Washington is preparing to counter the forthcoming rise in its trade deficit with Asia by injecting more funds into subsidising its exports, according to Commerce Secretary William Daley. Mr Daley said that given Asia's economic downturn, he would ask President Bill Clinton for the go-ahead to find new ways of providing export financing for United States companies. 'We need to support our exporters around the world, especially at this time in Asia,' he said at the Asia Society in New York yesterday. 'I am suggesting to the president that we need to develop additional export financing initiatives that will mitigate the severe credit constraints on importers of US goods and services, building on efforts already undertaken by the US Export-Import Bank.' The secretary said he would be calling a meeting of an interagency group in the administration - the Trade Promotion Co-ordinating Committee - to look at ways of expanding aid to boost US exports. He did not specify what measures he had in mind. Apart from providing more funding to the Export-Import Bank, other options involve expanding the workload of government bodies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corp, which underwrite export deals. Mr Daley predicted a 'substantial' rise in the US trade deficit by the end of this year as Asian economies contract and export cheaper goods to the US. He warned of a political backlash in Washington if Asian nations tried to boost their exports to his country while erecting barriers to protect their own fragile markets. He pointed out that the deficit stood at only 1 per cent of gross domestic product - much less than the 1988 figure of 3 per cent when trade disputes with Japan were at their height. If the 3 per cent mark began to loom again, Mr Daley said there would be cause for serious concern. Japan's Government came under fierce attack from Mr Daley for its 'remarkably little sense of urgency' in stimulating its own growth to help resolve its neighbours' problems. 'To date, its actions have fallen well short of what we and most everyone else feel are necessary,' he said. 'It's not the leadership you would hope or expect from the world's second-largest economy. 'There is not enough realisation of the negative impact they're having on the rest of Asia. The message thus far from Japan is discouraging.'