Testimony by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro
Before the House Committee on Small Business
May 16, 2012
*As Prepared for Delivery"
“Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Velazquez and Members of the Committee, thank you for convening this hearing and the opportunity to testify today on our efforts to expand exports by U.S. small businesses, thereby supporting greater economic growth and jobs throughout the country.
“Despite a fragile global economy, the growth of U.S. exports over the last year has been a bright spot. Our exports of goods and services have surpassed their pre-crisis peak and we are making good progress towards meeting President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014. During the past 12 months, the United States exported more than $2 trillion in goods and services, the highest level of exports in any 12-month period in U.S. history. As our economic recovery continues, we have added private sector jobs for 26 straight months, for a total of 4.25 million jobs over this period.
“As the President has emphasized, America’s small businesses are key engines of our nation’s economic growth and job creation. They are a critical source of innovative processes, products and services. I speak as someone who started and ran a small business before re-entering government and experienced first-hand the challenges, risks and opportunities involved.
“America’s smaller firms are already playing a major role in international trade – accounting for nearly 98 percent of all U.S. exporters. Direct and indirect exports by U.S. small businesses support about four million American jobs and account for an estimated 40 percent of the total value of our goods and services exports.
“These trends are positive, but we believe that our small companies still have significant room for export growth. Only a small fraction of them currently export. And of those, most tend to do business in only one market overseas. With 95 percent of the world’s customers living beyond our borders, we can – and must – do better.
A Robust Trade Agenda Benefits SMEs
“We are pursuing a robust trade policy that supports small businesses and broad economic growth by tearing down barriers to trade and creating new opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers. We are also vigorously enforcing our trade rights, insisting that countries fulfill their commitments and act according to the rules to which they have agreed.
“Our free trade agreements (FTAs) with nearly 20 countries open doors for valuable export opportunities for small businesses. With this Committee’s strong support, Congress approved FTAs with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama last October. Just yesterday, the United States-Colombia Agreement entered into force. This makes it easier and less expensive for our small businesses – like the meat packers and dairy farmers in your district, Mr. Chairman – to export their products to this important Latin American market.
“And this week we are concluding the 12th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Relevant to this Committee is our focus on developing specific provisions to help small businesses participate more actively in TPP regional trade, including through information sharing. Our commitment builds upon the joint APEC Trade-SME Ministers Meeting Ambassador Kirk held last year in Big Sky.
“We are also helping small businesses by opening Russia’s market of 145 million customers. Russia’s WTO membership will create new export opportunities and bind Moscow to a clear set of international rules governing trade and transparency. However, for U.S. companies to enjoy the benefit of Russia’s WTO membership this summer, Congress will have to act quickly to terminate application of the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment to Russia. We hope this Committee will strongly support Chairman Camp’s efforts to do just that.
“In the Western Hemisphere, we are collaborating with other agencies to connect more of our small businesses to regional partners and foster entrepreneurship. The Small Business Network of the Americas, announced by President Obama last month, will help SBA-supported U.S. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) link firms to counterparts in Central and Latin America.
“As we continue to strengthen the international rules-based trading system and hold our trading partners accountable, we are also enhancing our trade enforcement capabilities. The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) recently established by the President will increase our capacity to prioritize and aggressively challenge unfair trade practices brought to our attention by smaller companies.
“Ambassador Kirk and the entire USTR team continue to reach out to small businesses across the country to highlight not only export opportunities we have created, but to hear more about exisiting trade challenges. As a result, last year we helped launch the FTA Tariff Tool, a free online way for smaller firms to do market research and look up specific tariffs.
“In conclusion, we are proud of our small businesses that offer high-quality, “Made in America” products and services to customers around the world. We are determined to see that they have the trade policy tools they need to compete and succeed in the global economy. We look forward to working with you to accomplish that goal.