UPDATE 1-US lays out strategy double exports in 5 years

Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:11pm GMT

* No timetable for free trade pacts with Colombia, Panama

* Report recommends increasing U.S. trade missions abroad

* Republicans say Obama strategy not ambitious enough (Updates with Republican response, 9-10)

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The Obama administration laid out details of a strategy to double U.S. exports over five years on Thursday, recommending ways to boost commerce but steering clear of timetables for advancing stalled free-trade agreements.

The release of the National Export Initiative report, produced by President Barack Obama's "export promotion cabinet" of top advisers and government agencies, sought to highlight the administration's efforts to support the struggling economy and create jobs, the top issue before the Nov. 2 elections.

"Exports are actually leading our economic recovery," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters on a conference call before the report's release. He noted that exports were up roughly 18 percent over the same period last year.

"The more that American companies export, the more they produce. The more they produce, the more people they hire. And that means more jobs," he said.

U.S. officials said opening markets and enforcing existing trade pacts were part of the process of increasing exports. But the report did not lay out a timeline for wrapping up free-trade pacts with Colombia and Panama, an omission that congressional Republicans criticized.   Continued...

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