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New Online Tool Highlights Tariff Benefits of Free Trade Agreements for American Small Businesses

April 27, 2011

Washington, DC – Today the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration and the Small Business Administration unveiled the online Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tariff Tool to more than 100 businesses and associations. It can be accessed through The FTA Tariff Tool supports the goals of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) that aims to double exports by the end of 2014 in support of several million U.S. jobs.

Exporters now have an online resource that streamlines tariff information for 85 percent of goods going to 20 markets with which the U.S. has negotiated trade agreements. This information has never before been available free of charge online in one searchable database. This new tool makes it easier for small businesses to grow and prosper through exports. The website also contains an instructional video, a quick start guide, and a user’s manual.

“Our trade agreements benefit small businesses by making it easier to export and sell American products to customers abroad,” said Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative. “Our trade agreements lower costs and risks for small businesses that seek to export by reducing and eliminating tariffs, reducing other barriers to trade, improving intellectual property protections, easing customs administration to get goods more quickly to market, and increasing the transparency of foreign countries' laws and regulations.”

U.S. trade agreements boost American competitiveness in foreign markets and improve the global business environment, helping U.S. companies and workers to compete. The FTA Tariff Tool will help more small businesses take advantage of these valuable export opportunities.

“Exporting creates an increased demand for products and services which in turn requires increased production, often leading to more American jobs. President Obama has made free trade agreements one of the pillars of his National Export Initiative, and his recent announcements regarding agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama expand the potential opportunities for U.S. exports to these trading partners as well,” said Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale, assistant secretary of commerce for manufacturing and services. “By making information on tariff benefits U.S. companies receive under these agreements more accessible, the FTA Tariff Tool will make it possible for more companies to increase their exports to these markets.”

“This new tool makes it even easier for small businesses to begin exporting,” said Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Marie Johns. “Many small business owners would benefit from exporting but might not have the time or resources to get started. Giving small business owners a simple way to navigate the complexities of tariffs and international trade is a crucial step in ensuring they have what they need to grow their business and create jobs.”

The new online tool combines tariff and trade data into a simple, easy-to-search public interface that allows small businesses and other U.S. exporters to find detailed information for the 17 U.S. trade agreement partners and three pending partners. The FTA Tariff Tool empowers the user to perform searches for tariff treatment for specific industrial products under each trade agreement instantly and at a glance. This will help small manufacturers with planning for entry into new export markets. The tool also enables the user to access market and sector reports and other FTA-related information that is useful for small businesses seeking new export opportunities.

The U.S. presently has trade agreements with 17 trading partners. In 2010, exports to these partners represented $522 billion of U.S. merchandise exports, up 23.1 percent from 2009. Manufactured goods represented 89 percent of the merchandise exports to these countries. The U.S. had a $21.1 billion trade surplus in manufactured goods with our FTA partners in 2010.