Press-Republican

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August 24, 2011

Export initiative can help local companies

PLATTSBURGH — The National Export Initiative has a goal to double U.S. exports in five years.

At a recent Export and Investment roundtable at the North Country Chamber of Commerce, Peter Perez, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing for the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, provided details on the initiative, which took effect in March 2010.

Perez said 95 percent of consumers worldwide live outside the United States. They remain a largely untapped market, he said, as only 1 percent of U.S. companies export and most of those do so to only Canada or Mexico.

In 2009, exports made up 11 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, he said. That compared with 25 percent in China, 27 percent in Canada and 41 percent in Germany.

"This suggests we've got some work to do," Perez said.

EXPORT INCREASES

The initiative aims to improve trade advocacy and export promotion. Perez said the government wants foreign consumers to buy U.S.-manufactured products.

It also intends to increase access to credit through the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank, remove barriers to the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad, robustly enforce U.S. trade regulations, and pursue policies that support strong, substantial and balanced growth.

Perez said that to double exports during the five-year period, exports need to increase by about 14 percent annually. In 2010, exports increased 17 percent to $1.83 trillion, 12.5 percent of the gross domestic product.

In the first 6 months of 2011, exports increased 15.8 percent. Perez said recent turmoil in the financial markets may drop that figure in the near future.

SOME FIRMS RESHORED

The International Trade Administration conducted 35 trade missions worldwide last year. It also arranged for 13,000 foreign buyers to visit the United States for trade shows, which resulted in $535 million in export success.

Perez also talked about the Commerce Department's SelectUSA program, created by a Presidential Executive Order in June. He described it as a one-stop shop for those who want to invest in U.S. companies.

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