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On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk delivered keynote remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National District Export Council’s workshop on “Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers.” Small and medium-size business owners and members of the National District Export Council were on hand for Ambassador Kirk’s remarks and for the subsequent workshop activities.
In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk explained how the efforts of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to remove trade barriers can assist small businesses by eliminating tariffs, improving intellectual property rights protection, and easing customs administration to get products to market more quickly. He touched on the Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA), a promising new small business initiative rolled out by the Obama Administration in April 2012. The SBNA will expand the pool of available resources for small business development, enhance access to business counseling services for entrepreneurs, and foster small business growth by providing a framework to connect businesses across the Western Hemisphere. USTR and our partner agencies will play an important role in this new initiative by connecting Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in the United States with their counterparts in foreign countries, who have leads on export and business opportunities.
Ambassador Kirk addresses participants at the "Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers" Workshop hosted by the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National District Export Council
Ambassador Kirk pointed to the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Economic Council Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Workshops as a developing forum for government engagement with small business stakeholders. USTR, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Commerce (DOC), in coordination with our EU partners, launched the workshops in 2011 in an effort to identify trade barriers facing small businesses, share best practices, and increase U.S.-EU cooperation in small business trade promotion.
The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), Ambassador Kirk said, is another key element of the Administration's focus on removing barriers to small business exports. The ITEC, created by executive order of President Obama, is charged with monitoring our trade partners to ensure that they abide by their obligations. Most small businesses don’t have the time or resources to fight unfair trade practices on their own, and the ITEC’s comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach will enhance the United States’ ability to investigate and pursue enforcement cases critical to the needs of U.S. workers and companies of all sizes.
Ambassador Kirk wasn’t the only representative from USTR to participate in the workshop; USTR staff participated in panels and roundtables on non-tariff barriers, company success stories, intellectual property rights (IPR), trade facilitation and customs, government procurement, and standards and regulatory cooperation.