Senate

Obama’s export initiative stiffed again in Senate spending bill

{mosads}That never materialized, and Obama’s request for a $526 million budget for ITA in 2012 also appears headed for rejection. The Senate this week will take up a spending bill that reduces ITA funding further, from $450 million in 2011 to $441 million in 2012.

“The Committee remains supportive of the National Export Initiative [NEI], but regrettably the overall funding level for fiscal year 2012 does not afford increases to ITA,” Senate appropriators said in their report accompanying the bill, S. 1572. The language added that while the NEI is a “worthy plan,” it cannot be funded “for the second year in a row because funding for the International Trade Administration is stalled.”

Instead, the report instructs ITA to continue looking for ways to reduce costs, in large part by reducing staff. The report instructs that any savings from that effort should be used “for the purposes of advancing export promotion and maintaining a presence in foreign markets.”

The Senate this week is taking up S. 1572 as part of a broader package of spending bills that also cover agriculture and transportation.

As envisioned under Obama’s executive order, Commerce was to help implement the NEI by ensuring the effectiveness of government-led trade missions and finding other ways to tweak the government’s commercial advocacy efforts to help U.S. companies sell more overseas.

While funding has not been set aside at Commerce to help fulfill the NEI, funding is not seen by all as necessary in order to reach the goal of doubling exports. Several observers have noted that a global economic recovery on its own would significantly increase U.S. exports.

Seasonally adjusted exports of U.S. goods and services in 2009 totaled $1.58 trillion in 2009, and that climbed to $1.84 trillion in 2010. Through August of 2011, U.S. exports are on a pace to rise again by another few hundred billion dollars.

Some observers have also noted that the timing of Obama’s NEI program will also make it easier to naturally increase exports without much in the way of government assistance, because exports fell near the end of the last decade after the recession hit.

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