From Sunlen Miller
Declaring that his administration is off to a “solid start” on his State of the Union pledge to double US exports over the next 5 years, President Obama gave what the White House is calling a “progress report” on the goal.
“Our efforts are off to a solid start. American exports grew almost 17 percent over the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year,” Obama said from the East Room, “Part of this, of course, is due to the global recovery. But we’re also moving forward on improving conditions for America’s exporters.”
Part of that effort is the creation of the National Export Initiative, called for in March through an Executive Order. Mr. Obama announced today the members of the President’s Export Council – a group that includes business and labor leaders who will offer their “unfiltered advice and expertise” on how best to promote exports.
“This is about more than what government can do. This is about what our businesses can do,” Obama said today before the business leaders in the White House, “Because America’s success ultimately depends on your success. It’s the private sector that has always been the source of our job creation, our economic growth and our prosperity, and it’s our businesses and workers who will take the reins of this recovery and lead us forward.”
The 18 members of the council, formally appointed today, include Bob Iger, President and Chief Executive Office of The Walt Disney Company, Alan Mulally, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company, and Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon, among others.
Jim McNerney, President and CEO of Boeing, and Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox will serve as the chair and vice chair.
This morning the president received a briefing from members of his Cabinet on the progress on exports promotion thus far, and has asked for another progress report at the next meeting in September from the panel.
Touting the job creation benefits, the president called export growth “imperative” to job growth, citing that in 2008 American exports accounted for nearly 7% of total employment, one in three manufacturing jobs, and supported 10.3 million jobs in all.
“The United States of America should not, cannot, will not play for second place,” he said, “We mean to compete for those jobs and we mean to win. But we’re going to have to change how we do business.”
The president said that for a long time the nation was “trapped” in a political debate, “where business was on one side, labor was on the other, there were partisan divides; the argument was either you were pro-trade or you were anti- trade.”
He called for both communities to work together.
“When the playing field is even, nobody can beat us. And we are upping our game for the playing field of the 21st century. We’ve got to do it together. We’ve got to all roll in the same direction.”