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Opinion Editorial - LinkedIn - "Driving Exports Is Key to Growing Small Businesses and the American Economy"

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OPINION EDITORIAL
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
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Commercee Secretary Penny Pritzker
Opinion Editorial, LinkedIn
"Driving Exports Is Key to Growing Small Businesses and the American Economy"

The role of the Department of Commerce is to help set the conditions for U.S. businesses to succeed, grow, and create jobs. Whether that is by providing data that drives a firm’s decision-making process, or granting a patent that helps turn an idea into a company, it is our job to ensure American businesses have the opportunity to thrive.

Make no mistake, both small and large businesses around this country have led the way to our economic recovery. The private sector has created 7.8 million jobs since March 2010, including 1.9 million jobs just this year alone. Small firms represent more than 99 percent of all businesses, and have contributed to that success. However, there is more the Obama Administration and the Commerce Department can do to ensure that small businesses in particular are positioned to take the lead in the global economy.

One of the ways the Commerce Department can give America’s small businesses a competitive edge is by supporting their efforts to export their goods to new markets. The reality is that global trade is driving our economic growth, having increased more than 40 percent over the last four years. Exports hit a record $2.2 trillion in 2012, and nearly 10 million U.S. jobs are now supported by exports, up 1.3 million since 2009. A record 14 percent of GDP was driven by exports last year. As such boosting trade and investment is a key part of our department’s recently unveiled “Open for Business Agenda.”

Small businesses are already selling their goods and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside of the U.S. In 2011 (the latest year for which data on small and medium-sized enterprises is available), nearly 98 percent – or 295,594 – of the U.S. companies that exported were small-or-medium sized businesses.

But the fact is, we can do more to help them enter new markets. Over the past decade, small businesses’ contributions to U.S. exports have grown from one-fourth to one-third, but we must continue to broaden that base. One of my top priorities as Secretary of Commerce is to help businesses take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that exist in global markets.

The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) has a variety of services available for SMEs that are interested in starting to export or in growing their presence in international markets. The Commercial Service, ITA’s trade promotion arm, works in more than 70 countries to connect U.S. businesses with buyers overseas. These services have helped thousands of companies boost their exports and create good jobs in the United States. In 2012, 5,200 American companies working with the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service – including more than 4,000 SMEs – were able to export for the first time or increase their exports by selling to new markets.

Beyond supporting America's exporters, as our country's Chief Commercial Advocate, I will do everything I can to create more opportunities for American goods and services to enter new markets. One of the things I hear frequently from America's business leaders is that we need more free trade agreements so that companies can take advantage of the growing global consumer base.

The CEO of Liquid Planet, a coffeehouse, bakery and beverage market in Missoula, Montana made this point recently. Since the company was founded 2003, it has grown to more than 40 employees, expanded its sales annually, and started exporting during its second year of operation. In 10 years, the company has launched more than 100 products, which are distributed around the United States and globally.

Companies like Liquid Planet are excited about the opportunities that will be created upon completion of a high-standard Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Department of Commerce is working with the United States Trade Representative to bring that agreement to conclusion by the end of the year. TPP will bring together the U.S. and 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region to further deepen trade and investment.

On Small Business Saturday and every day, the Department of Commerce and the Obama Administration are committed to creating opportunities for small businesses to succeed. In doing so we will continue to send the message loud and clear that America is indeed open for business.