WASHINGTON — President Obama put a priority on exports, opening new markets, trade enforcement and cracking down on counterfeit products by proposing significant increases in funding for agencies governing trade in the federal budget blueprint he submitted to Congress on Tuesday.
This story first appeared in the March 5, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2015, which begins Oct. 1, would increase funding for trade agencies. Obama’s plan is unlikely to pass as it stands, but serves as a guide to help Democrats in Congress heading into November’s midterm elections. The budget blueprint also sends a signal to the business community that the President is placing an emphasis on international trade.
Obama’s proposal calls for increasing the budget for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to $56 million from the $52.6 million in current funding. USTR is trying to finalize negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with 11 countries, including Vietnam, the second-largest apparel supplier to the U.S. The agency is also in the early stages of talks on a trade deal with the European Union, a key export market for U.S. products.
“Under the President’s budget, USTR will be able to properly pursue American jobs by opening markets to Made-in-America products and bolstering our ability to level the playing field for our workers by standing up for our rights in the global trading system,” said USTR Michael Froman. “These investments are part of a broader strategy that includes investment in new manufacturing technologies, infrastructure, research and innovation, and education.”
The International Trade Administration, a division of the Commerce Department that is leading the President’s National Export Initiative and also houses the Office of Textiles and Apparel, would receive a $27 million increase in funding to $497 million under the President’s proposal. It would also double funding for the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, which addresses unfair trade practices and barriers, to $15 million. The proposal would also expand funding to $20 million from $7 million for the SelectUSA program, which promotes reshoring and attracting foreign investment.
The Customs and Border Protection agency, which inspects and seizes counterfeit goods shipped through U.S. ports, would maintain its current funding level with the President’s proposal of $10.47 billion. It would also increase the number of Customs officers by 2,000 to 25,775 to help reduce wait times at ports, expedite the flow of trade and crack down on counterfeits.