A new U.S. cabinet department dedicated to trade would give the government a more complete view of trade and the national economy, said a former chairwoman of the International Trade Commission.
President Obama earlier this month proposed consolidating into one department the U.S. Trade Representative, Export-Import Bank, Small Business Administration, Overseas Private Investment Corp., U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Commerce Department’s core business and trade functions.
“Reorganizing to streamline exports has become and has always been an afterthought,” Paula Stern said Friday at the National Foreign Trade Council. “We were not looking at the totality of what U.S. policy should be.”
The trade community and Congress have been cool to the idea, however. Moving the USTR from executive office would cost the agency its ambassadorial status and the prestige that goes with it, said Alan Wolff, NFTC chairman and former deputy special representative for trade negotiations.
“While it’s easy to say the president’s plan is dead on arrival, I feel that the president has done us a great service by teeing up this proposal,” Stern said. She said that such major changes in government structure take several years to win approval in Congress.