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Second Report on Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises Shows Trade Benefits, Identifies Key Export Barriers

Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk said today that the new report from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) identifies top export barriers reported by U.S. small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and highlights the benefits of U.S. trade agreements to American small businesses. The report found that U.S. SMEs account for a smaller share of U.S. manufactured goods exports than SMEs in the European Union (EU), reflecting the relatively larger economic role of SMEs in the EU. Kirk requested this study from the ITC in 2009 to help guide our trade policy activities to boost American SME exports.

“America’s small businesses are engines for our economic growth. Small- and medium-sized businesses that export grow faster, add jobs faster, and pay higher wages than non-exporting firms,” said Ambassador Kirk. “This second ITC report provides us with a deeper understanding of the leading challenges that our U.S. SMEs face as they seek new global customers, and highlights the types of barriers that SMEs identified themselves as their biggest hurdles to exporting.”

This is the second of three reports that the USTR commissioned to inform and focus SME-related trade policy initiatives. It draws upon information gathered from three public hearings held in St. Louis, Portland, and Washington, DC, and testimony and comments from over 250 companies and organizations. The report compares the exporting activities of SME exporters in the U.S. and EU, describes the major barriers our SMEs face, SME strategies to overcome these barriers to trade, and identifies the benefits American SMEs reported from enhanced export opportunities stemming from U.S. participation in trade agreements.

Ambassador Kirk noted, “USTR’s continued mission is to create better trading opportunities for all American firms. We are ready to help our small- and medium-sized businesses take advantage of those opportunities and continue to provide jobs to Americans who need them.”

The third ITC report will examine U.S. SMEs engaged in providing services, and will identify how data gaps might be overcome to enhance our understanding of the role of SMEs in service sector exports. USTR expects to receive it by October 6, 2010.

The full text of the second report can be found at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4169.pdf.