WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday announced the elevation of the Small Business Administration to a cabinet-level agency.

The White House announced the decision as part of a broader effort to consolidate six agencies, including the SBA, that focus on business and trade.

The consolidation effort would require congressional approval, but the president was able to elevate the SBA to cabinet-level status on his own.

During remarks at the White House, Obama said that SBA administrator Karen Mills will begin attending Cabinet meetings.

The president said the consolidation effort is aimed at helping U.S. small businesses, particularly those that export products.

"Over the past year, we spoke with folks across the government and across the country. And most importantly, we spoke with businesses, including hundreds of small businesses, to hear what works and what doesn't when you deal with the government," Obama said.

"And, frankly, in those conversations we found some unsatisfied customers. A lot of times what we heard was, 'You know what, the individual who I'm working with was really helpful to me, but the process itself is too confusing.'"

In addition to the SBA, the other agencies and functions that the president hopes to consolidate are the core business and trade functions of the Commerce Department, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

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