Washington — A senior U.S. trade official has been talking with U.S. and European business people and officials about finding ways to make it easier for small and medium-sized companies to engage in foreign trade.
“The United States wants to ensure that our small and medium enterprises have the tools they need to compete in the trans-Atlantic marketplace and around the world,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro said in Rome July 12. She was speaking at a workshop organized by the Transatlantic Economic Council to help smaller companies sell their goods and services on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises collectively not only employ a majority of workers in the United States and the EU, but are also a critical source of innovative processes, products and services that are key engines of economic growth, job creation and competitiveness,” she said.
According to Sapiro, trade barriers affect smaller companies more than larger companies. In the manufacturing sector, for example, businesses with limited resources often find it difficult to meet foreign testing and certification requirements. In the services sector, smaller companies tend to suffer more from having their intellectual property stolen, while facing greater difficulty in establishing affiliates, she said.
The deputy trade representative cited compelling economic data that support the case for helping smaller businesses grow their foreign accounts. U.S. small businesses account for nearly 98 percent of all U.S. exporters, she said, and the value of their exports in 2010 was more than $380 billion, a 24 percent leap from the previous year. The small-business sector accounts for a third of all U.S. exports.
Sapiro went over the steps that the Obama administration has taken to spur small-business growth, such as tax cuts, reduction of paperwork, increased access to credit, and export assistance.
“These trends are positive, but I believe we can do better,” she said. “What can we do together to help small companies trying to overcome the challenges of selling abroad?”