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What does U.S. have to export?

Bob Moon Jul 7, 2010
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What does U.S. have to export?

Bob Moon Jul 7, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: You might remember one of the promises President Obama made in his State of the Union address early this year. He made a pledge then. He wanted to double U.S. exports in the next five years. Well today, the president pointed to a 17 percent increase in exports since then and declared his plan is on track. This is all very interesting because with all the jobs we’ve lost overseas in recent years, the common perception is, America no longer produces much that we can export.

So we asked our senior business correspondent Bob Moon, what do we have to sell?


Bob Moon: Some of the country’s top brands are represented on the special advisory panel on exports, appointed by the president today. It includes 18 business and labor leaders, among them the CEOs of Boeing, Ford, Disney, Pfizer, Dow Chemical and MetLife. The president says growing exports of American products and services will lead to job growth and economic recovery.

President Barack Obama: 95 percent of the world’s customers and fastest growing markets are beyond our borders. So if we want to find new growth streams, if we want to find new markets and new opportunities, we’ve got to compete for those new customers.”

Analysts have recently reported increasing demand overseas for U.S.-produced food, automobiles and semi-conductors. But goods from smaller companies like building supply firms are also in demand, and the administration says it intends to promote more exports from smaller businesses. At the National Federation of Independent Business, chief economist Bill Dunkelberg says that help is welcome, as far as it goes.

Bill Dunkelberg: We’re not really heavily engaged directly in exporting, although many small manufacturing firms are in the supply chain of the large companies that are on the president’s council. But the big firms are really the ones that do the large share of exporting, and they are the ones really in the position to help double our exports.

But many experts remain skeptical of the president’s promise. Daniel Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University. He says doubling U.S. exports in five years would take a lot of cooperation from trading partners and a lot of economic luck.

Daniel Drezner: They can’t will it by themselves. It might actually happen no matter what they say, if the global economy recovers to the point where exports recover.

Although skeptical, the experts don’t deny the potential for growth is real, and with exports so low, doubling the number is relative.

I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.

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