Thursday, March 11, 2010

Expanding US Exports, One Frequent Flyer Mile at a Time

President Obama broke out his teleprompters today and delivered remarks before the Export-Import Bank on the administration's big National Export Initiative.

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;
  • 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 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.
    But hey, today's speech wasn't a total waste of time for those in attendance, as the President did announce one new thing:
    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."

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