Washington (CNN) -- A series of steps aimed at bolstering U.S. exports brought a 17 percent increase in the first four months of 2010 over the same period last year, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday.
Obama's National Export Initiative, introduced during his State of the Union address in February, seeks to double exports over the next five years. The president told an audience of business and labor leaders at the White House that the measure is an integral part of a long-term economic growth plan.
"This isn't just about where jobs are today," Obama said. "This is where American jobs will be tomorrow. Ninety-five percent of the world's customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders. So if we want to find new growth streams ... we've got to compete for those new customers -- because other nations are."
The program has made progress on its five main objectives, Obama said, including the coordination of trade missions in 24 countries; increased loans to help American exporters; breaking down trade barriers; enforcing trade rules, and promoting international economic cooperation.
Among other things, Obama highlighted an agreement reached in March to reopen the Chinese market to American pork products. He also cited an agreement to reopen Russia to U.S. poultry. Combined, the two steps are worth more than $1 billion to American businesses, he said.
Obama said the U.S. government is reforming its own restrictions on exports "consistent with our national security interests."
The President's Export Council is headed by W. James McNerney Jr., chairman, president and CEO of The Boeing Company, and Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation.