A new program from the Commerce Department is aimed at breaking the focus too many U.S. firms have on the domestic market and helping them “fully capitalize on markets that are opening up around the world,” Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said during an event launching the initiative.
The new program, dubbed NEI/NEXT, builds on President Obama’s three-year-old National Export Initiative (NEI) program. Under the NEI the U.S. has had four straight record-breaking years of exports – hitting an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year – up $700 billion from 2009. Although nearly one-third of the country’s economic growth since mid-2009 has been driven by exports, far too many businesses are locked into the U.S. consumer, according to a new report from the Commerce Department. And less than five percent of U.S. companies export, and more than half of those exporters sell to only one market.
The NEI/NEXT program is aimed at helping all businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the U.S.
“The initiative we’re announcing today will make it easier for our companies to find export opportunities, gain access to financing, and reach markets outside the United States,” President Obama said in a statement. “As our economy keeps improving, we will continue working to make sure our businesses can compete on a level playing field, create more good jobs here at home, and sell more Made in America products around the world.”
Pritzker, speaking to an audience during an Atlantic Live event Tuesday, said that in the lead up to NEI/NEXT: “We analyzed our programs, [looking at] what’s working and what wasn’t, and NEI/NEXT is about, ‘OK, we’re good at this but we’re not good enough.’ We have a lot of companies exporting, but not enough and not to enough markets… the programs have come from that, listening to your customer, which is what any good service organization would do.”
NEI/NEXT is focused on five strategies:
- Connecting more U.S. businesses to their next global customer with tailored industry-specific information and assistance.
- Making the next international shipment easier and less expensive, through efforts to streamline U.S. government export-related services, reporting requirements and processes, and speeding American goods to more markets through domestic infrastructure improvements.
- Expanding access to finance for U.S. businesses’ next export transaction, helping more exporters obtain financing to meet international demand, and ensuring more companies know what products and services are available to reduce risk and export to new markets with confidence.
- Promoting exports and foreign direct investment attraction as the next economic development priority in communities and regions across the country by enhancing partnerships with local and state leaders and by coordinating with SelectUSA, the U.S. government-wide program housed within the Department of Commerce to facilitate foreign direct investment.
- Creating, fostering and ensuring U.S. business’ next global opportunity by helping developed and developing economies improve their business environments, by opening new markets, and by establishing conditions and addressing barriers to allow more American exporters to compete and win abroad.
Pritzker also highlighted the fact that the Department of Homeland Security is “spearheading” the effort to “implement the ‘single window’ by the end of 2016.” That’s a huge move. Currently, any business that wants to export has to deal with potentially 46 different agencies.
“’Single window’ means that businesses will be able to use just one electronic platform to complete the forms needed by dozens of federal agencies,” Pritzker said. “This is smart regulatory reform that will streamline, simplify, and automate processes – saving government and businesses precious time and money.”
Pritzker also said that as part of the new program, the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank work with community banks to offer federal financing tools.
Brock N Meeks is editor-in-chief of Ideas Lab.