Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Obama Signs Exec Order to Begin Reform of Export Controls

President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Thursday creating an export cabinet, relaunching an export advisory council and calling for the federal government to “use every available federal resource in support” of his National Export Initiative.

“Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers and the world’s fastest-growing markets are outside our borders,” said Obama. “We need to compete for those customers because other nations are competing for them.”

The NEI's two-pronged approach to increase exports calls for increased access to trade financing – with a focus on small to mid-sized businesses – and an expansion of federal promotion of American exports.

Part of the initiative calls for the creation of federal offices nationwide and in 250 US embassies and consulate that will provide US firms with export assistance covering everything from " financing to counseling to promotion" according to the President.

Under the NEI the administration also plans to conduct more than 40 trade missions this year, with the President himself set to depart this week on his second Asia-Pacific trip.

“We can’t be on the sidelines," said Obama. "We have to lead and our engagement has to extend to governments and businesses and peoples across the Pacific."

In addition to setting goals, the President's executive order also created the Export Promotion Cabinet. This new cabinet, set to meet for the first time next month, will comprise of the secretaries of the Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, State and Treasury departments, as well as the US Trade Representative, Small Business Administrator and president of the Export-Import Bank.

Obama's executive order also relaunched the President's Export Council as the national advisory committee on international trade, naming Boeing CEO and president Jim McNerney as council chair. Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, was named by the President as the committee's vice chair.

The President also reiterated his belief that reform of the nation's export control system is a critical component of any export growth program, including NEI.

“What we want to do is concentrate our efforts on enforcing controls on the export of our most critical technologies," said Obama, "making America safer while enhancing the competitiveness of key American industries."

The President said that his administration has already conducted a "broad review of the export control system" and expects Defense Secretary Gates to outline reform proposals within the next couple of weeks.

Primary points of focus for these proposals, according to the President, are streamlining of export controls on certain highly regulated products and the elimination of unnecessary obstacles for exporting products to firms with dual-national and third-country employees.

Obama said he plans to consult with Congress on his reform proposals, as well as "broader export control reform efforts.”