It was utterly uneventful.
The text of Obama's remarks is available here, and it's the same old NEI story:
- Trying to double exports in five short years through the impotent triumvirate of export promotion, Ex-Im Bank funding and increased enforcement actions (hooray more bureaucrats!);
- Trying to sell free trade through self-defeating mercantilism;
- Completely ignoring the importance of imports for US manufacturers and consumers (and, sigh, even denigrating them as mere "cheap televisions" and manufacturing-job-killers);
- Re-starting the private-sector "President's Export Council" and creating the public-sector "Export Promotion Cabinet" (hooray new decisionmaking layers!);
- Not promising to submit implementing legislation in 2010 on pending US FTAs with Colombia, South Korea and Panama;
- Not promising to resolve outstanding bilateral (Mexican trucks, Buy American, etc.) and multilateral/WTO (Brazil - cotton subsidies, Zeroing, etc.) trade disputes, thus costing US exporters billions of dollars in extra tariffs and lost sales;
- Not promising to advance the WTO's Doha Round by submitting an aggressive US agenda or, at a bare minimum, affirming the United States' 2008 negotiating offers (despite myriad pleas from our trading partners); and
- Not introducing any proven measures - like a cut in America's absurdly high corporate tax rate or the elimination of domestic tariffs on industrial machinery and inputs (see, e.g., the UK or Canada) - to enhance US companies' global competitiveness.
We’re also announcing more than 40 trade and reverse trade missions that are scheduled for this year. The Department of Commerce, for example, has sent a trade mission to India this week; Secretary Vilsack is off to Japan on April 15th. So advocacy is going to be critical.Vilsack! Locke! Trade missions! We're saved*!!
*Ed. note: "saved" may or may not actually mean "screwed."