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Testimony of
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
Grant D. Aldonas

"How TPA Will Benefit Small Businesses"

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Small Business
Subcommittee on Tax, Finance, and Exports

July 24, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Pascrell, and Members of the Committee, for inviting me to testify before the Committee on Small Business. I look forward to establishing an effective working relationship with you and your staff. Secretary Evans asked me personally to convey his interest in your advice and counsel as we represent all sizes of U.S. businesses abroad. I understand that when Ambassador Zoellick testified before your committee he expressed interest in hosting, with Secretary Evans, a roundtable listening session with small businesses this fall. I would like to underscore our interest in doing so. Ambassador Zoellick also called for congressional recommendations for appointees from U.S. small businesses to the various ISACs, and we likewise would be interested in having your recommendations.

Our 25 million-plus small companies form the backbone of our economy. They create three of every four new jobs, generate more than half of the nation's gross domestic product, and account for nearly 97 percent of all U.S. exporters. Trade is essential to their future and to all they employ.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your holding this hearing to enable us to discuss the importance of our trade policy agenda to small businesses. It is often mistakenly assumed that our trade policy only benefits the large multinational companies when, in fact, small businesses hold an increasingly large stake in markets where we have trade liberalizing agreements.

I look forward to hearing the Committee's views on how we should shape the U.S. negotiating agenda to meet the needs of small businesses and farmers. To start that discussion, I would like to emphasize two points. First, I welcome the opportunity to discuss the importance of granting the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to our agenda for small business. Second, I would like to explain the important role that the Commerce Department plays as an advocate for our exporters and tell you about the "benchmarking" exercise that we are undertaking to ensure that we provide world-class export promotion services, particularly to U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses.

The Importance of Trade Promotion Authority to Small Business

Critics as diverse as Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan argue that trade only benefits larger multinational corporations. They assert that trade destroys American manufacturing and impoverishes American workers. They maintain that trade encourages a race to the bottom that would erode America's labor and environmental protections.

The truth is just the opposite. Over the last decade, while the United States was negotiating and implementing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Uruguay Round, the U.S. economy achieved the highest rate of sustained economic growth we have seen in a generation. During this period inflation and unemployment fell to their lowest sustained levels since the 1960's.

America's manufacturing sector maintained its share of GDP, holding steady at slightly over 17 percent between 1987 and 1999. Significantly, between 1992 and 2000, while NAFTA and the Uruguay Round were opening new markets for our exporters, the overall economy grew by 35.4 percent, but manufacturing output outpaced that growth, increasing by 54 percent. Productivity in manufacturing has grown at an average rate of 4.3 percent during the current business cycle, and it accelerated to a 5.3 percent pace in 1996-2000. Liberalized trade is a boon to the small U.S. manufacturers, which benefit from a greater supply of inputs at lower prices, enabling them to remain globally competitive.

Given that small firms comprise most of the U.S. service sector, I'd like to point out that global services trade was valued at $1.4 trillion in 1999. We estimate that some $296 billion in U.S. services exports supported 4.4 million jobs in 2000, up significantly from 1994 when $185.4 billion in services exports supported an estimated 3.4 million jobs.

Did trade hurt the American worker during the last decade? The U.S. economy created more than 20 million new jobs since the early 1990s. Since 1995, total U.S. private sector productivity has increased 3 percent a year and real wages are up. Exports supported some 12 million U.S. jobs this past year. Workers in jobs supported by these exports receive wages 13-18 percent higher than the national average.

Now, were big companies the only ones to profit from trade liberalization? Absolutely not. As I noted earlier, 97 percent of U.S. merchandise exporters are small- and medium-sized companies. Their exports accounted for $161.7 billion in 1998, or 29 percent of the total dollar value of our exports that we can trace back to specific companies. Companies with fewer than 20 employees made up two-thirds of all U.S. exporting firms in 1998.

Please bear in mind that these figures count only firms that export goods directly, and do not include suppliers whose inputs are exported in final products or services. While we do not have an exact count of such "indirect exporters," companies like CaseNewHolland, Inc., and Boeing have reported that their suppliers number in the hundreds. For example, one Case IH MX Magnum tractor has nearly 200 companies in 27 states, representing about 75,000 other jobs, all providing parts for a tractor that is exported from the CaseNewHolland plant in Racine, Wisconsin.

More importantly, lowering trade barriers abroad helps small business exporters, more than large companies in one fundamental way. Large companies benefit from economies of scale and have the resources either to export or to invest abroad on the other side of trade barriers erected by foreign governments. Small business generally only has the one option - to export.

What that means in practical terms is that, the more we lower trade barriers abroad, the more we benefit small businesses relative to their larger competitors for foreign markets.

A recent study by Robert Stern at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan underscores that point. Professor Stern estimates that a one-third reduction in global barriers to trade in agriculture, services, and manufacturing would yield $613 billion in world economic growth, the equivalent of an economy the size of Canada. Eliminating all trade barriers would boost global growth by $1.9 trillion, the equivalent of adding two Chinas.

Those are markets that would be open to our small businesses. And our small businesses are ready to take advantage of the markets we open for them.

Trade liberalization would help the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) achieve greater market access in international markets. Sixty-three percent of all SME exporters posted sales to only one foreign market in 1998. Canada and Mexico account for nearly one-third of total exports from SMEs. This is due to both proximity and to the benefits brought about by NAFTA. New free trade agreements would streamline and facilitate the export process, enabling SMEs to take full advantage of new markets and opportunities.

Let me give you a few examples of how our small exporters have taken advantage of NAFTA.

  • Die Tech Industries of Providence, RI, has increased its exports of die casting machinery to Mexico dramatically as a result of NAFTA. The company touts improved customs procedures under the NAFTA and increased competitiveness vis-a-vis its competitors in Mexico as the reason for their success.


  • Enviro Marine of Greenville, SC, is a small manufacturer of absorbent and bio-remediation devices used to prevent pollution. As a result of NAFTA, the company has successfully entered Canadian market and has located a distributor in two cities. The company plans to further increase its exports to Canada and other world markets. But before doing so, Enviro Marine - like many other companies - first determines the success of the bilateral trade relationship and the existence of trade agreements.


  • Sioux Steam Cleaner Corporation of Beresford, SD, exports industrial cleaning equipment duty-free to Canada and Mexico as a result of NAFTA. In 1999, the company expanded its operations by adding six new distributing locations in Canada and its first distributor in Mexico. In addition, as a result of NAFTA, three of Sioux Steam's U.S. distributors have been able to break into the Mexican market for the first time. Sioux Steam's management feels strongly that the elimination of duties under NAFTA has given the company an advantage over its competitors.


That said, a key element is missing. That is the renewal of the Trade Promotion Authority.

It is often stated that we do not need Trade Promotion Authority until an agreement is concluded and Congress has to vote on its implementation. What that argument ignores is the fundamental role that Congress was intended to play in setting our trade policies under the Constitution.

In fact, what Trade Promotion Authority really provides is a vehicle to ensure that the Congress and the President have agreed on our objectives and on how they will work together to achieve them. President Bush recently observed that, "Free trade agreements are being negotiated all over the world, and we're not party to them." There are more than 130 preferential trade agreements in the world today. The United States belongs to only two. The President's point is that we have to get off the sidelines and back into the game, and Trade Promotion Authority is essential to that effort.

That explains the "what" of Trade Promotion Authority, but it does not explain the "why." The "why" is that our inaction hurts American small businesses and the workers they employ as they find their goods and services shut out of markets by the many preferential trade and investment agreements negotiated by our trading partners. When the President laid out his international trade legislative agenda in May, he identified the specific trade negotiating objectives he intends to pursue in order to advance America's interests.

We must make the needs of small business a priority as we draft our negotiating objectives. While small businesses benefit significantly from the lowering of tariff barriers and other restraints, they also have the strongest interest in the elimination of the red tape that often hinders our exports. That's why small manufacturers are interested in achieving additional progress on the harmonization of standards and burdensome customs procedures. We and most other WTO members seek negotiations in trade facilitation - which helps to resolve customs procedures and related transparency issues - to benefit small business.

The Industry Sector Advisory Committee on Small and Minority Business for Trade Policy Matters (ISAC-14) provides us with advice on small business priorities on international trade agreements and for our workings within multilateral fora such as the OECD and APEC SME Working Parties. ISAC-14 is part of the Industry Consultations Program (ICP) that gives U.S. companies a voice in the trade policy making process, and includes many SME representatives. For example, ISAC-14 members recently met with the OECD Working Party on SMEs about mutual SME concerns, including the need for the OECD to focus on dispute resolution mechanisms suitable for SMEs. Also, in 1999, the ISAC played an important role in providing advice to Seattle WTO negotiators and securing SME-specific language in WTO documents.

Our SME private-sector trade advisors have expressed their strong support for TPA and believe that its passage will benefit small business interests, and we will continue to consult with them as we draft negotiating objectives. All of this points to why we need to pass TPA and get back in the game of opening new markets for our small businesses.

The Role of the Commerce Department as an Advocate for Small Business and the Work of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee

We are acutely aware of the fact that negotiating new agreements will only take us so far. We need to "fill in" behind the negotiations. For our economy to fully benefit from new market openings, we need to expand the base of exporters -- and that means increasing the number of small businesses that export.

That, in fact, is the strategic element that has been missing in our trade promotion efforts to date. Small businesses, in particular, need to get information, expertise, support and financing to do the deals. This requires the coordinated effort of all of the federal agencies involved in export promotion.

TPCC Benchmarking Exercise

Fortunately, we have the right management tool in place - the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), created by Congress in 1992, which is chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and is comprised of 19 agencies.

The TPCC works on behalf of small businesses by working to coordinate government export promotion programs so that small companies can access them more easily. The TPCC has streamlined financing for small business, which has resulted in a quadrupling of the value of exports supported by the working capital programs of the Export-Import Bank and SBA. Recently, the TPCC organized a series of seminars in Baltimore, Los Angeles and Chicago, during which officials from the Commerce Department, the United States Trade Representative, the Small Business Administration, and the Export-Import Bank provided information to small firms about business opportunities arising out of recent trade legislation.

We have a plan for taking the TPCC back to its roots as a management tool by undertaking a benchmarking exercise that will help us better serve our small business customers. Our goal is to ensure that we offer them world-class export promotion services.

Last week, Secretary Evans, as Chair of the TPCC, got the commitment of the heads of the member agencies to undertake this innovative review and established a timeline for its completion. We will assess our customers' expectations and their level of satisfaction. We also will compare our business processes to these in other government agencies and the private sector to determine whether we are making use of their best practices. We intend to produce an interim report to Congress at the end of September and provide a full report on March 30 of next year. This report will include recommended reforms of our programs and services.

It is more important than ever that our policy and promotion efforts on behalf of small businesses are coordinated and mutually reinforcing. Our goal is to provide the American people, and the small- and medium-sized exporters in particular, the most efficient, strategically-focused, well-coordinated and customer-driven programs possible.

With that, let me turn to the job that the International Trade Administration (ITA) at the Department of Commerce does to generate economic growth through small business.

ITA is a $334 million agency with over 2,430 employees and four main operating units: the Commercial Service (CS), Market Access and Compliance (MAC), Trade Development (TD), and Import Administration (IA) - all of which strive to help small- and medium-sized enterprises.

We estimate that almost 80 percent of ITA's resources go towards helping smaller companies compete and win in the global economy. Our array of programs and services, ranging from information to hands-on assistance, help SMEs through every stage of the export process.

Over the past few years, ITA has been making it easier for SMEs to use our services by delivering them through alternative channels, such as the Internet and e-mail, and by developing "virtual" programs that allow SME exporters to take advantage of our services without leaving their offices. These "virtual" programs include Virtual Trade Missions, Video Gold Keys, Video Market Briefings, our new export portal, export.gov, and our new electronic marketplace known as BuyUSA.com.

Additionally, Mr Chairman, I have brought with me copies of our new 2001 Export Programs Guide, which highlights our programs.

General Export Counseling and Assistance

As the first stop, we encourage SMEs to contact our Trade Information Center (TIC), for counseling via phone on its 1-800-USA-TRADE hotline. The TIC handles a variety of export questions ranging from "how to get started" to technical requirements in particular countries. The TIC also provides basic export counseling, information on all U.S. Government export assistance programs, and country and regional export counseling.

In FY 2000, the TIC handled more than 731,000 inquiries. Of these, TIC trade specialists responded personally to more than 85,400 inquiries, 87 percent of which were from SMEs. To meet the huge public demand for information, the TIC now has over 30 web-enabled databases.

Our Commercial Service is a worldwide network of 1800 employees who strive to help U.S. firms realize their export potential and emphasizes outreach to small- and medium-sized enterprises. We have Commercial Service officers posted in 160 locations in 85 countries abroad; they are our "eyes and ears" on the ground, providing information back to Commerce headquarters and our district offices.

Our 105 U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) throughout the nation have become the hubs in a hub-and-spoke network. The USEACs - which include federal, state, and local government partners (some locations combine the resources of the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Export-Import Bank) - offer export counseling, market research, trade events and international finance solutions to U.S. exporters. I strongly encourage you to send your constituents to the ones close to your districts.

During FY 2000, the Commercial Service's U.S. Export Assistance Centers counseled 17,855 U.S. companies in 44,156 counseling sessions and worked with a total client base of 88,100, nearly all of which were small- and medium-sized companies. The work the offices did with these companies resulted in 4,627 verifiable export sales worth $5.1 billion in export sales.

During the same period, the Commercial Service's overseas Posts recorded 4,628 verifiable sales totaling $16.2 billion as a result of the assistance they provided to U.S. companies. Seventy percent (3,237) of these verifiable sales were from small- and medium-sized clients, with an average sale per company of $1.2 million. The Commercial Service overseas officers also undertook 189,865 counseling sessions with U.S. companies and potential buyers.

We have a couple of initiatives to reach out to traditionally under-served communities. Our Rural Export Initiative (REI) seeks to increase the number of rural companies engaged in exporting by ensuring better access to export assistance programs and services (video conferencing services, virtual tradeshows and webcasting programs). The REI team counseled over 1500 rural companies and sponsored 75 trade events in FY 2000. Under the REI, we have developed the Native American Exporter Incubator Program (located in South Dakota, Washington, Arizona, and New Mexico). The goal of this program is to develop export markets for Native American Businesses while also training them in international business procedures and marketing.

Through our Global Diversity Initiative (GDI), we provide comprehensive training to minority- and women-owned firms to prepare them to sell their products/services internationally. We have provided "how-to-export" training to over 200 minority companies. Our GDI team counseled over 700 minority clients at 17 sites across the country last year.

Comprehensive Website

SME exporters should visit export.gov, a single, customer-focused website designed to help U.S. exporters quickly assess their needs and find all U.S. Government export-related information online. By providing all country, industry, and program information in one location, export.gov enables users to answer their questions quickly without having to understand the organizational structure of the U.S. Government. For example, a user can locate in-depth market research, check trade leads, find partners, look into export-financing programs, and peruse potential export opportunities in just a few clicks.

Industry-Specific Counseling and Assistance

ITA's industry specialists annually provide over 92,000 SMEs with assistance, in sectors ranging from basic manufacturing to high technology and service exports. Our specialists deliver information and analyses on industry-specific foreign market conditions and regulations, industry trends, business practices, and competitiveness by industry sector. They send time-sensitive trade leads and contact information to industry and are increasingly using videoconferencing for industry counseling.

Country-Specific Counseling and Assistance

SME exporters can receive country-specific counseling on commercial laws, regulations, distribution channels, opportunities and best prospects for U.S. companies in individual foreign markets, and import tariffs/taxes and customs procedures, among other topics by calling 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) or by visiting the USA Trade Information Center. Trade Information Center specialists provide counseling and assistance on Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, NAFTA, Africa, and the Near East (tradeinfo.doc.gov). The Business Information Service for the Newly Independent States (BISNIS) is the U.S. Government's clearinghouse for business information on the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union (www.bisnis.doc.gov). The Central and Eastern Europe Business Information Center (CEEBIC) is a business facilitation program for U.S. firms interested in expanding into Central and Eastern Europe (www.mac.doc.gov/eebic/ceebic).

Small business exporters traveling overseas also have access to services provided by Commercial Service Officers in U.S. Embassies and Consulates in more than 160 offices around the world. Commercial Service Officers provide information and assistance to U.S. firms.

Trade Contacts and Market Research Programs

Small businesses have benefitted from ITA's programs to identify overseas markets, clients, and partners. For example, the Gold Key Matching Service pairs U.S. firms with pre-screened international companies interested in becoming agents, distributors, sales representatives or strategic business partners. For those companies that desire longer-term, sustained assistance, ITA offers the Platinum Key Service, which provides comprehensive, customized market entry support. This customized service can assist companies to identify markets, launch projects, develop opportunities, reduce market access barriers, and address regulatory or technical standards matters.

Increasingly, ITA uses electronic technology to assist small companies with their exporting endeavors. Video technology provides U.S. companies face-to-face contact with potential international partners without the expense and time of foreign travel. Two different kinds of video opportunities are currently available: Video Market Briefings that offer SMEs a chance to ask questions and obtain specialized knowledge from overseas commercial officers located in their market of interest, and Video Gold Keys that give U.S. companies the opportunity to screen potential business partners via video conferencing.

ITA is currently working with IBM to establish an electronic "B2B" marketplace known as BuyUSA.com. BuyUSA.com is an online service that matches U.S. companies with potential buyers and business partners overseas. BuyUSA.com, which will be linked to export.gov, integrates the export counseling and lead-generation functions of the U.S. Commercial Service with an on-line export marketplace exclusively for U.S. businesses. For a fee, U.S. companies can create a product catalog and be automatically forwarded inquiries of interest from over 70 markets worldwide.

SMEs can also participate in an International Partner Search. Through this service, companies receive a report on up to five pre-screened overseas agents, distributors, manufacturers, representatives, joint venture partners, licensees, franchises, or strategic partners who have examined a U.S. company's materials and expressed an interest in the company's products, services, or licenses, or expressed an interest in otherwise partnering with the company.

For those companies that desire specific market research pertaining to their products or services, Flexible Market Research provides U.S. firms with individualized information on overseas markets. It answers such questions as the overall marketability of a product or service, market trends and size, customary distribution and promotion practices, market entry requirements, regulations, product standards and registration, key competitors, and potential agents, distributors, or strategic partners.

Making Contacts Through Trade Promotion Evens

In 2000, ITA carried out 80 trade missions and 500 other promotions including trade fairs, catalog events, and international buyer shows that assisted over 4,500 mostly smaller, U.S. businesses in new markets overseas. These events assist U.S. companies in making contacts, developing business relationships, and locating customers overseas. Trade events are an excellent way for companies to get international exposure and make valuable contacts.

Last summer, 15 U.S. technology companies participated in a Virtual Trade Mission to China, which was organized specifically to serve small business clients. This program, sponsored by BuyUSA.com, allowed SMEs to avoid the expense of physically traveling to the show in Beijing by displaying their products and services online. Approximately 4500 people viewed the booth, generating over 1000 trade leads. BuyUSA.com is currently planning additional virtual trade mission opportunities including the Paris Air Show, the aerospace world's foremost trading event, and a "U.S. Health Products Virtual Expo" in Korea.

Catalog exhibits are another way for U.S. companies to economically showcase in selected international markets without traveling. Through these exhibits ITA presents product literature to hundreds of interested business prospects abroad and sends the trade leads directly to U.S. participants.

Advocacy

The Advocacy Center marshals the resources of 19 U.S. Government agencies in the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee and U.S. officials stationed at our embassies and consulates abroad. The Center aims to ensure that when SMEs participate in international public-sector tenders they are treated fairly and their proposals are evaluated on technical and commercial merits. Since 1993, the Advocacy Center has helped over 140 SMEs win foreign government contracts worth over $3.7 billion. In addition, thousands of SMEs benefit indirectly from the Advocacy Center's services as suppliers or subcontractors to larger U.S. companies.

Market Access

Through MAC's Trade Compliance Center (TCC), small businesses - without need for costly legal and consulting advice - receive the full benefits of the trade agreements that this Administration has negotiated. The TCC is the one-stop-shop for U.S. businesses, small and large, to get directly the information and help they need to compete globally.

The TCC is also the Trade Complaint Center and features a hotline to enable small- and medium-sized exporters to instantly contact the Commerce Department to report on market access and trade agreements problems and to receive direct replies to their complaints. The TCC provides a "home page" geared towards small businesses (http://www.mac.doc.gov/Tcc/e-guides/sm_ex.html). TCC On-Line also features a fully searchable database of over 300 trade and related agreements and market access information on over 100 foreign markets published by the Commerce Department and other agencies.

Our expertise in market access barriers to U.S. exports allows us to offer specialized, in-depth support for firms with these problems. MAC's country specialists help U.S. firms by using their knowledge of foreign government practices and by marshaling the forces of other U.S. Government agencies to combat unfair trade practices. MAC also maintains special websites with information on countries and regions (e.g., China, Africa, NAFTA, Northern Ireland and the Border Counties, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the Newly Independent States, the Caribbean Basin).

Our goal is to solve problems at a practical level. If and when that is not possible, we work with USTR to build cases that can be litigated at the WTO or in other formal dispute fora.

In February, Secretary Evans invited each Member of Congress to designate one staff member to work with our Trade Compliance Center to refer constituent market access and compliance problems; if you aren't already working with us on this, I hope that you will.

Export Finance, Insurance, and Grants

Small businesses often find financing to be one of the biggest obstacles to exporting. To help exporters locate firms that finance sales to overseas buyers, ITA has launched the Export Finance Matchmaker, an interactive Internet service (trade.gov/td/efm/). ITA also sponsors Export Financing Workshops to educate SMEs about the value of innovative finance as a sales tool. In FY 2001, more than 200 companies have participated in Export Financing workshops across the country.

ITA also uses competitive matching grants to build public and private partnerships. This program, the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP), provides federal assistance to those state and local non-profit export multipliers that are particularly effective in reaching SMEs. MDCP awards help underwrite the start-up costs of new export marketing ventures that these groups would otherwise be reluctant to undertake.

Special Technical Assistance

ITA administers programs that provide SMEs with important technical information and assistance on a variety of specialized trade-related issues.

Our 301 Alert service e-mails early warnings to SMEs that register with us to help them react to potential increases in U.S. import duties in response to unfair trade practices. 301 Alert service is located at ita.doc.gov/301alert.

The Export Trade Certificate of Review Program allows SMEs to cooperate on exporting without U.S. antitrust implications. By cooperating with one another, SMEs can increase their export profits and access new export business at an accelerated rate. The Export Trade Certificate of Review Program allows SMEs to coordinate on export cost sharing, such as sharing costs of market research, promotion, financing, and transportation; establishing distribution networks; and operating overseas facilities. The program also allows SMEs to conduct joint export activities, such as setting export prices and filling large and complex export sales orders that they otherwise would never be able to do on their own. More than 5,000 U.S. firms are operating under the program's antitrust protection.

Unfair Trade Laws

Import Administration (IA), which administers the unfair trade laws, has staff specifically dedicated to assisting any business interested in exploring the possibility of filing an antidumping (AD) and/or countervailing duty (CVD) petition. Over one-half of the all cases brought before IA are by small- and medium-sized businesses. These companies normally do not have the resources to obtain representation and assistance from experienced trade counsel in petitioning the Department to initiate an investigation.

IA staff works extensively with small businesses on a regular basis to help them understand U.S. trade laws concerning dumping and unfair foreign government subsidies. IA staff will meet with prospective petitioners, either at the Commerce Department or, in some cases, on-site at the petitioner's production facilities, and will provide assistance to help bring a potential petition into compliance with statutory initiation standards. IA advises the petitioning industry throughout the investigation process in terms of procedural requirements.

IA works closely with small- and medium-sized producers in the agricultural sector, providing them with advice and guidance on trade remedy assistance. Some of the producers IA has assisted include those in the sectors of garlic, honey, mushrooms, grapes and tomatoes.

Recently, IA assisted a pro se (self-represented) company in filing a dumping petition on live cultivated blue mussels from Canada. IA conducted an informational session (hosted by the Congressional delegations of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama) as part of seminar for U.S. catfish producers concerned with rapidly increasing imports.

IA also monitors cases filed against U.S. exporters in order to assist these companies with the procedural and technical requirements that must be met when responding to foreign AD and CVD investigations,

Conclusion

Let me close by saying that, together, we have some tough work ahead of us. That is true of the work we have to do abroad in opening new markets to help SMEs achieve their export potential - while SMEs account for 97 percent of exporters, their share of U.S. merchandise exports hovers around 30 percent. This is also true of the work we have to do here at home in setting the stage for further trade liberalization by the renewal of trade promotion authority.

One of my top goals as the Under Secretary for International Trade is to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved living standards for all Americans. Helping small- and medium-sized companies export is key to this. To compete and succeed in a global arena, I believe that we must reach out to all communities and businesses to ensure that they are aware of the opportunities that are available to them. Last week, I traveled to Los Angeles to speak at a conference sponsored by the Minority Business Development Administration to underscore that point.

Thank you again for inviting me to testify. I welcome ideas about how we can continue to improve the workings of the International Trade Administration to reach out to a greater cross-section of small businesses. Just as we must continually push for trade liberalization so that we do not fall behind the competition, we must keep improving our institutions. I look forward to your questions and invite you to help us as we undergo our benchmarking exercise.

 

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