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Policy Brief 14-7

Rethinking the National Export Initiative

by Caroline Freund, Peterson Institute for International Economics

February 2014


Four years ago, President Barack Obama set the goal of doubling exports within five years and creating 2 million new export-related jobs. The strategy put in place, however, has failed to achieve superior growth. Freund argues that the emphasis on small and medium enterprises in the National Export Initiative, while attractive, was misguided and recommends a specific set of policies that the administration should concentrate on to boost exports. An export boom requires a system that encourages the largest firms to invest and expand exports and facilitates the rapid growth of new highly efficient firms so we get more export superstars. She recommends (1) maintaining a competitive exchange rate, (2) US leadership on market access trade agreements, and (3) improving the business climate, including training and migration to fill the skills gap, encouraging investment and innovation, more stable energy prices, and championing trade openness.

Data disclosure: The data underlying this analysis are available here [xlsx].

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