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National Small Business Week - Kansas City Small Business Conference

During World Trade Week and National Small Business Week, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla had the opportunity to address a conference titled “Futurallia 2011” in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference included over 600 small businesses from across America and 27 other countries. Her remarks focused on the work the United States and our trading partners are undertaking to better support small businesses growth and prosperity through exporting.

For example, USTR is working within the Trans-Pacific Partnership to emphasize the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses. This emphasis will help these businesses participate more actively in Asia-Pacific trade and address trade barriers that affect access to these markets. The United States also convened the first ever joint meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade and SME Ministers in Big Sky, Montana last week. The ministers worked to find ways to address barriers to trade that particularly impact small businesses, and make it cheaper, easier, and faster to trade within the region.

At the conference, Christina met with Missouri small businesses seeking to expand their exports into new foreign markets, including Western Forms, a small manufacturer from Kansas City, which has 100 employees and exports aluminum molds for concrete housing to 40 countries. Company manager Dan Ward expressed his support for free trade agreements, saying “We have customers in Colombia and Panama. [Trade agreements] would help us create more jobs in Kansas City.”

Another small company, SComm, has 10 employees in Raytown, Missouri and exports a patented portable device, the UbiDuo, which helps deaf and hard of hearing people communicate more easily. SComm Vice President Emma Curry said the company has exported to various U.S. free trade agreement partners, including Canada and Australia, among other countries. They are also interested in increasing sales to more foreign customers in additional countries around the world.

Expanding exports by America’s innovative small- and medium-sized businesses is a key priority of the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative – which is working to double exports by the end of 2014 and support jobs here at home.