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Covering trade & transport, with tips on using import-export data to advantage

Aiming High

Category: Exports, Trade Policy

The NEI report to the president recommends a program to double exports

The White House has released a report on the National Export Initiative (NEI) nine months into the five-year goal of doubling U.S. exports set by the president in his state-of-the-union address in January. 

There’s news of some progress. For example, the Commerce Dept. has coordinated 20 trade missions in 25 countries with more than 250 companies participating since January. Participating companies are said to expect $2 billion in increased exports from the missions. The Agriculture Dept. has recruited 1,500 foreign buyers as a result of “reverse trade missions.”

But, really, this report is concerned with setting goals, ordering priorities, and recommending objectives.

The basic plan to encourage exports calls for more access to credit (especially for small and mid-size companies), more outreach to potential exporters, and more promotion of U.S. products and services to markets abroad. At the same time, the administration will work to remove barriers to the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad, seek robust enforcement of trade rules, and pursue policies to increase global economic growth – and worldwide market demand – for U.S. goods and services.

In the latter regard, the NEI report sets a short-term economic objective of sustaining the global recovery and a longer-term objective of rebalancing global demand. Rebalancing will require “a broad range of countries with large trade and current account surpluses to take policy actions to stimulate domestic demand (especially the largest component of demand, consumption), thereby increasing their demand for imports.” Thus Germany and Japan have roles to play in global rebalancing as well as still-emerging consumer markets of China and India.

There’s to be some rebalancing of the U.S. export promotion effort as well: traditionally overlooked services account for nearly 70% of GDP but only 32% of exports. The report calls for enhanced focus on the services sector and better measurement of the services economy to inform policy planning.

Later this year, the administration will publish a National Export Strategy that promises to describe the steps the relevant federal agencies will be taking to implement the current NEI report’s recommendations.

As President Obama acknowledges, there are some who doubt his export goal is realistic. The administration is pointing to 18% growth in the first five months of this year as evidence that maintaining the required 14% to 15% annual growth through 2014 is achievable.  Perhaps. This year’s 18% gain (if sustained) will just reclaim ground lost to the recession. On the other hand, a goal based on the low point of 2009 may be on a reachable scale.


Date posted: September 21, 2010


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