The President’s Export Council, meeting for the first time in seven years, recently offered several recommendations on ways the White House can further promote U.S. exports. The PEC also received the Biden administration’s latest National Export Strategy, which establishes U.S. trade promotion priorities and highlights federal government programs and resources that can help U.S. businesses overcome barriers to exporting to other markets.
The PEC called on the president to launch a new interagency strategy to promote trade facilitation abroad. With the goal of achieving durable results in U.S. export markets, the PEC said, this strategy would establish trade facilitation as a key U.S. economic goal both in implementing existing agreements and programs and guiding agencies negotiating future agreements and programs such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity and the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.
According to the PEC, the strategy should set specific priorities across all U.S. trade and other international economic initiatives. These priorities should include the continued digitization of customs procedures, which particularly benefits small traders such as U.S. exporters that do not have the time and money to devote to the outdated and more resource-intensive paper-based process. In addition, trade facilitation provisions should be binding, enforceable, and implementable by U.S. trading partners.
The PEC wants this strategy to (1) reassess and refine existing executive branch governance structures setting agency roles and responsibilities, including how to promote U.S. trade facilitation priorities at the World Customs Organization, World Trade Organization, and other relevant international organizations, (2) coordinate all the various technical assistance and capacity-building efforts of the U.S. government to sharpen the focus on trade facilitation concepts, and (3) contain a mechanism for recurring feedback, outside of cleared advisors, from the private sector, civil society, workers, academia, and other interested U.S. stakeholders.
As part of a broader effort to enhance U.S. competitiveness, the PEC recommended that the Department of Commerce align export promotion programs with place-based investment and competitiveness initiatives. This could include facilitating the ability of place-based programs to engage with the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service to support early-stage companies, connecting regional initiatives to peers designing and implementing best practices strategies for export promotion, and linking regions with a focus on specific critical technologies with relevant sector-based inbound trade missions and other relevant export initiatives.
Other steps the PEC urged include (1) engaging with other countries to address the lack of acceptance of U.S. standards, which effectively creates a barrier to increasing U.S. exports, in key sectors that create U.S. manufacturing jobs, (2) considering opportunities to promote U.S. services exports as part of both existing and future trade negotiations and provisions, and (3) considering reinstating the PEC Subcommittee on Export Administration to understand the potential unintended consequences of export control actions on U.S. exports and seek advice on whether evolving next-generation defense capabilities and technologies require changes to current U.S. policy or export control licensing requirements.
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