President Barack Obama has announced a new strategy aimed at boosting U.S. exports, saying his administration will work to level the playing field around the world for U.S. businesses and workers.
Linking America's economic recovery with its ability to expand exports, the president used a speech to the U.S. Export-Import Bank in Washington to outline a major new initiative to promote American products overseas.
Recalling his pledge in his State of the Union Address to double American exports over the next five years, President Obama called it "absolutely necessary" to get beyond old debates about the right approach to globalization and trade.
The president said it is more important now than ever for the United States to be able to compete, or it will be left behind by other nations.
"If we stand on the sidelines while they go after those customers we will lose out on the chance to create the good jobs our workers need right here at home. That is why standing on the sidelines is not what we intend to do," said the president.
The National Export Initiative seeks to combine U.S. government resources to focus on export promotion and expansion, including a new Export Promotion Cabinet that will bring together the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Agriculture, and Labor, along with the U.S. Trade Representative.
The president named two prominent business leaders to head an advisory committee on international trade called the President's Export Council.
President Obama also used his speech to press China on its currency policies, saying action by Beijing to adjust the value of the yuan would contribute to a "rebalancing" of economies, something the G-20 nations agreed was a necessary response to the global financial crisis:
"Everybody's got to re-balance. Countries with external deficits need to save and export more," he said. "Countries with external surpluses need to boost consumption and domestic demand. And as I've said before, China moving to a more market-oriented exchange rate would make an essential contribution to that global rebalancing effort," he added.
The remarks about China come as the Obama administration faces a decision on whether to label China a currency manipulator in a Treasury Department report due out next month, a move that would increase tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Though President Obama pledged to strengthen relations with key partners South Korea, Panama and Colombia he offered no specifics on how the administration will move ahead with free trade agreements with these countries that the U.S. Congress has yet to approve.
He said the U.S. seeks "an ambitious and balanced agreement" under the Doha round of trade talks, in his words, not just for the sake of any agreement, but for one that enhances market access for American agriculture, goods, and services."