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Trade Deals Tear Down Barriers for American Small Businesses

March 10, 2015

Here’s a stat: 98 percent of American exporters are small- and medium-sized companies—and they represent 40 percent of the value of U.S. exporters.

It’s no secret that small businesses drive a healthy economy, but less understood is that they stand to gain enormously from breaking down barriers to trade with other nations. 

Of course, 96 percent of the world’s customers live outside the U.S. So selling more products abroad will help our small businesses create more opportunity at home.

And in many ways tearing down trade barriers helps small businesses the most. The tariffs, quotas, and red tape are harder for smaller producers to overcome than for bigger firms, which have large teams of lawyers and accountants to figure things out. These barriers mean American job creators get bogged down trying to fill out piles of paperwork, or their goods get held up in maddeningly slow customs procedures. 

Trade agreements tear down these barriers and open vast new markets for American job creators. And this isn’t just theoretical. For instance, last year the Associated Press reported on Stamford International, an exporter based in Connecticut:

Other trade pacts have encouraged companies to start exporting. [Stamford International’s] clients have jumped at the opportunities created by free trade agreements. Since a U.S.-Panama agreement went into effect in October 2012, they’ve exported to the Central American country after having previously avoided it.

But before we can close out good trade agreements, we have to pass trade promotion authority. TPA is, among other things, a negotiating tool to get better offers from our trading partners. As the LA Times noted today, it will help us get the best deal possible for American businesses—large and small. Once we pass TPA, other countries will put their best offers on the table. In other words, they’ll tear down even more barriers to American businesses and level the playing field even more.

In short, building a healthy economy means promoting American job creators—especially small businesses—at home and abroad.