UPDATE 2-Obama champions exports in overture to business

* Modernizing outdated export controls key part of plan

* Sealing Bush-era trade deals could divide Democrats

* Wants closer Asian trade ties, push for Doha deal
(Adds comment from former Bush aide, USTR)

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama on
Wednesday launched a drive to double U.S. exports over the next
five years in a move that reaches out to business groups and
Republicans who have criticized his inaction on trade.

“We need to export more of our goods. Because the more
products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we
support right here in America,” Obama said.

“So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports
over the next five years, an increase that will support two
million jobs in America,” Obama said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has locked horns with
Obama on healthcare and a number of other issues during his
first year in office, has been urging him for months to set a
national goal to double exports.

To accomplish that goal, Obama announced a “national export
initiative” to help farmers and small businesses sell more of
their goods overseas, and also promised to reform export
controls that high-tech manufacturers say are out of date.

A recent study for the National Association of
Manufacturers estimated modernizing the controls could boost
U.S. exports by $56 billion annually within the next 10 years
without jeopardizing national security.

Obama said he also wanted closer trade ties with Panama,
Colombia and South Korea. Those three countries have signed
trade deals with the United States. But the pacts have been
stalled for years because of Democratic party opposition.

His reference to the trade deals is an olive branch to
Republicans, who have fought Obama on his big initiatives like
healthcare reform and last year’s economic stimulus law.

But Daniel Price, a lawyer at Sidley Austin and former
White House adviser to George W. Bush, said many would be
“puzzled” by Obama’s failure to explicitly urge approval of the
deals and instead only call for stronger trade ties.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk
replied that Obama has given clear orders not to lose any
chance to create jobs in the United States.

“President Obama has directed USTR to work to resolve
outstanding issues in order to find ways forward on these
agreements, and USTR is doing that work,” the aide said.

DEMOCRATS DIVIDED

Republicans have argued that if Obama is serious about
boosting exports, he should push for approval of the three
trade deals negotiated by the Bush administration.

That risks badly dividing Democrats, many of whom blame the
North American Free Trade Agreement of the early 1990s and
China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 for
millions of lost U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Obama said the United States would lose jobs if it “sits on
the sidelines” while other countries are busy negotiating trade
agreements to open markets. At the same time, the United States
must rigorously enforce its trade deals to make sure other
countries play by rules, he said.

Obama promised to push for closer trade ties in Asia, an
apparent reference to his administration’s plan to negotiate a
regional trade deal in the Asia Pacific.

He also said the United States would continue to push for a
deal in the Doha round of world trade talks that opens up
global markets.

The Doha round was launched in November 2001 with the goal
of helping poor countries prosper through trade.

But negotiators missed their original goal of getting a
deal by January 2005 and the talks remain bogged down.

A senior European Union trade official recently blamed the
United States for the bleak state of the negotiations, saying
other countries still do not know after more than eight years
of talks what Washington needed to reach a deal.

U.S. trade officials say they have been clear that advanced
developing countries like China, India and Brazil must offer
bigger market openings in exchange for cuts in farm subsidies
and in agricultural and manufacturing tariffs that the United
States is being asked to make.

Stock Investing

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Stacey Joyce and Eric
Walsh)

UPDATE 2-Obama champions exports in overture to business