The Department of Commerce organized a blogger/media roundtable today with Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez of the International Trade Administration to discuss Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative and its goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years.
Secretary Sanchez drew distinctions between the Administration’s short- and long-term goals in its trade agenda. The short-term ones, measured on a 12-month basis, could be achieved through advocacy, such things as trade missions, export promotion, international trade fairs and the like. In the first eight months of 2010, that approach could account for $11.6 billion in U.S. content being exported, compared to $7.4 billion for all of 2009.
Also, Sanchez said, “We also recognize that we have to be engaged in some things that can give us some long-term successes, mainly that come from reducing barriers.” That includes, but is not limited to free trade agreements.
The National Association of Manufacturers’ new “Blueprint to Double Exports in Five Years” lays out a multifaceted plan for accomplishing the President’s goals. The report is heavy on figures and targets, which led us to ask how the Administration planned to measure its success. What are its metrics?
Sanchez said Secretary Locke stressed metrics, the Department was working to “tighten them up” further, and 12-month, short-term goals have clear standards of measurement.
What’s a little tougher to measure the trade barriers work. No. 1, it’s not something we’re going to knock out in 12 months. You can say we’re going to do 12 trade missions, you can say we’re going to bring 2,000 international buyers to the United States, we’re going work to on a dozen advocacy cases, whatever that is.
The trade barriers work doesn’t lend itself to that type of a measurement, yet it’s a very important part of accomplishing the president’s goals, so I’d say in some areas, yes, I think we have good metrics. In the trade barrier side, it’s a little more challenging to lock it down.
Sanchez did not mention Secretary Locke’s announcement today of a newly constituted Manufacturers Council, which the ITA will direct.
We’ve put two audio (.mp3) segments of today’s interviews online. The first is Undersecretary Sanchez’s opening comments. The second is Sanchez’s comments on metrics, short-term vs. long-term priorities, and free trade agreements. In this segment, he responds to our initial question and another from Ian Talley of The Wall Street Journal. Talley wrote a good story this week exploring industry’s views of the President’s National Export Initiative, “Industry: Trade Deals Vital to Meet Obama’s Export Goal.”
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