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Obama is unlikely to meet his goal on exports

February 12, 2013: 12:18 PM ET

Three years ago in his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled a lofty goal to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

At this point, it doesn't look like he will get there.

Last week we found out that exports had a record year in 2012, totaling $2.2 trillion. The administration called it "further proof that 'Made in the USA' products are in demand all over the world."

But to reach Obama's goal, exports need to total around $3.2 trillion in 2014, increasing 45% over the next two years. That's quite a stretch, considering that exports grew only 4.5% in 2012, and 38% over the last three years combined.


Overall, the goal to double exports means little for U.S. economic growth and jobs until you factor in imports as well. The United States imports far more foreign goods and services than it exports, and has been doing so since 1975.

Exports only boost U.S. economic growth when the trade gap narrows. Such was the case in 2012, and if that continues, it could be an encouraging sign of stronger job growth ahead, even if we don't get to the $3.2 trillion goal.

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