Export Promotion:

Mixed Progress in Achieving a Governmentwide Strategy

GAO-02-850: Published: Sep 4, 2002. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 2002.

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Ten years ago, to coordinate the activities of the various federal agencies involved in export promotion and to ensure better delivery of services to potential exporters, Congress established the interagency Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) under the Export Enhancement Act of 1992. Among other things, the act required the committee to develop a governmentwide strategic plan that (1) establishes priorities for federal activities in support of U.S. export activities and (2) proposes the annual, united federal trade promotion budget that supports the plan. TPCC's annual national export strategies identify broad priorities for promoting U.S. trade, but they do not discuss agencies' specific goals or assess progress made. In its initial strategies, the committee identified 10 regionally dispersed priority markets for future trade promotion efforts, but it did not discuss agencies' specific goals or report later on progress made in increasing exports to these markets. Shifting to a regional approach 3 years later in its 1997 strategy, the committee identified Central and Eastern Europe as a region where U.S. government assistance to U.S. exporters would be important in increasing market share. Again the strategy did not discuss agencies' specific goals nor did later strategies report on progress made or even cover consistent topics from year to year. Without regular assessments of progress, it is not clear whether export promotion resources are being used most productively in support of the strategy. Furthermore, the committee has limited ability to align agency resources with its strategy. The committee has made modest but inconsistent progress in coordinating federal agencies' export promotion efforts. In its first national export strategy in 1993, the committee identified coordination weaknesses and recommended improvements, most of which required interagency consensus to implement. Although many of its initial recommendations were implemented during the committee's first few years, some have not been implemented--for example, the need for improved agency staff training and improved trade information services to bring clarity to the export process, as well as the need for expanded outreach and trade education for new-to-export firms.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To assist federal agencies in making the best use of federal export promotion resources and to assist U.S. exporters, the Chairman of the TPCC should ensure that its national export strategies consistently identify agencies' specific goals within the strategies' broad priorities.

    Agency Affected: Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation has not been consistently implemented in the national export strategies.

    Recommendation: To assist federal agencies in making the best use of federal export promotion resources and to assist U.S. exporters, we recommend that the Chairman of the TPCC should ensure that its national export strategies consistently identify how agencies' resources are allocated in support of their specific goals.

    Agency Affected: Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation has not been consistently implemented in the national export strategies.

    Recommendation: To assist federal agencies in making the best use of federal export promotion resources and to assist U.S. exporters, we recommend that the Chairman of the TPCC should ensure that its national export strategies consistently analyze progress made in addressing the recommendations in the committee's prior annual strategies.

    Agency Affected: Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation has not been consistently implemented in the national export strategies.

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