The House Small Business Committee, led by Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), today held a hearing to examine the role of small business in the U.S. Trade Strategy and the challenges that lay ahead for small businesses who want to enter the trade marketplace. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) testified on the status of current trade negotiations and the overall strategy to open new markets for United States goods and services.
“Small business plays an important role in our economy, and they should play a more important role in the U.S. trade strategy,” said Chairman Graves. “Considering the changing trade landscape that includes the new free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, we need to explore ways to help small businesses participate. During World Trade Month, it is important that American small firms are not forgotten about and left behind in the nation’s overall trade strategy. In order to help small firms excel in the global marketplace, we need to strengthen the coordination of the federal export promotion agencies and implement an aggressive trade strategy to open new markets, while combating unfair trade practices. I hope the Ambassador will work with me to improve the system for small business owners.”
This hearing comes a week after Chairman Graves and Subcommittee Chairman Scott Tipton introduced legislation that will help small firms enter the trade marketplace by simplifying the maze of federal export promotion agencies. The Export Coordination Act of 2012 (H.R. 5393) will require the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee to better coordinate state and federal agencies to make the export process more efficient, while Rep. Tipton’s TRADE for Small Businesses and Jobs Act (H.R. 5513) will help companies better understand foreign regulations.
For related hearing documents, click here.
Notable Witness Quotes:
Thomas Crafton, President of the Thermcraft, Inc. in Winston Salem, NC said, “Small businesses tend to get lost in the process of trying to operate within the law and trying to ensure that every “T” is crossed and every “I” is dotted, instead of spending that time and money trying to increase export sales. The government wants small businesses to increase export sales but the system in place does not provide adequate assistance to get the job done. It is a constant struggle.”
Mark Luden, CEO of The Guitammer Company in Westerville, OH said, “With limited time and resources, small businesses tend to go with what is safe and proven. For many, the cost of understanding foreign compliance is too costly to absorb, and they simply do not have the resources to hire personnel dedicated to navigating the regulations. By simply creating an easily-accessible database of foreign regulations, the TRADE ACT will help provide small businesses with the confidence and knowledge they need to export to new markets.
“I commend Congress for its advocacy of free trade, and I urge you to seize every opportunity to open new markets and reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers. The future of the US economy – and that of America’s small businesses – depends on it.”
Robert B. Sinner, Partner and President of SB&B Foods in Inc., Casselton, ND said, “…small exporters face enormous competition and a web of regulatory constraints abroad. The export promotion programs are among the few tools that help American farmers promote U.S. commodities and remain competitive in the global marketplace. While the rapidly growing markets in the Asia Pacific region, led by China, are key drivers of U.S. soybean demand, there are significant barriers that we need to break down to meet increased demand for U.S. commodities in the region. We hope that the TPP free trade agreement is successful in making the regulatory systems of member countries more compatible so U.S. companies can operate more seamlessly in these markets, and help innovative, job-creating small- and medium-sized enterprises to participate more effectively in international trade.”