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Obama Promotes Export Policy To Rally Economy

In one of its many efforts to pump up the economy, the Obama administration is focusing on exports to jumpstart post-recession business.

James T. Berger (June/July 10)
(page 2 of 3)
Four Multilateral Export Control Regimes
Export control policy must maintain national security and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction to irresponsible governments. To ensure this, four multilateral export control regimes - or international bodies that nations use to organize their export control systems - have been established. The United States is a member of all four, which include:
Wassenaar Arrangement - Established in 1995, it contributes to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) - Founded in 1974 in response to India's nuclear weapons test, the NSG seeks to reduce nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be used to develop nuclear weapons. It also safeguards and protects existing materials.


Australia Group - Founded in 1985, the Australia Group was established after Iraq's use of chemical weapons in 1984. It helps member countries identify exports that must be controlled to limit the spread of chemical and biological weapons.

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) - Established in 1987, the MTCR focuses on curbing the spread of nuclear weapon delivery systems.

Obama Administration
Obama's initiative is a three-phase push to overhaul the U.S. export controls regime within a year by streamlining and consolidating licensing review. The new approach establishes a "single-licensing agency working from a single-export control list coordinating with a single enforcement-coordination agency and using a single information technology system," according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who presented the Obama initiative to the nonpartisan group Business Executives for National Security in April.

Gates outlined the Obama proposal and the steps required to implement it. The result would be a "system where higher walls are placed around fewer, more critical items," Gates said. The overhaul would be good for the U.S. industrial base, Gates added, as it would create and sustain foreign allies and control new and evolving technologies.

That month, the Commerce Department released its "Exports Support American Jobs" paper. The report found that 2008 exports supported 10.3 million American jobs, including more than 25 percent of manufacturing jobs. The paper suggested that export policy could reduce unemployment rates.

Promoting exports is a trade policy goal that can win bipartisan support in Congress, Daniel Griswold wrote in an April 27 Washington Times article. "Everybody loves exports, and with good reason," he wrote. "Selling abroad helps U.S. companies ramp up production, lower per-unit costs, and reach new growing markets."

To achieve Obama's goal, exports must grow 15 percent annually, a rate that has only been achieved for one year in the last three decades, Griswold noted. While daunting, Griswold suggested a three-pronged trade initiative:
•Persuade Congress to enact previously negotiated trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama - The U.S. International Trade Commission predicts that the Colombia agreement would increase U.S. exports by $1.2 billion a year, and the Korean agreement by $10 billion.
•End the trade embargo with Cuba - When the embargo was lifted on the sale of farm goods, Cuba quickly became one of the top customers of American-made goods in Latin America.
•Quickly resolve outstanding trade disputes against the United States, such as the ban on safety-certified Mexican trucks on U.S. highways - This policy has caused Mexico to impose $2.4 billion of sanctions on U.S. exports.
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