Guest blog post by Francisco Sanchez , Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
America is made up of different communities — each with its own character, challenges and opportunities. Regional leaders have a unique view of these issues and bring to the table incredible insight into their respective regions. That’s why the International Trade Administration (ITA) is firmly committed to working with these local leaders to utilize their insight, and ultimately help more American businesses expand into overseas markets.
This is important work because exporting supports American jobs, provides new opportunities for businesses, and makes significant contributions to the growth of the American economy.
In recognition of these positive economic benefits, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010 with the goal of doubling U.S. exports. On the eve of the NEI’s two-year anniversary — officially on March 12 — I’m proud to say that we are on track to meet this goal. Last year, there were a record $2.1 trillion in exports. Plus, exports comprised nearly 14% of U.S. GDP — another record.
Progress has been made, and we are determined to keep it going. Key to this work is our partnerships with local and regional partners. While ITA has a talented and dedicated staff doing great work in 108 offices throughout the nation, we recognize that we can have an even greater reach through partnership.
Case in point: Our work with the Brookings Institution.
Today, Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program released a report called “Export Nation 2012: How US Metropolitan Areas Are Driving National Growth.” 
We have been proud to work with them on this effort and, in general, on increasing the U.S. exports coming from metropolitan regions.
While it’s important to note that the methodology in calculating the data for this report differs from ours at ITA, its conclusions clearly support what we’ve been saying for a long time, that:
- exports have been instrumental in America’s continuing economic recovery;
- metropolitan areas are, and will continue to be, great engines for growth;
- U.S. companies must put great emphasis on developing countries like India and Brazil; and
- manufacturing is critically important to overall U.S. exporting success.
As part of the event, I participated on a panel with two colleagues in government: Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and Dario Gomez, Associate Administrator for International Trade at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
During a long, wide-ranging discussion, we talked about ways the Federal government is collaborating to assist metropolitan areas in strengthening their commercial ties, including helping businesses get financing and become “export ready.” Specifically relating to ITA, I talked about how we are using trade data and our expert industry knowledge to identify areas where U.S. businesses have a competitive advantage and could capitalize on the demands of the high growth developing countries.
Throughout the conversation, my main message was clear: We want to align our activities with the needs and goals of metropolitan areas across the nation. Doing so is sure to generate benefits across the board — from the local level to the national level.
I urge you to check out the report. And, moving into the future, I ask you to stay tuned for a number of exciting developments.
Like I said during the panel discussion, localizing the NEI isn’t just a slogan; it’s a strategy to boost U.S. exports in the long-term. Working with Brookings and other regional partners, I’m confident that it’s a strategy that will pay off.