Budget 2012: Invest in Exports to Compete

by Emilia Istrate, Bruce Katz | February 17, 2011

Efforts to boost U.S. competitiveness feature prominently in the administration’s FY 2012 budget.  Significantly, the proposal expands the nation’s export playbook because growing exports requires more than trade and currency policy tweaks. Exporting companies need an efficient transportation system to ship their goods abroad, effective innovation, education, and workforce development policies to increase the quality of exported goods and services, and extensive export financing and trade services to maintain and expand their reach to markets across the world.

The president maintains his commitment to the National Export Initiative announced last year on several fronts:

A few programs related to trade were zeroed out or cut, most for good reasons. For example, the administration reduced the funds available to the Emergency Steel Loan Guarantee pro­gram by $43 million, an unnecessary price support for U.S. steel producers in times of price gains for steel products. An eliminated program, the $ 16 million Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program will be offset by the doubling of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program in the Department of Labor (proposed to increase to $ 1.28 billion) and new Trade Adjust­ment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants.

In these fiscally challenging times, the administration should find new ways to leverage export promotion efforts in states and metros around the country. This would create both a broader effort and a clearer division of labor among the federal government, states, metros, and the private sector. This should be a matter of coordination and specialization, and not create overlap and unnecessary burdens.

If the United States is to meet its export goals, a federalist competitiveness agenda, with the federal budget more connected with the efforts on the ground, will be necessary.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-avenue/83685/budget-2012-invest-in-exports-compete