Creating More Export Opportunities for American Small Businesses

As President Obama has proclaimed this week to be World Trade Week, I would like to take this opportunity to especially encourage small businesses across the country to consider the advantages of exporting to one of our trade agreement country partners.  Over a quarter million American small businesses from every state sell goods and services to foreign customers around the globe, and these export sales sustain millions of well-paying American jobs. 

In fact, the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that both direct and indirect exports by small firms which supply inputs or services to larger companies supported four million jobs in the United States in 2007.  That is why President Obama launched the National Export Initiative, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports and supporting millions of additional U.S. jobs by the end of 2014.

Most U.S. small businesses which export begin by selling to our neighboring partners, Canada and Mexico.  However, the United States has negotiated trade agreements with a total of 17 countries.  It can be easier, cheaper, and faster for businesses to sell globally in partner countries due to the reduced tariffs at the border.

To help even more small companies the Administration recently launched a new free online tariff tool.  U.S. exporters now have an online resource that streamlines tariff information for goods going to 20 foreign markets with which the U.S. has negotiated trade agreements.  This information has never before been available free of charge in one searchable database.  This new tool makes it easier for small businesses to grow and prosper through exports.

We are moving forward with a robust trade agenda to create even more opportunities for small businesses to thrive in the global economy.  For instance, the pending U.S.-South Korea trade agreement presents significant new export opportunities for small businesses.  South Korea is the eighth largest market worldwide for American small business goods exports.  In 2009, almost 18,000 U.S. small and medium companies exported $8.4 billion in merchandise to South Korea.

As part of my small business outreach around the country, I recently met the CEO of Princeton Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia.  Princeton Healthcare is a small business exporter of medical technology products such as electrocardiographs and anesthesia machines to hospitals.  They currently employ 10 workers.  Princeton Healthcare has exported to South Korea in the past, and is looking for additional opportunities in the South Korean market.

The trade agreement will help Princeton Healthcare better compete in a competitive technologies and services market.  By opening up South Korea’s $580 billion services market, Princeton Healthcare can better connect U.S. manufacturers with customers in South Korea.

This year the President and I hope that thousands more small businesses will take advantage of trade agreements, and join the Obama Administration in the work of the National Export Initiative.

Ambassador Ron Kirk is the United States Trade Representative.

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