By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access, and Industrial Competitiveness
This month, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) are teaming up to convene a nationwide series of roundtables to hear directly from small businesses around the country about specific concerns and trade barriers they face in exporting to the European Union (EU)as well as their suggestions for reducing these barriers and increasing cooperation with the EU to help small businesses benefit further from new trade and investment opportunities. This major outreach effort to small businesses will help inform a USITC study commissioned by USTR to identify trade barriers in the EU that may disproportionately impact small and medium firms, and help ensure that the United States takes into full account the priorities of small businesses in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations.
The T-TIP, launched in July in Washington, D.C. by the United States and the EU, hold great potential to promote the global competitiveness of U.S. small and medium enterprises and boost their export sales to the EU. Small and medium companies in both the United States and the EU employ the majority of workers and are the primary engines of economic growth and job creation. Therefore, enhancing their participation in transatlantic trade is a key objective of the negotiations. Trade agreements can particularly help smaller firms by tackling tariff barriers, burdensome customs procedures, discriminatory or arbitrary standards, and lack of transparency relating to relevant regulations in foreign markets, which can be especially costly to small companies with fewer resources relative to large firms.
The roundtables will be held in 20 cities nationwide between September 9 and September 27. Additionally, public hearings will be held in San Jose, California on September 26 and Washington, D.C. on October 8. Small business exporters can find out more on how to participate in a roundtable, the public hearings, or submit written comments at http://www.usitc.gov/332_541_Trade_Barriers.htm . The USITC study will be completed and made public in early 2014.