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Not Already Exporting? Consider This Your Engraved Invitation

The President announced his plan to streamline the export process--by way of building out a central clearinghouse for exporting.

Making good on his vow to apply the power of his "pen" and "phone" toward making changes on Capitol Hill, President Obama moved to streamline the process of exporting from days to minutes.

After promising a "year of action" in his recent State of the Union address, the President today signed an executive order mandating the completion of a web-based platform called the International Trade Data System (ITDS). The platform is expected to cut through much of the red tape associated with launching export/import operations, as it would allow businesses to submit documentation to various federal agencies by way of a single portal, or single window.

The order that the President signed aboard AirForce One today says: 

"To ensure that our nation is well-positioned to compete in an open, fair, and growing world economy, the federal government must increase efforts to improve the technologies, policies, and other controls governing the movement of goods across our national borders."

Currently, the export/import process can require businesses submit information to multiple agencies and fill out (both online and paper) forms each time. The process is seen as particularly burdensome to small businesses that don't typically have the resources to throw at dealing with regulatory compliance.

So if you've shied away from mounting any kind of broad export strategy because of a lack of resources or you're just leery of dealing with regulations, now could be the time to strike. Further, getting started in exporting if you haven't already might prove even more lucrative down the road.

Though the ITDS portal wouldn't come online until December of 2016, the initiative is also expected to ease imports, which could help shore up relations overseas. At a time when the U.S. is working on inking an international trade pact with the European Union called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a friendlier, less opaque process could serve as a step in the right direction.

Today's executive order marks the second presidential proclamation to come out of the White House since Obama's State of the Union address at the end of January. In that speech, he announced his plan to require federal contractors to pay employees at minimum $10.10 an hour, up from the current minimum wage of $7.25.

In the days leading up to the State of the Union, White House aides noted the president's willingness to use his "pen" and "phone" (a.k.a., presidential powers) to launch reforms--making future executive orders likely.

Last updated: Feb 19, 2014

DIANA RANSOM | Features Editor

Diana Ransom is features editor at Inc. She has been covering the never-dull world of small business and entrepreneurship for years at a variety of publications including The Wall Street Journal,, the New York Daily News, Fast Company magazine and Entrepreneur. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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