Washington: President Barack Obama will unveil details Thursday of how he plans to double American exports in five years, mainly to rapidly-growing Asia.
Obama’s strategy to get US companies to pump out exports is aimed at supporting the creation of two million jobs in America, which is still reeling from double digit unemployment that threatens to dampen its economic recovery.
“If we just increased our exports to Asia by a percentage point, by a fraction, it would mean hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of jobs here in the United States. And it’s easily doable,” Obama told Senators from his Democratic party Wednesday.
“And that’s why we are going to be putting a much bigger emphasis on export promotion over the next several years,” he said, a day before his commerce secretary, Gary Locke, gives details of the export promotion strategy.
Obama announced his export-boosting strategy during last week’s State of the Union address, saying a National Export Initiative would be launched as part of the move.
It would “help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security,” he said.
China and India are obviously among the top markets to be tapped, officials said.
US exports for the first 11 months of last year trundled in at $1.411 trillion compared to $1.827 dollars for the whole of 2008.
But despite the deteriorating global economy, exports to the Asia-Pacific region were up more than eight percent in 2008 over the preceding year to $747 billion, figures from the US Trade Representative’s office showed.
Agriculture exports to the region were $76 billion, a 30% increase over the previous year, and services exports grew to $187 billion.
The Obama administration believes that as a number of key markets around the world recovered more quickly than the United States from recession, exports to these countries will create good American jobs at home.
“It’s all about jobs. And if done right, president Obama and I firmly believe that a smart aggressive progressive trade policy of the United States can be a critical part of our overall economic recovery program,” said the president’s top trade official Ron Kirk.
Americans who work in export-sector jobs are now paid up to 18% above the average, Kirk’s deputy Demetrios Marantis said.
“We know that six million Americans owe their jobs to manufacturing exports, and that agricultural and service export jobs mean paychecks for many more,” he said.
Obama could also boost exports if he pushed Congress to endorse free trade agreements that had already been signed under the former Bush administration.
“If the president is serious about wanting to use free trade to help create US jobs and bolster the American economy, it is time for him to get off the sidelines and fight for the passage of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea,” said senior Republican lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The Obama administration has been pushing South Korea to give further concessions to US automakers, who have been ailing at home and have struggled.