American Firms Look Abroad for Profits

`NO other nation sells more outside its borders. The Germans, the British, the Japanese can't touch the productivity of you, the American worker and the American farmer," President Bush assured his audience at the Republican National Convention in Houston last week.

US trade officials say that given the administration's national export push, state and local awareness is increasing. But recession has clearly reordered business strategies. Many companies are responding to dampened domestic demand by stepping up their sales overseas.

The National Governors' Association has a committee on international trade and foreign relations that convened recently to discuss the importance of integrating exporting into local business strategies. The governors called on the NGA to explore new markets, including the possibility of promoting exports in Japan and Moscow.

The National Conference of State Legislatures met in late July to assess a host of trade issues, such as obstacles to Japan's market and new markets in Eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet republics. Edward Yardeni, chief economist of C. J Lawrence in New York, expects that "exports will be a much bigger contributor to US economic growth" in the future. A recent Government Accounting Office report asserts that Uncle Sam does far less than other governments to promote national products abroad.

Rep. Doug Barnard (D) of Georgia, chairman of the subcommittee on commerce, consumer, and monetary affairs of the House Committee on Operations, blasts the Bush administration for hindering the country's export competitiveness. "At a time of large deficits, when we must put more resources into export-promotion ... some of our largest trade competitors in the European Community - the Germans, French, British, and Italians - devote a greater share of their resources than we do to export promotion."

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