Export promotion by U.S. government could be improved, SBEA tells Congress

More small businesses could be increasing their sales through exports, and the U.S. could be lowering its trade deficit, with better coordination of the government’s export promotion efforts, the Small Business Exporters Association of the U.S. recently told Congress.

SBEA testified before a panel of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on April 24.

SBEA President Jim Morrison reminded the panel of the “good news / bad news” about small business exporting. “Over 240,000 small businesses in the U.S. are exporting, and they’re selling more than $450 billion worth of American goods and services,” Morrison noted, “which is a scale of small business exporting that relatively few Americans are aware of. Indeed, 97% of all U.S. exporters are small. And over 80% of all U.S. exporters have five employees or fewer.”

“The bad news is that these statistics are a fraction of what they could be. With more than 26 million small businesses in America, the number of small business exporters still represents only about 1% of all small businesses. Our competitor nations are doing a much better job of getting their small companies to export. Most of them are getting five to ten times as many of their small businesses to export.”

SBEA urged Congress to improve the percentage of U.S. small business exporters by focusing on the major issues that exporters face – like transaction costs and fear factors – and by improving export promotion coordination among the 20+ federal agencies that play a role in international trade. This coordination is currently managed by a small office deep in the Commerce Department, which is supposed to be telling its own boss, the Secretary of Commerce, as well as other Cabinet officers and agency heads, what to do.

Morrison suggested that the coordination be done by an office in the White House, in conjunction with the White House Office of Management and Budget, which establishes agency budgets.

To read the full text of SBEA’s testimony, Click Here.

A bill to improve the coordination of federal export promotion has recently been introduced by Representatives Don Manzullo (R-IL) and John Mica (R-FL). To read the full text of this bill, please Click Here.