Exporting Round-UpMay 4, 2011
The arena of exporting has seen a good deal of action in recent weeks. President Barack Obama has announced the nomination of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as Ambassador to China and the administration and Congress continue to push forward on key Free Trade Agreements. Additionally, decreases in the trade deficit and the announcement of several new educational programs including a series of exporting videos, a new, on-line trade tariff tool are providing added support to small- and mid-sized exporters.
Locke Nominated for U.S. Ambassador to China
President Barack Obama recently nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to be the new U.S. Ambassador to China. The post is open after former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (R) announced he would resign earlier this year amidst speculation that he may seek the Republican presidential nomination. Huntsman officially stepped down on April 30.
Locke’s appointment will require approval by the Senate, who will likely use the confirmation process to drill Locke about the Obama administration’s policies toward China. Locke has criticized China for not honoring promises to open its market. In February, he said that U.S. companies had a variety of concerns about China’s trade practices and he chided China for not delivering on its promises.
Locke was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Commerce, and the White House said it expects a successful confirmation process for his new post. During the White House announcement, Locke said: “As Commerce Secretary, I’ve helped open up foreign markets for American businesses so they can create more jobs right here in America…I’m eager to continue that work in China and to help you, Mr. President, manage one of America’s most critical and complex diplomatic, economic, and strategic relationships.”
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Free Trade Agreements
Significant progress has been made on three new FTAs with Colombia, Panama and Korea. After months of negotiation, the administration announced April 6 an action agreement with Colombia to resolve outstanding Colombian labor issues that could bring a long-stalled free trade agreement (FTA) with the South American country to Congress this year.
Though much of the attention has been on the Colombian agreement, the White House also confirmed that a pending pact with Panama is nearly complete. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has notified Congress that Panama’s recent ratification of a tax-exchange agreement has cleared the way for a technical drafting of the U.S.-Panama FTA. The announcement is the first official step toward ratifying the agreement later this year. Additionally, the Korean trade agreement has been negotiated and Kirk is hopeful that Congress will begin deliberating the Korea FTA in early May.
Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of House freshmen signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to expeditiously move forward on these three FTAs. The letter—signed by 67 House freshmen—states: “We stand ready to work with you to ensure that new opportunities are created for our farmers, manufacturers, service providers and workers by passing the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea within the next six months.”
Decline in U.S. Trade Deficit
According to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the Commerce Department, the U.S. international trade deficit decreased to $45.8 billion in Feb. 2011 from $47 billion in January. Although exports fell slightly in Feb., imports fell even more, accounting for the decrease in the trade deficit.
February’s exports of goods and services decreased by 1.4 percent to $165.1 billion after climbing 2.6 percent in January to a record-high of $167.5 billion, surpassing the previous record of $165.7 billion in July 2008. Additionally, imports fell 1.7 percent to $210.9 billion after climbing 5.4 percent in January, the biggest gain since 1993.
Some economists expect this year’s trade deficit will come close to matching last year’s $495.7 billion imbalance. That was 32.8 percent higher than the 2009 trade deficit, when the recession cut America’s demand for foreign goods.
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SBA Exporting Forum
On May 18 through 20, the U.S. Small Business Administration will host a variety of events to celebrate America’s small business owners during National Small Business week, including a forum on exporting. The forum, “Exporting Tools for Success,” will be held Friday morning, May 20 and will explore methods for small businesses looking to increase sales and profits through exporting.
Please click here for more details on the exporting forum.
How-To Videos on Exporting
SBA has partnered with Inc. Magazine and AT&T to develop a series of educational videos designed to help small business break into exporting. The video series, “Take Your Business Global,” features five main topics that guide small businesses through the process of exporting: Getting Started in Exporting; Planning for Export Success; Connecting with Foreign Buyers; Financing; and five case studies of successful small business exporters.
The videos feature SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns; U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke; U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, and a variety of small-business exporters.
Please click here for more on the videos.
New On-line Tool for Tariff Information
On April 27, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and the SBA unveiled a new on-line tool that will help small- and mid-sized exporters find streamlined information on tariffs. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tariff Tool streamlines tariff information for 85 percent of goods going to 20 markets with which the U.S. has negotiated trade agreements. According to the USTR, ITA and SBA, this is the first time this kind of information has been made available free of charge through one searchable database.
Please click here for more on the FTA Tariff Tool.