President Obama Addresses Export Policy

March 11, 2010. President Obama signed an executive order titled "National Export Initiative". In addition, the White House news office issued a release on the same subject.

This order states that the U.S. will work to "remove trade barriers abroad". It says nothing about removing U.S. trade barriers to imports from abroad. Neither the executive order nor the release announce support for Congressional approval of the already concluded free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Nor do they announce any new bilateral free trade negotiations.

This order states that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (OUSTR) "shall take steps to improve market access overseas for our manufacturers, farmers, and service providers by actively opening new markets, reducing significant trade barriers, and robustly enforcing our trade agreements".

The order creates a "Export Promotion Cabinet", made up of the heads of a large number of executive branch entities. The release announces the "relaunch" of the "President's Export Council", a body made up of private sector representatives.

The release also addresses U.S. imposed barriers to the export from the U.S. of encryption based products.

It states that "Currently, a U.S. exporter of a product with encryption capabilities (e.g., a cell phone or a network storage system) needs to file with the Department of Commerce for a technical review of the product before they can export. The review can take between 30-60 days. There are over 3,300 such filings each year." (Parentheses in original.)

It continues that a "proposed rule is intended to replace the current review-and-wait process with a more efficient one-time notification notification-and-ship process which may eliminate up to 85 percent of all the technical reviews of these products (about 2,800)." (Parentheses in original.)