Democrats Call for Coordinated Effort to Promote Small Business Exports

Jun 21, 2017

Washington, DC— As the Administration undertakes steps to renegotiate major trade agreements like NAFTA, House Democrats today stressed the importance of empowering small businesses to export their products abroad. At a hearing before the House Small Business Committee, lawmakers heard about a range of issues facing entrepreneurs seeking to expand into new markets. In particular, the hearing focused on the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which was created in 1992 as an effort to coordinate government initiatives aimed at fostering export growth.

“To continue growing our economy, we must expand small firms’ participation in global commerce,” said Ranking Member Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). “With so many fragmented federal resources available to help small businesses get a foot in the door and start exporting, it’s our duty to make sure these efforts are coordinated, running smoothly and accessible to entrepreneurs.”

As a staple of the American economy, small firms have a huge influence on trade, making up nearly ninety-eight percent of all U.S. exporting companies.  However, largely due to a lack of support, only one-percent of small businesses in the United States are currently exporting their goods overseas.  For many small business owners, the prospect of exporting their goods outside the U.S. has vast potential but is often daunting. Currently, 300,000 small businesses do so, while 3 in 5 non-exporting small firms have expressed an interest. Additionally, nearly forty percent of small businesses owners expressed an interest in exporting their products but say they simply do not know where to begin.

With trade promotion initiatives spread across twenty different federal agencies including the Export-Import Bank and the Department of Commerce, Members of Congress noted how difficult it can be for small companies to navigate resources available to them. Committee Democrats specifically emphasized the importance of prioritizing services for small businesses. 

As Associate Administrator in the Office of International Trader at the Small Business Administration (SBA), Peter Cazamias spoke to SBA’s efforts to support small business exports.

“This moment presents a favorable opportunity for collaboration,” said Mr. Cazamias. “Not only among the agencies comprising the TPCC Small Business Working Group but also with SIDO, state trade agencies, SBDCs, and other SBA resource partners. I feel we all recognize that U.S. small businesses are the engine for our economy, and that anything we can do to help them achieve global market success will make our nation stronger and more prosperous.”

In the wake of uncertain trade policies, Democrats stressed not only the importance of promoting resources to help small business export,  but also encouraging trade policies that are conductive to small business.

“While trade agreements hold potential to open up new markets, they also encourage cheap imports which can be harmful to small firms,” said Velázquez. “As our trade agreements are revisited, the Committee should keep a close eye on how any changes might potentially affect small companies.”