Underlining the importance of Asia's fast growing markets for American exports, President Barack Obama said that he will be pushing for billions of dollars in contracts during his trip to India where he reaches on Saturday.
"During my first visit to India, I will be joined by hundreds of American business leaders and their Indian counterparts to announce concrete progress toward our export goal — billions of dollars in contracts that will support tens of thousands of American jobs," Obama wrote in an op-ed piece published in The New York Times.
"We will also explore ways to reduce barriers to United States exports and increase access to the Indian market," he said.
Plagued by a flailing economy, high unemployment and mid-term elections that led to the Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives, Obama said he planned to double US exports to create more jobs.
"The more we export abroad, the more jobs we create in America. In fact, every USD 1 billion we export, supports more than 5,000 jobs at home," the president said.
"It is for this reason that I set a goal of doubling America ’s exports in the next five years. To do that, we need to find new customers in new markets for American-made goods. And some of the fastest-growing markets in the world are in Asia, where I'm travelling this week," he added.
Obama will spend three days in India before heading to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan before returning to Washington DC on November 14.
He will also attend two meetings — the Group of 20 industrialised nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
"It is hard to overstate the importance of Asia to our economic future," Obama said.
"Asia is home to three of the world's five largest economies, as well as a rapidly expanding middle class with rising incomes."
Obama pointed out that his administration had "deepened our engagement" with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN , which would be headed by Indonesia, next year, and for the first eight months of 2010, exports of American goods to ASEAN increased by 47% from the same period in 2009.
With South Korea, the president plans to "complete a trade pact that could be worth tens of billions of dollars" in increased exports and thousands of jobs for American workers.
Noting American businesses are losing opportunities to sell their products to Canada and European Union countries, Obama said, "We used to be the top exporter to South Korea; now we are in fourth place and have seen our share of Korea’s imports drop in half over the last decade.
"At the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Japan, Obama said he will seek new markets in Asia for American exports, and lay the groundwork for hosting the 2011 APEC meeting in Hawaii.
"We want to expand our trade relationships in the region, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to make sure that we're not ceding markets, exports and the jobs they support to other nations," he said.
In the op-ed, Obama cautioned against "looking inward" at the time of economic difficulty, and warned against shutting out markets of other countries.
"In our interconnected world, that is not a path to growth, and that is not a path to jobs," he said.
"We cannot be shut out of these markets. Our government, together with American businesses and workers, must take steps to promote and sell our goods and services abroad — particularly in Asia," he added.