WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said renewed efforts to increase U.S. exports would include a high ranking panel that reports directly to the president.
In a National Press Club address, Locke said the National Export Initiative would include formation of an Export Promotion Cabinet made of officials from Commerce, the Treasury, the State Department, the Department of Agricultural, the Export-Import Bank, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Small Business Administration.
The difference between the current push to increase exports and previous attempts is that "prior to the NEI, export promotion may have been a 'some of the time' focus for many U.S. Cabinet agencies and departments. The NEI makes it an 'all the time focus,'" Locke said.
Locke said exports have increased to 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product, but that was still far below most of the major competitors.
"Less than 1 percent of America's companies export … and of U.S. companies that do export, 59 percent export to only one company," he said.
U.S. businesses "cannot afford to miss" the opportunities exports provide, Locke said.