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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Ronald Kirk, United States Trade Representative

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Landrieu, Snowe, Schumer call for Small Business Trade Advocate

Request the U.S. Trade Representative to appoint an Assistant Trade Rep. to give small firms the necessary resources to help our economy.

United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., today wrote to United States Trade Representative Ronald Kirk asking him to add an Assistant U.S. Trade Representative to focus exclusively on small business trade issues as a way to help small businesses succeed and improve the overall economy.

"Increasing exports among small firms is good not only for small businesses but also for the economy and our nation," Sens. Landrieu, Snowe and Schumer said in the letter.

Foreign markets are an untapped resource for most small businesses. Currently less than 1 percent of the nation's 26 million small businesses are exporters, a percentage drastically lower than in some other developed nations, where as much as 15 percent of small businesses are exporters. If the percentage of small business exporters were to increase even by one percent, it would significantly reduce the trade deficit and, in some years, eliminate it completely, the senators said in the letter. Despite accounting for 97 percent of all exporters, small businesses account for only 29 percent of all U.S. exporting volume, a number lower today than it was ten years ago, indicating that exporting among small businesses is growing at a much slower rate than among large businesses.

"We believe that during trade negotiations, a small business expert in the highest realms of trade policy is necessary to ensure the needs and concerns of small businesses are addressed," the senators said. "A high-ranking advocate for small business is vital to removing trade barriers and ensuring that small businesses are given systematic consideration in trade policy."

Below is the full letter sent today:

March 24, 2009

The Honorable Ronald Kirk
United States Trade Representative
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Kirk:

Congratulations on becoming our nation's new United States Trade Representative. Given these tough economic times, we need a dedicated and qualified leader for this important role, and we believe your experience and background as Mayor of Dallas - particularly your work with small businesses - make you an excellent choice to fill this position. We urge you to continue working for small businesses and to create an Assistant United States Trade Representative for Small Business. This new position would have the vital role of working to remove trade barriers for small businesses and to ensure that they have full access to foreign markets.

Less than 1 percent of our nation's small businesses, 240,000 small firms, are involved in exporting. These 240,000 enterprises comprise 97 percent of all exporting firms in our country; however, they account for just 29 percent of all U.S. exporting volume. Unfortunately this number is slightly less than it was ten years ago, indicating that exporting among small businesses is growing at a much slower rate than among large businesses. Increasing the percentage of small business exporters would drastically reduce the trade deficit and, in some years, eliminate it completely. Increasing exports among small firms is good not only for small businesses but also for the economy and our nation.

When it comes to exporting and trade, clearly more can and must be done to help our nation's small businesses. While several federal agencies - including the Small Business Administration and the Department of Commerce - have offices that advocate for small business exporters, we believe that during trade negotiations, a small business expert in the highest realms of trade policy is necessary to ensure the needs and concerns of small businesses are addressed. A high-ranking advocate for small business is vital to removing trade barriers and ensuring that small businesses are given systematic consideration in trade policy. It is for this reason that we ask you to add an Assistant U.S. Trade Representative to focus exclusively on small business trade issues.

We were pleased that your response to the Finance Committee questions indicated your understanding of the importance of small businesses in U.S. trade policy. In particular, we were pleased to see that you would give strong consideration to an Assistant United States Trade Representative for Small Business. We applaud your interest in helping small businesses and look forward to working closely with you to address their needs.

Thank you for your attention to this timely matter. If you have any questions on this or other small business trade issues, please have your staff contact Karen Radermacher with Senator Landrieu's staff at (202) 224-5175, Jake Triolo with Senator Snowe's staff at (202) 224-7884, or Jeff Hamond with Senator Schumer's staff at (202) 224-6542. We wish you all the best in your new position and look forward to working with you on behalf of America's small businesses.

Sincerely,

Mary L. Landrieu Olympia J. Snowe
Chair Ranking Member

Charles E. Schumer


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