This week marks National Small Business Week, so we should ask ourselves: How can we help America’s small businesses grow and thrive in the 21st-century economy?
The answer is to open up new markets and help them compete for new customers around the world. Andhow do we do that? By passing trade promotion authority (TPA).
With 96 percent of the world’s customers living outside the United States, we need policies that help our small businesses sell more of their products overseas. Indeed, more and more small businesses are looking abroad for new customers. Bloomberg recently reported, “Since the recession, small businesses have increasingly sought customers overseas. In 2006 small and midsize exporters accounted for 28.9 percent of sales by U.S. companies abroad; in 2013 that figure was 33.6 percent.”
The problem for many small businesses is that it’s just too costly to do business outside our borders. That’s why passing trade promotion authority is so important. TPA allows for trade agreements that will break down burdensome trade barriers for small-business exporters. As the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council put it, “Good old common sense tells us that reducing the costs of reaching 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside the United States is a tangible and needed advantage for U.S. small businesses and their workforce.”
They’re not alone. Nearly 300 local groups across the country representing area businesses and workers have come out in support of TPA. It makes sense because 98 percent of American exporters are small- and medium-sized companies—and they represent 40 percent of the value of U.S. exporters.
Representative Robert Dold (R-IL), a small-business owner and new member of the Ways and Means Committee, described what is at stake for our economy in a recent op-ed: “With dozens of new countries opened to trade for U.S. exporters, small businesses across the country would be better equipped to take advantage of the global market. At a time when we are all looking to strengthen our economy and promote economic growth, these agreements would create billions of dollars’ worth of exports and lead to the creation of jobs in communities across our country.”
By tearing down tariffs and other trade barriers, free trade levels the playing field for American small businesses.