On January 13, 2011, President Obama unveiled a proposal to create what was described as a new export agency. This activity comes on the heels of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s closure of offices in Caracas, Venezuela; Dakar, Senegal; Florence, Italy; Tijuana, Mexico; Vancouver, Canada; and Vladivostok, Russia that occurred at the end of 2011. The President’s idea is to consolidate the Department of Commerce with the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corp., Trade and Development Agency, and Small Business Administration (“SBA”). This process could also include moving the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (“NOAA”), which includes the National Weather Service, to the Department of the Interior. Already, the head of the SBA is being elevated to a Cabinet-level position.
President Obama, who recently sought to raise the debt ceiling, asserted that the proposed reorganization will result in savings of $300 million over ten (10) years. According to the White House Fact Sheet: “The new Department will lead the development and implementation of an integrated, strategic, government-wide trade effort and have a focused capacity to help businesses grow and thrive.” Part of this proposal is the launch of http://business.usa.gov/, which, at this posting, is not yet operational.
Both the raising of the debt ceiling and the proposed agency/department reorganization are subject to Congressional approval. One wonders what, if any, impact this latest proposal may have on the Administration’s efforts at export reform, which includes a consolidation of functions of various agencies, primarily Defense, State, and Commerce, into a single licensing agency, single computer system, single control list, and single primary enforcement agency.