In advance of last week’s meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC), President Obama issued Executive Order 13630 to establish an interagency task force on commercial advocacy to help U.S. exporters get better access to commercial diplomacy, financing, market intelligence, business leads and technical assistance.

The Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center, which promotes U.S. companies bidding on projects for foreign governments and foreign government-owned corporations, will lead the task force. Currently, 15 federal agencies play a role in export promotion and trade policy. The Advocacy Center last year helped U.S. firms win about $87 billion in contracts. The new Task Force is part of broader efforts under the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which has the goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. The Commerce Department also released a Fact Sheet with more details.

The Executive Order laid out several objectives for the Task Force:

Review and prioritize already approved commercial advocacy cases, and coordinate the activities of relevant agencies to enhance federal support for those cases, to better help U.S. exporters competing for foreign procurements;

  • Increase the number of senior-level agency officials regularly and effectively advocating on behalf of U.S. exporters by coordinating the engagement of agency leadership with their foreign counterparts regarding commercial advocacy issues, particularly during foreign travel and other occasions for engagement with foreign officials;
  • Increase the number of U.S. businesses utilizing commercial advocacy services by developing strategies to raise the awareness of commercial advocacy assistance within the U.S. business community;
  • Expand awareness of opportunities for U.S. businesses to sell their goods and services to foreign governments;
  • Facilitate voluntary short-term personnel exchanges between the Commerce Department and other Task Force agencies, to cross-train federal personnel to better serve U.S. exporters.

The Task Force is also required to submit a progress report to the Export Promotion Cabinet every six months detailing the number of commercial advocacy cases opened and successfully concluded, the number of commercial advocacy engagements by senior-level agency officials, and the number of U.S. businesses utilizing commercial advocacy services.

The NAM has long been supportive of the NEI and other federal export promotion efforts, highlighting exports as part of “A Manufacturing Renaissance” and offering a “Blueprint to Double Exports in Five Years.”  The NAM has also partnered with the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service to help manufacturers expand their export sales through the New Market Export Initiative (NMEI). Through the NMEI, the NAM will work with manufacturers to find new markets for your U.S. manufactured products.

Lauren Airey is director of trade facilitation policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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