"For many years, the U.S. government has played an active role in promoting U.S. commercial exports of goods and services by administering various forms of export assistance through federal government agencies. Congress has had a long-standing interest in the effectiveness and efficiency of federal export promotion activities and may exercise export promotion authority in a number of ways, including through oversight, authorization, and funding roles. The recent global economic downturn has renewed congressional interest in U.S. government efforts to expand U.S. exports levels. In addition, in 2010, President Obama introduced a National Export Initiative (NEI), a strategy for doubling U.S. exports by 2015 to generate U.S. jobs. The NEI's key components are to (1) improve advocacy and trade promotion efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters; (2) increase access to export financing; (3) reinforce efforts to remove barriers to trade, such as through free trade agreements (FTAs); (4) enforce trade rules; and (5) pursue policies to promote strong, sustainable, and balanced global economic growth. The NEI also contains a focus on expanding specific U.S. exports, such as exports from small businesses. The growing interest in federal export promotion raises a number of issues for the 112th Congress. One debate involves export promotion definitions. Based on varying views, activities that constitute export promotion can range from direct forms of export assistance (such as commercial advocacy or export financing) to broader forms (such as negotiating FTAs). Although the main goal of export promotion policy generally is to boost U.S. exports, policymakers may use export promotion to advance other goals, such as macroeconomic, economic sector-specific, or international trade policy goals, and may differ on how to prioritize such goals."
CRS Report for Congress, R41929