What They Said
Commentators sound off on export policy at TPCC’s invitation
(As of August 13) 168 commentators responded to the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) June 30th invitation to advise the federal government on what it should do to boost exports by filing statements online.
Having run our own informal survey on what keeps U.S. companies from exporting more, we were interested to find recurring themes: the need to simplify and streamline export controls, provide trade financing programs, approve pending free trade agreements (and negotiate new FTAs), improve transport infrastructure, and make the more effective export promotion programs (trade missions, the Gold Key Service, etc.) more accessible/affordable for small businesses. The 19-point list from the San Diego & Imperial District Export Council is fairly representative of recommendations on federal policy. (Other District Export Councils filed comments as well: Oklahoma, North Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, National, California Inland Empire.)
Some 80 industry trade associations, chambers of commerce, and business coalitions contributed 73 statements (some trade associations filed joint statements). Naturally, the trade association comments provide a more detailed discussion of hot-button topics in their sectors.
The American Chemistry Council letter, for instance, takes up the issue of last year’s Customs & Border Protection (CBP) modification of a ruling letter (HQ 113129) which effectively overturned the 15-year practice of allowing the importation of containers containing the residues of previous cargoes without formal entry. The ACC also addresses the competitive disadvantages of current U.S. export controls.
The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) discusses the unfair advantage enjoyed by EU companies subsidized by their national governments. The PMMI also suggests easing restrictions on issuing visas for foreigners who want to visit U.S. suppliers and trade shows and harmonizing U.S. standards with EN/ISO standards. The PMMI cautions against diverting U.S. Commercial Services resources to developing markets at the expense of mature European markets, the first outlet for many “new to export” companies among its members.
(We’ll take a look at more trade association commentary in the next few weeks.)
Five individuals (including one who anonymously appealed for more trade specialists to staff Commercial Services offices) weighed in. So did 48 companies. Ford Motor Company and Levi Strauss & Co. are among these. But smaller companies’ voices of (often painful) exporting experience also come through in comments from TowHaul Corporation (“Is there any way to negotiate strict patent controls for USA businesses who export to Countries with FREE TRADE Agreements?”) and Warren Distribution (“The limited availability of containers is ridiculous! We cannot afford the extra fees to get a local container!”) and others.
Academia is also represented by five comments. The balance of filings came from governmental, quasi-governmental agency, and NGO entities whose mission it is to develop and promote export trade.
You can browse all the online comments here (check the box marked “Public Submissions” to load links to the individual comments).
Date posted: August 13, 2010