Washington Report

Updates from the Capitol

Trade Agency Seeks Bigger Export Role for Small Business

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is seeking ways to expand opportunities for American small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to export their products and services.

In a letter sent this week to the chairman of  the U.S. International Trade Commission, Kirk requested that the commission develop three reports that describe the current state of SME participation in U.S. exports, analyze their performance in comparison to export activities of SMEs from other leading economies, and examine SMEs that provide trade-able services and identify any barriers that may disproportionately affect the ability of SMEs to export products or services.

USTR is sharpening its focus on small- and medium-sized American businesses to craft new trade policies and enforce existing ones in ways that will help these firms grow exports around the world and grow jobs here at home,” Kirk said. In addition, USTR plans to set priorities for new and existing trade agreements that are more responsive to those businesses’ needs.

Senate Small Business Committee chair Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) and ranking member Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) jointly praised Kirk’s efforts. “With more advocacy and better coordination among agencies, small businesses can create new and higher-paying jobs, lessen the trade deficit and make our nation better able to compete in the global marketplace,” said Landrieu. “In addition to these changes, I would like Ambassador Kirk to consider our request for an assistant USTR exclusively for small business. This will ensure that there is an advocate for small businesses in the room during trade negotiations.”

The two lawmakers plan to release in the coming weeks a bipartisan bill to increase small business trade opportunities.

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