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Exports Being Pushed By Industry And Government

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

U.S. government and textile industry trade officials are stepping up their efforts to promote exports as one means to create job opportunities.

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for a doubling of exports in the next five years, which, he said, would create two million jobs. He warned that the United States "cannot sit on the sidelines" as other nations expand their export initiatives and called on U.S. manufacturers to "aggressively seek new markets." He announced the formation of a National Export Initiative, but did not cite any specific actions except that he called for strengthening trade relations with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; and for continued support for the Doha Round of trade liberalization negotiations.

In a speech later in the week, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said a "smart, aggressive, progressive trade policy can be a critical part of our overall economic recovery program." In addition, Kimberly Glas, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for textiles and apparel, says she is working on specific actions that will assist textile exporters.

While U.S. textile industry officials are supporting new initiatives to help increase exports, they believe a lack of action on what they see as currency manipulation by foreign nations, particularly China, and illegal trade subsidies and a chronic high level of  imports cannot be offset by expansion of export markets. The textile and apparel trade deficit in the first 11 months of 2009 was running at $68.2 billion on the basis of imports of $82.7 billion and exports of $14.5 billion.

However, the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) has undertaken some initiatives to help with the financing of exports. It is working to have the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Export Working Capital Program expanded so more textile companies can participate. Under that program, SBA provides loans to support export transactions. Those loans support working capital at low fees during export payment cycles. The SBA program is targeted at small businesses that are able to generate export sales but need additional working capital to support the sales.

NCTO also is working with the Export-Import Bank to find affordable and flexible financing options for textile companies interested in exporting.

February 2, 2010