Export Promotion:

U.S. Programs Lack Coherence

T-GGD-92-19: Published: Mar 4, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1992.

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GAO discussed: (1) federal export promotion programs; and (2) the competitiveness of U.S. companies in Japan. GAO noted that: (1) since the government does not fund export promotion programs on the basis of any governmentwide strategy or priorities, there is no assurance that government resources are being effectively used to emphasize sectors and programs with the highest potential return; (2) the Department of Agriculture spends the most on export promotion, even though agricultural products only constitute about 10 percent of total U.S. exports; (3) in 1991, the Department of Commerce spread funding for export promotion so widely that it was only able to devote $4.3 million to support its overseas commercial staff in Japan, one of the United States' most important markets abroad; (4) to better focus and coordinate its export promotion programs, the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee has created a trade information center and an interagency calendar of upcoming federal trade promotion events, and Commerce has undertaken a strategic review of its export promotion programs; (5) factors affecting U.S. competitiveness include U.S. macroeconomic policy, the strength of U.S. infrastructure, the health and capability of the U.S. labor force, and private sector management; and (6) U.S. companies that succeed in the Japanese market are well-managed and patient, make a long-term commitment to the Japanese market, and seek help from the U.S. government in removing or overcoming significant trade barriers.

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