Earlier this month, President Barack Obama laid out his plan to rebuild the U.S. economy through the National Export Initiative (NEI) — a five-year effort aimed at creating 2 million new jobs in America by doubling exports. The launching of this initiative, as well as the President’s public support of the pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, is welcome news for California businesses. The President should be commended for recognizing that free and fair trade is an important strategy to create jobs and ensure the long-term growth of the economy.

The President’s focus on international trade should also be a call to action for California businesses. Businesses need to vocalize their support for these FTAs to California’s Congressional representatives. Beyond that, California businesses are urged to take advantage of the export opportunities that will be presented by the NEI. Many companies — particularly small and medium-sized businesses — are not aware of the numerous export opportunities that are available. The NEI, through the U.S. Department of Commerce, will provide a vast array of tools and will help businesses identify new customers and business partners in foreign markets. The initiative will also help businesses access credit.

One of the first NEI-branded initiatives will take place in Los Angeles on March 3-4. The Chamber, the City of Los Angeles, UCLA Anderson and the U.S. Department of Commerce will host The Americas Business Forum — a unique opportunity for exporters to meet with representatives of 14 U.S. Department of Commerce offices in North, Central and South America. The 2010 Americas Business Forum will feature country briefings, best practices workshops and one-on-one export counseling sessions.

The Chamber is proud that the U.S. Dept of Commerce is kicking off the NEI with this program in Los Angeles. Exports will be key to rebuilding the U.S. economy. Join us at The Americas Business Forum to find out how you can grow your business through exports.