America's approach to export policy has always been somewhat chaotic. Smaller countries such as Japan and Switzerland learned long ago that they must sell goods overseas or watch their economies grind to a halt. But the US domestic market was so huge and hungry it could gobble up most everything American manufacturers produced.
Not anymore. Exports now account for twice as large a percentage of GNP as they did in 1970. The United States is no longer relatively independent of export revenues.
Hence the creation of the Fowler-McCracken Commission, a star-studded group sponsored by the nonprofit International Management and Development Institute. The group's aim is to better coordinate government policy and business interests with regard to exports.
President Reagan endorsed the commission as a "major example" of the initiatives needed to tackle the "economic challenges facing the American people."
Beginning July 1, the commission will analyze problems of US competitiveness in three areas:
* Research and development, and productivity.
* Trade and investments.