International trade is a critical component for the long-term growth and viability of small businesses and the U.S. economy overall. In 2012, total U.S. exports reached $2.2 trillion, which is nearly 14 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Those exports helped support nearly 10 million jobs, including about 4 million small business jobs.
Exporting provides small businesses with the opportunity to reach new markets, increase revenue, and ultimately create needed jobs. Although 95 percent of the business purchasing market exists outside the U.S., many small firms do not have the resources and personnel to utilize these opportunities, and rely heavily on negotiated free trade agreements to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers for their product or service.
After nearly five years, Congress and the President finally passed the free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea in 2011. These trade agreements will provide more market access for small business exporters and help create much needed jobs in the United States. Moreover, the Administration is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which has the potential to create more market access opportunities for small businesses looking to enter the rapid growing Pacific region. However, small businesses cannot wait another five years for another trade agreement; we must develop an aggressive trade strategy to open markets and make the trade process easier.
The benefits of exporting are clear. The Committee is focused on opening new markets, ensuring fair trade, and making the overall trade process easier for small businesses. With the United States’ economy struggling to recover, Congress should be doing everything within its power to create an environment for small businesses to prosper, expand and create jobs.