U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Chair Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) last night introduced two bipartisan measures to strengthen and improve support for American entrepreneurs seeking opportunities to expand their business, create new jobs and compete in the international market. The Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act (S. 2862) and the Small Business Trade Representation Act (S. 2861)will ensure small businesses have access to the resources and tools needed to explore new export opportunities in emerging markets or expand their current export business.
"Small businesses face particular challenges in exporting, and the bills that Chair Landrieu and I have introduced will take great strides toward ensuring their greater participation in international trade," said Ranking Member Snowe. "By improving and bolstering critical Small Business Administration (SBA) lending and assistance programs, we will be giving our nation's entrepreneurs a helping hand in surviving, diversifying, and competing effectively in the international marketplace. Additionally, the Small Business Trade Representation Act would once and for all establish an Assistant United States Trade Representative for Small Business, a critical position that will help ensure American small businesses are at the forefront of trade policy considerations."
"Building upon legislation that I have introduced in the last three Congresses, including, S. 1196 the Small Business International Trade Enhancements Act of 2009 that I introduced in June of this year, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that small businesses seeking to export their goods and services will have access to the resources they need to successfully expand into foreign markets," Chair Landrieu said. "With health premiums increasing more each year and cash registers at home not ringing like they used to, exporting has become a practical solution for small firms. Expanding opportunities for small business trade is not only vital to the financial security of our entrepreneurs, it is vital to the recovery of our economy."
The Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act contains several crucial provisions, including ones to:
* Establish an SBA Associate Administrator for International Trade to carry out the Agency's international trade programs and formulate its trade and export policy;
* Bolster the number of SBA export finance specialists assigned to Export Assistance Centers;
* Raise, from $2 million to $5 million, the maximum amount of an International Trade Loan or Export Working Capital Program loan;
* Establish in statute an Export Express program and expand the maximum loan size from $250,000 to $500,000; and
* Create a State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program to increase the number of small businesses that export and increase the value of the exports by small businesses.
Additionally, the Small Business Trade Representation Act would create an Assistant United States Trade Representative for Small Business whose responsibility would be to ensure that small businesses are represented in trade negotiations and in U.S. trade policy.
The provisions in these bills come from both S. 1208, the Small Business Export Opportunity Development Act, introduced by Senator Snowe, and S. 1196, the Small Business International Trade Enhancements Act of 2009, introduced by Senator Landrieu.
Senator Snowe's bill introduction statement on S. 2862 can be viewed by clicking here, and on S. 2861 here. Senator Landrieu's statement on both bills is available here.