In honor of World Trade Month, Members of the House Small Business Committee introduced legislation that will help American small businesses grow their company through participating in trade. Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), and Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade Chairman Scott Tipton (R-CO) have crafted legislation aimed at reducing some of the key barriers and obstacles faced by small business exporters.
The Export Coordination Act, sponsored by Graves, will establish stronger congressional oversight and coordination of the federal export promotion agencies. Currently, there are over 20 federal agencies that provide some, or all, of the steps in the export process, and many small businesses do not know where to go for the information relevant to their needs. The State Trade Coordination Act, sponsored by Chabot, would establish the framework to ensure that federal and state trade agencies work in unison to assist their local exporters. Chabot is also a Subcommittee Chairman for the House Foreign Relations Committee. The TRADE for Small Businesses and Jobs Act, sponsored by Tipton, would direct trade agencies to monitor and collect up-to-date information on changes to tariff and non-tariff laws, regulations, and practices; and display them in a clear and easy to read format. All three bills have been estimated by the CBO to have no cost.
“Although 95 percent of the world’s market for products exists outside the U.S., many small firms do not have the resources and personnel to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Graves. “Currently, only one percent of small businesses actually export – there is great untapped potential. Washington can do more to help increase the amount of small businesses that export by improving the coordination of the federal trade promotion agencies, all at no cost to the taxpayer.”
“More exports equal more jobs. And increased coordination and education will help more small businesses access the tools they need to export,” said Chabot. “Currently, there is no process in place that coordinates the resources of the states with the federal government. The State Trade Coordination Act will increase the cooperation of relevant support offices, resulting in more efficient delivery of services that can be utilized by more small businesses.”
“Small business plays an important role in our economy, and they should play a more important role in the U.S. Trade Strategy,” said Tipton. “Understanding foreign regulations is a key barrier for small exporters. Our federal agencies can help small businesses by explaining the changes in tariff and non-tariff barriers.”
Export Coordination Act of 2013 (HR 1909):
• Directs the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), through the National Export Strategy, to clearly outline the role of each agency in each part of the export process (Sec.3).
• Directs the TPCC to coordinate with member agencies to provide a detailed listing of current and future federal and state-led trade missions, trade fairs, and related activities (Sec.2).
• Creates stronger congressional oversight by directing the TPCC to review the proposed annual budget for each federal trade promotion agency and provide their recommendations based on their assessment. Those recommendations will be submitted to Congress, along with the strategic plan. In addition, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Commerce will prepare an annual report on the TPCC’s ability to carry out its duties. Both the TPCC report and IG report will be submitted to multiple committees of jurisdiction (Sec. 6).
State Trade Coordination Act of 2013:
• Requires the TPCC to include one or more representatives from the State Trade Agencies (SIDO, NGA, etc.). This position will be selected by the President (Sec.2).
• Directs the Secretary of Commerce to develop a comprehensive plan to integrate the resources and strategies of individual states into the overall federal trade promotion program (Sec. 3).
• Requires the Secretary of Commerce to develop annual federal-state strategies to ensure the federal government compliments each state’s individual economic and export strategy (Sec. 4).
• Establishes coordinated information sharing and reporting metrics (Sec. 5).
TRADE (Transparent Rules Allow Direct Exporting) for Small Businesses and Jobs Act:
• Helps small businesses increase their exports and enter new markets by helping companies better understanding foreign regulations (Sec. 2).
• Directs the pertinent trade agencies to monitor and collect up-to-date information on changes to tariff and non-tariff laws, regulations, and practices; and display them in a clear and easy to read format (Sec. 2).
• Provides a one-stop source to monitor changes in foreign regulations and trade barriers (Sec. 2).