Obama tells trade agencies to seek efficiencies in promoting exports

Charles Krupa/AP

Again invoking his We Can’t Wait [for Congress] campaign, President Obama on Friday issued a memorandum to instill more effective use of the government’s trade, foreign investment, export and business program functions.

Coming on a day when the president is visiting a Boeing Co. plant in Washington state to promote exports, the memo to heads of executive departments and agencies assigns five tasks “to further enhance and coordinate federal efforts to facilitate the creation of jobs in the United States and ensure sustainable economic growth through trade and foreign investment, and to ensure the effective and efficient use of federal resources in support of these goals.”

The intra-administration moves are linked to the president’s Jan. 13 announcement that he is seeking renewed authority from Congress to consolidate agencies to remove duplication.

The new directives also builds off a March 2010 executive order establishing the Export Promotion Cabinet to fulfill the administration’s goal of helping the private sector double exports in five years.

Agencies now are instructed to work through the Export Promotion Cabinet to accomplish the following:

  • Develop the National Export Initiative to open foreign markets and improve conditions that boost exports through coordination with the Commerce Department’s Trade Promotion Coordination Committee;
  • Improve customer service for exporters by creating a BusinessUSA online platform and Web service that cuts across agencies;
  • Evaluate the trade budget’s allocation of government resources that assist with trade financing, negotiation, enforcement and promotion, then reporting recommendations to reduce overlap and savings to the Office of Management and Budget;
  • Coordinate placement and use of domestic and foreign offices and staff to take advantage of co-location and cross training of staff (and to include such factors in performance reviews);
  • Work to enhance business competitiveness, particularly among small businesses, by working with the National Economic Council on further administrative initiatives to help businesses innovate, grow and increase exports.

Obama’s We Can’t Wait campaign is a series of White House initiatives that do not require approval by Congress.

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