Obama touts bright spot in the US economy: rising US exports
US exports are running 17 percent ahead of the same point last year. Looking beyond the troubled US jobs picture, President Obama says, 'This is where American jobs will be tomorrow.'
President Obama touted a bright spot in the US economy Wednesday, pointing to rising exports as a building block of recovery.
He said exports so far this year are running at a pace 17 percent ahead of the same period last year.
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"This is where American jobs will be tomorrow," Mr. Obama said in remarks that highlighted progress for his National Export Initiative. "Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders."
The refrain is part of a broader White House message as this fall's congressional elections come into view: that the president has a strategy for creating much-needed jobs in the US.
Headwinds are facing the Obama administration on several fronts: The unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, job growth in the private sector is tepid, and Congress doesn't appear to have much appetite for added economic stimulus projects. With domestic consumers and the federal government facing constraints, trade is an obvious place to turn for job growth.
Already, exports account for 10.3 million US jobs, or 7 percent of the total, Obama said in remarks after meeting with his export council. His goal, announced early this year, is to add another 2 million or so jobs in this arena, by doubling America's exports within five years.
Economists widely agree that, in an integrated world economy, the US must look to export-related jobs as a crucial source of growth. But if the latest trade numbers show some progress, they also underscore that it won't be easy for Obama to achieve his export goals.
Part of the past year's export growth, Obama acknowledged, relates simply to a rebound from the depths of recession. But he said his policies are also helping. Exports will have to keep growing at the recent pace to reach his goal.
In the past quarter-century, exports have never doubled in a five-year period, according to an analysis this spring by Sven Jari Stehn, an economist at Goldman Sachs. The report said Obama's "very ambitious" goal might be reached if the world economy posts strong growth (4.5 percent a year) and the US dollar declines 30 percent in value against other currencies.
The most rapid doubling of US exports in the recent past, which occurred during a seven-year stretch in the 1980s, coincided with a declining dollar and a booming global economy.
Obama's export initiative includes steps on several fronts: