In a move that could boost exports through the Port of Baltimore and help local businesses develop overseas markets, the federal government has selected Baltimore as one of four cities in which to set up offices to consolidate information about exporting.
Dubbed a "one-stop shop for exports," the office, set to open in January, is being established in response to congressional legislation calling for a more streamlined and effective governmentwide export-promotion program.
Daniel McLaughlin, an acting deputy secretary in the Commerce Department, called the streamlining a "radical approach for the federal government."
The process, he said, has precipitated "a lot of turf battles." It has not been announced how the office will be structured or how many employees will be in each office. A report outlining details is due to be released Sept. 30. In addition to Baltimore, offices will be opened in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Now, information about financing and promotion of exports is provided by a patchwork of 19 federal agencies, from the Commerce Department to the Small Business Administration. A 1991 report by the General Accounting Office questioned whether the $27 billion a year spent on export financing and promotion was being channeled effectively.
"The U.S. has lagged behind other major industrial powers on this subject," Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland told businesspeople attending a meeting yesterday of the Baltimore Export Development Advisory Council at the World Trade Center.
"As we compete globally, export promotion is becoming more and more important," he said.
Officials of the Maryland Port Administration hope the new office will boost an already growing export business at the port of Baltimore. And city officials said yesterday that it could help local businesses.
"It will help those already exporting and small manufacturers here who are thinking about exporting but are overwhelmed by it," said Lee Tawney, director of the mayor's office on international programs. "This will give us a competitive edge."
No site has been selected for the new office in Baltimore. Federal officials are looking at the World Trade Center, site of the MPA, which operates the state's five public terminals.