A Commerce Department official was in Wichita on Thursday to tout the Obama administration's export initiatives and meet with some aviation and non-aviation manufacturers.
Ro Khanna, deputy assistant secretary for Commerce's U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, spent the day meeting with officials at Spirit AeroSystems, Cessna Aircraft, BG Products, Ametek Advanced Industries and Machinists union officials.
He also was to speak at a Kansas World Trade Council meeting Thursday night.
Khanna said earlier Thursday he was here to promote the administration's plan to double U.S. exports in five years.
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To reach that goal, the administration in September said it would launch several efforts, including a national campaign to raise awareness of export opportunities and federal assistance in exporting to small- and medium-size businesses, making the export.gov website more user-friendly and increasing the number of trade missions led by senior government officials.
Officials also hope to increase the number of international buyers attending U.S. trade shows as well as extend additional export credit to companies through existing trade finance agencies.
Year-to-date, Khanna said U.S. exports were up 17.8 percent.
"Some of it, we'd like to think, is the initiatives we've undertaken," Khanna said.
He said exports will have to grow at least 14.5 percent a year for the next five years to reach Obama's goal.
Wichita is an important part of U.S. exports, given its high concentration of manufacturing workers and its standing as the Air Capital, Khanna said.
"Wichita in particular has an important role to play in the initiative," he said.
The goal of doubling exports will help to reduce the country's trade deficit and increase employment in the U.S.
"The more we can grow exports, the more the Cessnas and the BGs can grow their work force," Khanna said.