State of the Union: Welcome Focus on Trade, Action to Follow?

By January 28, 2010Trade

From the President’s State of the Union:

[We] need to export more of our goods. (Applause.) Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. (Applause.) So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. (Applause.) To help meet this goal, we’re launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. (Applause.)

That’s a welcome target to achieve export-driven growth, and it’s notable that the President regards the export controls issue important enough to warrant a mention.

Correctly so, the NAM believes. The new Milken Institute study, “Jobs for America,” concludes “modernizing U.S. export controls could increase exports in high-value areas. By 2019, these policy adjustments could enhance real GDP by $64.2 billion (0.4 percent), create 160,000 manufacturing jobs, and heighten total employment by 340,000.” The in-depth analysis is here.

The President also reaffirmed the Administration’s oft-stated belief in the value of trade agreements.

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. (Applause.) But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. (Applause.) And that’s why we’ll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia. (Applause.)

But let’s do more than “strengthen” — let’s ENACT. The President would have helped achieve the goal he had just set by calling on Congress to enact the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement, and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

As NAM President John Engler said in a press briefing Monday, “”We believe we absolutely have the votes for the Panama and Colombia agreements.” And… “We think if they’re serious on the jobs front, they have to look at trade. We’ve got a lot of companies that send a big amount of their production abroad for sale.”

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