Op-Eds

Chabot: Small Businesses Need Trade Priorities and Accountability from Washington

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Washington, June 9, 2015 | comments

Chabot: Small Businesses Need Trade Priorities and Accountability 
from Washington

As seen in the Washington Examiner

Ninety-nine percent of American companies are actually small businesses, and they employ over half of the entire American workforce. When you stop and consider the fact that only two out of every 100 of those companies participate in international trade, it's obvious we're just not thinking big enough anymore.

The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act doesn't just help us think bigger, it compels to us to do so.

Trade today already supports about one in five American jobs. More than 1.5 million people in my state of Ohio have jobs because of trade. The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act gives further international trade agreements their rightful place at the top of our national agenda and lifts the ceiling on American job creation. Since about seven of every 10 new jobs come from a small business, it's pretty clear who can benefit the most from more trade.

I consider myself lucky to have been a member of the Small Business Committee, which I now chair, since I first came to Congress. Years of small business visits, roundtables and hearings have given me an invaluable education in how ideas become innovations and then jobs. Every member of Congress gets this opportunity, and I don't know anyone on either side of the aisle that hasn't been changed, energized and inspired by it.

That's why Congress should be setting the rules for any administration that sets out to negotiate with our trade partners. Small businesses need a better way into the global market, and Congress can make sure they get it.

Since we're the ones hearing directly from those who can benefit the most from trade, it would only make sense that we should be able to read the negotiating text for trade agreements, provide guidance for those negotiating for us in the executive branch, and get the chance to review trade deals before they become official. The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act paves the way for public engagement on these deals and gives Congress the ability to throw up speed bumps if we end up on the track to a raw deal.

The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act will require communication between the people negotiating trade deals and the people representing small businesses at home. Without it, we might as well be taking a shot in the dark and hoping for the best. That's not how jobs are created, families are provided for, or communities thrive.

Every small business starts with an idea. Those ideas become services or products, and then they become livelihoods for the people connected with them. Before long, those ideas are small businesses that not only support but also define our local communities.

Because of small business, it's our local communities, whether they realize it or not, that have the most to gain from better trade agreements. That's why your representatives in Congress have to be at the table from the outset, and that's why American small businesses need Congress to pass the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act.

Steve Chabot, who represents Ohio's first congressional district, is chairman of the House Committee on Small Business. 

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