House Hearing on Small Biz Trade Agenda

January 29, 2014

pic-export-shippingOn Tuesday, the Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, led by presiding Chairman Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) held a hearing titled, Small Business Trade Agenda: Status and Impact of International Agreements.

The committee heard from its sole witness James Sanford, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness, on the administration’s efforts to open new markets for small exporters and help create new jobs.

This hearing comes at an important time, as Congress  has a number of trade policy initiatives in the pipeline, including the possible renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and ongoing negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In his testimony, Sanford highlighted that USTR is pursuing a robust trade agenda that supports small businesses and broader economic growth by tearing down barriers and creating new overseas opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers of all sizes. He went on to say that they are working to level the playing field so that workers and businesses can compete and win in a global economy.

NSBA and SBEA have been urging for years—decades, even—that more must be done to emphasize the needs of small business within the scope of U.S. trade in order to enhance exporting opportunities for small U.S. companies. Finally, over the past few years, there has been an aggressive movement by the administration to increase exports and this has also been a contributing factor to the upward trend of growth in smaller and newer exporters than just three years ago. Sanford stated that USTR is collaborating with other agencies, including the Departments of Commerce and State and the Small Business Administration, to connect more U.S. small businesses to regional  partners and to foster entrepreneurship.

The most SBEA survey showed a jump – 63 percent in 2013 from 43 percent in 2010 – in business owners polled who said they would be interested in starting to export their products and services. Additionally, the report also showed that more small businesses are exporting today (64 percent) compared to (52 percent) three years ago.

During the hearing, Sanford stated that the USTR welcomed the introduction of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, as it is an important step towards Congress updating its important role in trade negotiations. This TPA legislation addresses many of the trade challenges facing the U.S. in the global marketplace, including: competition from state-owned enterprises; localization barriers to trade; and restrictions on cross-border data flows. NSBA and SBEA issued  a press release that can be found here and urged Congress and the administration to act swiftly to move the legislation forward with bipartisan support.

James Sanford’s full testimony can be found here.