UPDATE 2-Locke says enforcement will help US double exports

* Locke says cheaper dollar not part of 3-pronged approach

* Strategy includes government advocacy for exporters

* Speech follows Obama’s tough words on China
(Adds more quotes from speech)

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (BestGrowthStock) – The United States will insist
other countries honor commitments to open their markets as it
strives to reach President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling
exports to more than $3 trillion over the next five years, U.S.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said on Thursday.

“Free trade only works in a system of rules where all
parties live up to their obligations,” Locke said in a speech
outlining new Obama’s National Export Initiative to help shift
the U.S. economy away from its heavy reliance on consumer
demand to propel growth.

The plan calls for tough enforcement of U.S. trade laws
against unfairly priced imports, tearing down foreign barriers
to U.S. goods and cracking down on countries that fail to
prevent theft of U.S. intellectual property.

“Every year, American companies in fields as diverse as
energy, technology, entertainment and pharmaceuticals lose
between $200 billion to $250 billion to counterfeiting and
piracy,” Locke said.

He did not direct his comments at China or any country by
name. But Obama made clear on Wednesday the United States
planned to keep up pressure on Beijing.

“The approach that we’re taking is trying to get much
tougher about enforcement of existing rules, putting constant
pressure on China and other countries to open up their markets
in reciprocal ways,” Obama told Democratic senators.

Although some lawmakers favor legislation against China,
Locke said the United States should not raise new barriers that
could start a trade war both sides would lose.

“The president does not believe in protectionism … The
answer is not to restrict imports into the United States. It’s
really to increase exports,” Locke said.

‘ECONOMIC BLIND SPOT’

In his State of the Union speech last week, Obama set the
goal of doubling U.S. exports to support 2 million American
jobs, picking up on an idea touted for months by the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, a leading business group.

During the past 25 years, it took an average of 11 years
for exports to double, Goldman Sachs said in a research note
that called Obama’s goal “very ambitious but not unthinkable.”

The fastest doubling of U.S. exports took 7 years in the
late 1980s, a period in which the dollar declined against other
currencies and the world economy boomed.

Locke insisted there was no hidden reliance in Obama’s plan
on a cheaper dollar to fuel a new export boom.

Instead, he said, it relied on a three-pronged strategy of
tougher enforcement, strong government advocacy for U.S.
exporters and increased export financing.

“This initiative will correct an economic blind spot that
has allowed other countries to slowly chip away at the United
States’ international competitiveness,” Locke said.

“While the U.S. is a major exporter, we are
underperforming. U.S. exports as a percentage of GDP are still
well below nearly all of our major economic competitors,” Locke
said, noting that fewer than 1 percent of the 30 million U.S.
companies currently export.

Although trade was badly hit by the global financial
crisis, U.S. exports of goods and services set a record of
about $1.83 trillion in 2008.

Exports fell in the first half of 2009 but have on been on
the rise since. Final figures due out next week are expected to
show total 2009 exports in the range of about $1.54 trillion.

The Obama administration estimates every $1 billion in
exports supports or creates 6,250 manufacturing jobs.

Obama’s plan creates an Export Promotion Cabinet that
includes top officials from the Departments of Treasury,
Commerce, State and Agriculture, as well as the U.S. Trade
Representative’s office, the Small Business Administration and
the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Each agency will be charged with developing a detailed plan
over the next six months for boosting exports.

Obama also has directed the Export-Import Bank to boost
export credit financing for small and medium-sized businesses
to $6 billion from $4 billion over the next year, and his
budget calls for $80 million in additional funding for the
Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration.

The new resources will allow the agency to hire as many as
328 trade experts to serve as advocates for U.S. companies and
to assist more than 23,000 clients to begin or grow their
export sales in 2011, Locke said.

Investment Basics

(Editing by Alan Elsner and Mohammad Zargham)

UPDATE 2-Locke says enforcement will help US double exports