intend to do."

The United States next week will launch trade negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) linking the country with an initial group of seven nations -- Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Obama also next week will make his second visit to the Asia-Pacific since assuming the presidency last year, with trips to Australia and Indonesia, as the U.S. eyes lucrative export markets in the rapidly growing region.

The region "will be fundamental to Americas ability to create jobs and to thrive in the 21st century," he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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