President Obama outlines progress toward doubling U.S. exports

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 7 – President Obama insisted in an exports speech at the White House Wednesday that the administration's “series of dramatic and sometimes unpopular actions . . . broke the recession’s momentum,” triggering steady private sector job creation.

Claiming solid progress, Obama told an audience of top industry and labor leaders that “Our economy has now grown for three consecutive quarters and created nearly 600,000 private sector jobs in the first half of this year – a stark contrast to the 3.7 million we lost over the first half of last year. And despite uncertain world events and the resulting ups and downs in the market, we are moving America forward again.”

Obama said that to achieve the goals of full employment and sustained economic growth, a thriving private sector is essential because “the private sector that has always been the source of our job creation, our economic growth, and our prosperity.” Aware of current Republican charges that he's advocating a “government takeover” of the economy, Obama insisted instead that his audience of industry executives representing major companies including ADM, Boeing, Dow Chemical, Pfizer, Vermeer and Xerox “understands that free markets depend on a government that sets clear rules that ensure fair and honest competition; that lives within its means; that invests in certain things the private sector can’t invest in on its own.”

Obama acknowledged that “Too much government regulation and spending can stifle innovation, can hamper confidence and growth, and hurt business and families.” But he pointed out that as shown by the Wall-Street-driven recession, “A government that does too little can be just as irresponsible as a government that does too much.”

Obama then emphasized the need to pursue his goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years: “Export growth leads to job growth and economic growth. . . at a time when jobs are in short supply, building exports is an imperative. . . This is where American jobs will be tomorrow. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers and fastest growing markets are beyond our borders.”

With U.S. exports up 17% for the first quarter this year compared to last year, Obama credited aggressive export promotion efforts. He said there've already been significant results such as “an agreement with China to reopen their market to American pork and pork products” and “an agreement with Russia to reopen their market to American poultry.” He said the administration is also working on the Doha Round, “the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to expand our commercial presence in some of the most dynamic markets in Asia,” and plans to submit the pending Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia “as soon as possible for congressional consideration.”

The President's speech following a morning meeting he held with members of the President’s Export Council (PEC), an advisory group first created by executive order in 1973. Obama appointed Boeing president and CEO W. James McNerney Jr. as chairman and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns as vice chair of the group in March. Participants in the PEC meeting with the President included:

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Stephanie A. Burns, Chairman, President & CEO, Dow Corning Corporation
Scott Davis, Chairman & CEO, UPS
Richard Friedman, President & CEO, Carpenter & Company, Inc.
Gene Hale, President & Founder, G&C Equipment Corporation
C. Robert Henrikson, Chairman, President & CEO, MetLife, Inc.
William Hite, General President, United Association
Robert A. Mandell, Chairman & CEO, Greater Properties
Jim McNerney, Chairman, President & CEO, The Boeing Company
Raul Pedraza, Founder & President, Magno International, L.P.
Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman & CEO, Verizon
Glenn Tilton, Chairman, President and CEO, UAL Corporation and Chairman & CEO, United Air Lines
James S. Turley, Chairman & CEO, Ernst & Young
Patricia Woertz, Chairman of the Board, CEO & President, Archer Daniels Midland Company

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