Back to Basics: Creating New Jobs with the National Export Initiative

Ed. Note: More from Daily Finance, "Obama Plans to Create Millions of Jobs by Doubling Exports"

Today, I am at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to announce the details of President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI), which is a key part of his strategy to get America's economy growing strongly again. 

The NEI is an extremely ambitious effort that aims to double American exports over the next five years and support 2 million jobs here at home.

And it is unprecedented.

There have, of course, been previous endeavors by the U.S. government to elevate the importance of exports. But what sets this effort apart is that this is the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his cabinet.

This initiative was designed with one overriding goal in mind: to get people back to work in jobs that provide security, dignity and a sense of hope for the future.

For much of this last decade, America's economic growth was built on a speculative mania that enriched a select few while leaving many Americans out in the cold.  Since 2000, most families have seen their wages stagnate or decline, while the necessities of life like health care and tuition skyrocketed.   

The National Export Initiative will help build a stronger economic foundation and allow us to return to the type of sustainable growth that not long ago ,  helped build the strongest middle class in history.

From the advent of the phone, to the automobile to new drug therapies and the Internet, America's strength has always led been our businesses ability to create and sell products and services that help others around the world lead healthier, wealthier and more productive lives.

That's what we've got to get back to: creating, building and innovating.  That is what this country is all about.

With the NEI, American businesses that want to export – especially small and medium-size enterprises -- are going to have a more vigorous partner in the US government.

The NEI is going to impact a whole array of issues that affect our ability to export, but we’re fundamentally focused on three things:

  • Expand the US government's export promotion efforts in all its forms. Many American companies don't export, or export less than they should, because they simply don't have the resources to identify promising new markets or the necessary contacts in foreign countries. The National Export Initiative will funnel $132 million to the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), and the US Department of Agriculture to educate U.S. farmers and businesses about opportunities overseas and directly connect them with new customers.
  • Improve access to credit, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses that want to export. 
  • Increase the government's focus on knocking down barriers that prevent U.S. companies from getting  open  and fair access to foreign markets.

The American people can feel confident that when we’re party to an agreement that gives foreign countries the privilege of free and fair access to our domestic market, we are treated the same  in their country . 

The National Export Initiative is one more step in this administration's singular focus on one goal: making sure every American who wants a job can find one.

Gary Locke is Secretary of Commerce

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