The federal government needs to better manage, promote and coordinate trade programs so that export resources can be better used to help small and medium-sized business be globally competitive, according to a Government Accountability Office report released today.
The GAO recommends that the Interagency Promotion Coordinating Committee require member agencies to detail what resources they use to promote exports and how those resources align with President Obama’s export strategy. Obama in 2010 set the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2015 through the National Export Initiative.
“Despite the current emphasis on export promotion as a high-priority goal, recent strategies have provided less information on budget resources than have previous strategies…,” according to the GAO report. “The TPCC last publicly reported a summary budget table in 2008. TPCC secretariat officials acknowledged that the TPCC agencies currently place little emphasis on displaying or discussing agencies’ resources in the National Export Strategy.”
The report comes after House Small Business Committee Chairman Graves, R-Mo., and Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, introduced legislation in May aimed at reducing some of the key obstacles facing small business exporters. The Export Coordination Act would require stronger congressional oversight and better coordination of federal export promotion agencies.
“This GAO report is further verification that federal trade agencies need better collaboration between our export programs so that small businesses can pursue new markets internationally,” Graves said. “Many of the federal assistance trade programs overlap and offer duplicative services, including mirroring the same efforts as many individual state trade offices.
He said that there are more than 20 federal agencies that are involved in some, or all, of the steps in the export process, adding confusion to small businesses that don’t employ designated export officials or trade representatives. The Export Coordination Act was merged with the Export Promotion Reform Act, and Chabot has also sponsored the State Trade Coordination Act, which would establish a framework to ensure federal and state trade agencies work together to help exporters. The Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved both pieces of legislation on July 24.