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Obama Looks to Exports, Hoping to Create Jobs

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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The International Monetary Fund has raised its prediction for world economic growth to four and six-tenths percent this year. That is a half-percentage point higher than the estimate in April.

The IMF credited expansion in Asia and growing demand in the United States. But the lender's chief economist also warned that "downside risks have risen sharply."

President Obama talked this week about the importance of building exports as a way to create jobs and economic growth at home.

BARACK OBAMA: "American exports grew almost seventeen percent over the first four months of this year, compared to the same period last year. Part of this, of course, is due to the global recovery. But we are also moving forward on improving conditions for America’s exporters."

Mr. Obama re-launched the President's Export Council. The group includes business and labor leaders who will advise on trade issues.

Last week the government reported that private employers added only eighty-three thousand jobs in June. Unemployment remains high even after six months of job growth. As the president points out, there are still five unemployed workers for each job opening.

Export-related jobs, he said, pay fifteen percent more than average. In two thousand eight, American exports supported almost seven percent of all jobs, including one-third of jobs in manufacturing.

In January, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama promised to double exports in five years. In his comments Wednesday, he said the United States must work to remove trade barriers and open new markets.

BARACK OBAMA: “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, if we want to find new markets and new opportunity, we have got to compete for those new customers, because other nations are competing for those new customers.”

He said the United States offers some of the world’s lowest barriers to trade -- and expects free and fair access to other countries in return.

In late June, the World Trade Organization ruled that Airbus received billions in illegal European aid. The ruling was a victory for its American competitor Boeing.

American lawmakers have also long complained that China suppresses the value of the yuan to lower the price of its exports. China recently promised to let the yuan trade more freely against the dollar.

China passed Germany to become the world’s top exporting country last year. The United States was third.

Some American companies have been doing well in developing markets. For the first time, General Motors has announced higher sales in China, the world's largest car market, than in the United States.

And that’s the VOA Special English Economics Report, by Mario Ritter with Kent Klein. I’m Steve Ember.