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President Obama's National Export Initiative

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President Obama's National Export Initiative
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Text of the President remarks in support of U.S. trade policies, in which he announced a new 2010 Executive Order establishing the National Export Initiative:
  • "a single, comprehensive strategy to promote American exports" which includes
  • smart, immediate steps "to increase financing, advocacy, and assistance for American businesses to locate, set up shop, and win new markets" and to
  • "making sure American companies have free and fair access to those markets" by ensuring that
  • existing trade pacts "will be as good for workers as it is for businesses, including strong labor and environmental protections that we’ll enforce."
Per the President, "So that’s how we’re going to double our exports, open up new markets, and level the playing field for American businesses and American workers... I have every confidence that we will succeed in this effort."

(Also read Pros & Cons of Free Trade Agreements.)

The White House
Remarks by the President at the Export-Import Bank's 2010 Annual Conference

Now, it has been our most pressing priority over the first year of my administration to deal with an unprecedented economic crisis -- one that has been as serious as anything since the Great Depression. To do that required difficult and sometimes unpopular steps to rescue our financial system and to jumpstart an economic recovery.

But we took those steps. And because we did, we can stand here just over a year later, and say that we prevented another depression, we broke the back of the recession, and the economy that was shrinking a year ago is growing today.

Prosperity has been based on fleeting bubbles, rampant speculation

What’s also clear is that we’ve got a long way to go. More than 8 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the recession. Millions more remain underemployed, including those doing part-time work or odd jobs. And the middle class across this country has felt their economic security eroding for longer than they care to remember. That’s why we continue to do everything we can to foster private sector job creation and to restore some sense of security.

But the fact is, if we want to once again approach full employment; if we want to create broad, shared, and lasting wealth for our workers and our families; if we want an America that is ready to compete on the global playing field in the 21st century –- then we can’t slide back into an economy where we borrow too much and put off tough challenges.

We can’t return to an economy where too much of our prosperity is based on fleeting bubbles and rampant speculation. We have to rebuild our economy on a new, stronger, more balanced foundation for the future –- a foundation that will advance the American people’s prosperity at home, and support American leadership in the world.

Building a solid foundation to advance U.S. prosperity

And that’s precisely what we’ve begun to do:

  • We’re catalyzing a new clean energy industry that has the potential to employ millions of workers in good jobs.
  • We’re investing in the skills and education of our workers, and reforming our education system with a goal to once again lead the world in the proportion of college graduates by the end of this decade.
  • We’re building a better health care system that works for our people, our businesses, and our government alike.
  • We’re establishing clear, common-sense rules of the road for Wall Street that encourage innovation and creativity instead of recklessness and irresponsibility; rules that prevent firms from taking risks that threaten to bring down the entire economy.
  • And we are rebuilding an economy where we generate more American jobs in more American industries by producing and exporting more goods and services to other nations.
Now, in my State of the Union address, I set a goal of doubling America’s exports over the next five years -– an increase that will support 2 million American jobs. And I’ve come to the Export-Import Bank Conference today to discuss the initial steps that we’re taking to achieve that goal.

Controversies over trade and globalization

I know the issue of exports and imports, the issue of trade and globalization, have long evoked the passions of a lot of people in this country. I know there are differences of opinion between Democrats and Republicans, between business and labor, about the right approach. But I also know we are at a moment where it is absolutely necessary for us to get beyond those old debates.

Those who would once support every free trade agreement now see that other countries have to play fair and the agreements have to be enforced. Otherwise we're putting America at a profound disadvantage. Those who once would once oppose any trade agreement now understand that there are new markets and new sectors out there that we need to break into if we want our workers to get ahead.

And meanwhile, if you ask the average American what trade has offered them, they won’t say that their televisions are cheaper, or productivity is higher. They’d say they’ve seen the plant across town shut down, jobs dry up, communities deteriorate.

And you can’t blame them for feeling that way. The fact is other countries haven’t always played by the same set of rules. America hasn’t always enforced our trade rights, or made sure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared. And we haven’t always done enough to help our workers adapt to a changing world.

We must look out for U.S. workers

Now, there’s no question that as we compete in the global marketplace, we’ve got to look out for our workers. But to look out for our workers, we’ve got to be able to compete in the global marketplace. It’s never been as important an opportunity for America as it is right now.

In a time when millions of Americans are out of work, boosting our exports is a short-term imperative. Our exports support millions of American jobs. You know this well. In 2008, we exported more than $1 trillion of manufactured goods, supporting more than one in five manufacturing jobs -– and those jobs, by the way, pay about 15 percent more than average.

We led the world in service exports, which support 2.8 million jobs. We exported nearly $100 billion in agricultural goods. And every $1 billion increase in exports supports more than 6,000 additional jobs.

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