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Fact Sheet: Build It Here, Sell It Everywhere: Why Exports Matter

Fact Sheet: Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere:  Why Exports Matter
Revised July 17, 2012

In his 2010 State of the Union, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI), which set the ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 to support an additional two million jobs.

  • Exports help U.S. businesses reach new markets and new customers. With 95 percent of the potential customers for U.S. goods and services living outside of the United States, exporting provides vast potential for American businesses.
  • Exports are critical to supporting American jobs. Record-breaking levels of exports supported 9.7 million jobs in 2011, an increase of 1.2 million jobs since 2009. In 2011, every $1 billion dollars of U.S. exports supported more than 5,000 jobs. 
  • Exports are growing. U.S. exports in 2011 reached historic highs, and represented an increase of 33 percent over the level of exports in 2009.

The U.S. has already begun to see the economic impact of the NEI.

  • U.S. businesses’ exports are growing at a rapid rate. Between 2009 and 2011, U.S. companies increased their exports at an annualized rate of 15.4 percent a year, a pace greater than the 14.9 percent annual rate required to double exports by the end of 2014.
  • The United States boasts a large trade surplus in services. In 2011, U.S. exports of services reached a record $606.0 billion, boosting our 2011 trade surplus in services to a record $178.5 billion.
  • Exporting is boosting the U.S. manufacturing sector. Manufacturing employment has risen by 504,000 jobs over the past 29 months, the strongest growth for any 29-month period since April 1995. Exports in manufactured goods specifically increased by $358 billion (39 percent) since 2009, to a record $1.3 trillion in 2011, the highest in history. 
  • The United States had a trade surplus in manufactured goods with our now nineteen trade agreement partners in 2011. In 2011, the U.S. trade surplus in manufactured goods with our trade agreement partners totaled $38.3 billion, up 162 percent from 2010. Exports of manufactured goods to our trade agreement partners totaled $595.8 billion in 2011, representing nearly 47 percent of total U.S. manufactured goods exports. 
  • In 2011, U.S. exports reached a record $2.1 trillion and supported 9.7 million American jobs.

The United States has made great progress toward meeting the goals of the NEI, but we cannot let up on our efforts. The Department of Commerce has a critical function in helping companies compete in the global marketplace.

  • Export Counseling: Since the implementation of the NEI, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) has assisted more than 12,200 U.S. companies export, supporting more than $140 billion in exports. In 2011 alone, 5,600 American companies—including more than 3,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises—were able to export for the first time or increase their exports to new markets. The U.S. Commercial Service, the trade promotion arm of the ITA, works in more than 70 countries to connect U.S. businesses with buyers overseas.
  • Interagency Trade Enforcement Center: In February 2012, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating a new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), led by the Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, to enhance the administration’s capabilities to aggressively challenge unfair trade practices around the world. 
  • BusinessUSA: The administration recently launched BusinessUSA, a virtual one-stop shop that makes it easier for America’s businesses to access the services and information they need to help them grow, hire and export. BusinessUSA implements a “no wrong door” policy for small businesses and exporters by using technology to quickly connect businesses to the services and information relevant to them. 
  • Trade Agreements: Trade agreements eliminate or reduce tariffs and other trade barriers between countries, making it easier for businesses to export. The United States currently has trade agreements in effect with 19 different countries after the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement went into effect on May 15. In addition, a new trade agreement with Panama is expected to be implemented this fall. 
  • Partnerships: The administration is expanding the breadth of partnerships to improve trade advocacy and export promotion efforts. To date, the Commerce Department’s private sector partners have reached out to more than 25,000 client companies, and more than 1,000 U.S. companies have requested assistance in entering new markets.
  • Advocacy Center: The Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center helped hundreds of U.S. companies win government contracts across the globe. Since the launch of the National Export Initiative in 2009, the Advocacy Center has increased its caseload 52 percent and has helped U.S. companies win 117 projects. In 2011, ITA’s Advocacy Center helped U.S. companies win 53 overseas projects worth nearly $30 billion in U.S. export content, supporting about 150,000 jobs.

Why Exports Matter to Small Businesses

  • More than 293,100 U.S. companies exported goods in 2010, nearly 16,500 more than exported in 2009. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – those with fewer than 500 employees—accounted for 98 percent of all identified exporters in 2010.
  • In 2010, SMEs accounted for 34 percent of known total goods export value, up from 33percent in 2009. This continues the trend of the past decade, and highlights the importance of SMEs to the NEI and the U.S. economy as a whole. 
  • In 2010, SMEs exported $383.4 billion in goods, up 24 percent from 2009. 
  • 97 percent of manufacturing exporters are SMEs. These companies represent nearly one-fifth of the manufacturing sector’s $683 billion known value of exports in 2010.