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Helping U.S. Manufacturers Expand Exports

Guest post by Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Today, I had the opportunity to travel to West Virginia to discuss progress on President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and the promotion of U.S. manufacturing exports. As many of you might know, the NEI, announced in 2010, aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. I’m glad to report that the NEI is off to a good start. Exports last year comprised 12.5 percent of GDP, up from the 11.2 percent recorded in 2009. 

In West Virginia, exports of merchandise grew 34 percent in 2010 -- double the national growth rate of 17 percent for goods and services. Thus far for 2011, the U.S. remains on pace to achieve the NEI goal.

The NEI is critical because we need to get more U.S. companies to export so that we can bolster our economy and support new jobs here in America. Of America’s 30 million companies, less than 1 percent export, and of those that do, 58 percent only sell to one market. The NEI helps creates deep market linkages and connects innovation to the marketplace. It also works to inform U.S. companies of their export potential, and the U.S. Government and private sector services available to help them sell internationally. 

Export Assistance at Work  

The International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service (CS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce operates a global network of 108 U.S. offices and locations in more than 75 countries comprising more than 1,400 trade specialists that provides U.S. business comprehensive, soup to nuts service and programs

West Virginia is an excellent example of how CS counseling and collaboration with businesses and state and local governments is resulting in many export sales for U.S. companies. Last year, CS offices in West Virginia offices recorded 53 export successes totaling more than $11 million.

For example, Kanawha Scales and Systems, in Poca, WV, is a world leader in Batch Loading systems for the mining industry. The U.S. Commercial Service worked with Kanawha and helped facilitate a representative agreement with an Indian coal mining company that led to $3.5 million order with a large steel and coal company. New full-time jobs were created within the company to support its growing exports to India.  

Kanawha is just one of thousands of U.S. companies that benefit from CS assistance annually.  In fiscal year 2010, the CS helped facilitate 12,300 export successes worth $34.8 billion in U.S. export sales. 

Moving forward with the NEI

President Obama recognizes that increasing global trade provides opportunities for growing America’s small and medium-sized businesses.  

This is why the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama are a priority for the Obama administration. More than $10 billion in increased exports of goods alone, supporting more than 70,000 American jobs, are at stake.

Manufacturing companies such as those in West Virginia will see increased competitiveness and growth in exports as a direct result of the trade agreements.

The passage of the trade agreements will significantly reduce tariffs, which in some cases will be eliminated within 10 years. This will spur growth and significantly improve West Virginia’s chemical and primary metal manufacturers’ competitiveness in the global marketplace.

While the trade agreements will allow us to win the future and add jobs, we also have our obligation to retrain and reposition American workers. Knowing that trade positions American products in the competitive global market place also means adjustments for the American worker. The administration is committed to a strong and robust renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and supports workers who need training and other services when their jobs are adversely affected by trade.

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