On January 13, President Obama announced his reorganization plan for executive branch trade agencies. The President proposed to reorganize USTR, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and much of the Department of Commerce. The President’s proposal noted that the six agencies currently have overlapping responsibilities that create redundancies and inefficiencies.

Within hours of the President’s announcement, Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) of the House Ways and Means Committee and Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) of the Senate Finance Committee issued a joint statement expressing concern about the plan. In particular, they asserted that merging USTR into a larger agency would be detrimental. A number of business associations also have expressed concerns regarding the reorganization proposal.

On the other hand, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY and former Ways and Means Chairman) as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have supported the plan, citing the benefits for small businesses. The proposal also finds support from such sources as Clyde Prestowitz of the Economic Strategy Institute and Alison Acosta Fraser of the Heritage Foundation.