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Export Promotion

Federal government agencies have an important role to play in helping U.S. exporters, especially small and medium-sized businesses, overcome obstacles to selling their goods and services abroad.

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In January 2010, the President launched the National Export Initiative with the goal of doubling U.S. exports over 5 years.

The initiative directs the new Export Promotion Cabinet and 20 member agencies of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee to coordinate and align their export promotion activities, which include counseling, customer matchmaking services, and financing for exporters. The initiative lists other priorities including:

  • Exports by small and medium-sized businesses
  • Federal export assistance
  • Increased export credit
  • Reduced barriers to trade
  • Export promotion of services

Figure 1: U.S. Exports, 2009 to 2012, and Exports Needed to Meet 2014 National Export Initiative Goal

Actual U.S. Export Totals for 2009-2011 and Totals Needed to Meet 2014 Goal, Assuming Exports Increase by the Same Percent Each Year

Note: The bars for “Annual exports to meet goal” represent the annual export totals required to achieve the 2014 goal of doubling exports over 2009 levels, assuming identical year-to-year percent increases. Under this assumption, starting in 2010, export totals need to increase by 14.9 percent over the previous year’s totals to double by 2014. Actual yearly export totals may vary from “Annual exports to meet goal.”

Even with some progress in promoting U.S. exports, coordination and management challenges across the many export promotion agencies could hinder their effectiveness in supporting the initiative’s goal. GAO has found, for example:

  • The U.S. Commercial Service, the trade promotion arm of the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, has experienced weaknesses in its performance management, resource allocation, and workforce planning.
  • The U.S. Export-Import Bank, which supports U.S. exporters by providing loans, guarantees, and insurance, faces growing competition from emerging economy export credit agencies, which can provide financing on more favorable terms outside the restrictions of existing international agreements.
  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has made progress addressing the challenges it faces in coordinating with private sector advisors and the Congress. USTR is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and for overseeing negotiations with other countries.
  • The Office of Manufacturing and Services, within the Department of Commerce, could improve the visibility and accountability of its efforts to enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. industry.
Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

U.S. Export-Import Bank:

Actions Needed to Promote Competitiveness and International Cooperation
GAO-12-294:
Published: Feb 7, 2012. Publicly Released: Feb 7, 2012.

National Export Initiative:

U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Should Improve Performance and Resource Allocation Management
GAO-11-909:
Published: Sep 29, 2011. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 2011.

Export Promotion:

Observations on the Export-Import Bank's Efforts to Achieve U.S. Policy Goals
GAO-10-1069T:
Published: Sep 29, 2010. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 2010.

Export Promotion:

Increases in Commercial Service Workforce Should Be Better Planned
GAO-10-874:
Published: Aug 31, 2010. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 2010.

International Trade:

More Reports

Coal Leasing:

Export Promotion:

Better Information Needed about Federal Resources
GAO-13-644:
Published: Jul 17, 2013. Publicly Released: Aug 14, 2013.

Export-Import Bank:

Recent Growth Underscores Need for Improved Risk Management and Reporting
GAO-13-703T:
Published: Jun 13, 2013. Publicly Released: Jun 13, 2013.

Export-Import Bank:

Additional Analysis and Information Could Better Inform Congress on Exposure, Risk, and Resources
GAO-13-620:
Published: May 30, 2013. Publicly Released: May 30, 2013.

Export-Import Bank:

Financing of Dual-Use Exports
GAO-13-628R:
Published: May 29, 2013. Publicly Released: May 29, 2013.

Export-Import Bank:

More Detailed Information about Its Jobs Calculation Methodology Could Improve Transparency
GAO-13-446:
Published: May 23, 2013. Publicly Released: May 23, 2013.

Export-Import Bank:

Recent Growth Underscores Need for Continued Improvements in Risk Management
GAO-13-303:
Published: Mar 28, 2013. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2013.

Export Promotion:

Small Business Administration Needs to Improve Collaboration to Implement Its Expanded Role
GAO-13-217:
Published: Jan 30, 2013. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 2013.

International Affairs:

Follow-up on the Haiti Earned Import Allowance Program
GAO-13-219R:
Published: Dec 14, 2012. Publicly Released: Dec 14, 2012.

Export Controls:

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SBA's Promotion of US ExportsFriday, March 1, 2013
  • portrait of Loren Yager
    • Loren Yager
    • Managing Director, International Affairs and Trade
    • yagerl@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-4347