International Trade:

Effective Export Programs Can Help In Achieving U.S. Economic Goals

GAO-09-480T: Published: Mar 17, 2009. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 2009.

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Loren Yager
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This testimony summarizes observations regarding export promotion challenges from a range of work that GAO has conducted for Congress over the past 4 years. Congress has expressed longstanding concerns regarding several aspects of U.S. export promotion efforts, especially interagency coordination, meeting the needs of small businesses, and effectively enforcing trade agreements.

GAO has reviewed the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) several times since its inception and testified in 2006 that the TPCC had made progress over time in improving interagency coordination. However, its National Export Strategy continued to provide limited information on agencies' goals and progress relative to broad national priorities. GAO states in this testimony that the 2008 National Export Strategy contains information about the status of priority initiatives identified in the prior year's report. It also contains information on individual TPCC member agencies' export promotion strategies and results. However, the strategy still lacks an overall review of agencies' allocation of resources relative to government-wide export promotion priorities. Promoting exports by small businesses has been a perennial priority in the National Export Strategy. While many small businesses export, it is widely recognized that they face a number of challenges in exporting. For example, GAO identified two challenges to monitoring the Export-Import Bank's support for small businesses: (1) developing effective performance measures and (2) maintaining reliable data and reporting. A top trade priority for the United States is opening foreign markets for U.S. goods and services by ensuring that U.S. trading partners comply with existing trade agreements. GAO reviews have raised questions about (1) U.S. government efforts to monitor and enforce trade agreements and (2) the sufficiency of agencies' human capital for performing monitoring and enforcement responsibilities.

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