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Ask The Ambassador: The Importance of Small Businesses

10/08/2009 - 11:07am

Brian from Virginia recently asked Ambassador Kirk about the importance of small businesses and their exports from the U.S.

Ambassador Kirk responded:

"That's a great question, Brian. Trade is especially important to U.S. small businesses.

More than a quarter million U.S. firms export goods. 97 percent of these have fewer than 500 employees, and nearly two-thirds have fewer than 20 employees.

Let me give you an example. TowHaul is a small business with fifty employees in Belgrade, Montana. Towhaul designs and manufactures custom trailers and other large pieces of equipment used in the mining operations. Travel thousands of miles from Belgrade to Canada, Namibia, Chile, Russia, or a dozen other countries around the world, and you could see TowHaul's heavy equipment hard at work.

We know that small businesses, like TowHaul, drive the U.S. economy and the best way to get our economy back on track is to provide these businesses access to new markets and a larger consumer base for their products.

Earlier this week, I announced the first steps in a new initiative aimed at increasing exports by small- and medium-sized firms in the United States. I requested an investigation by the International Trade Commission to better understand how many of America's small- and medium-sized enterprises export now, their role in generating employment and economic activity in the U.S., and how increased trading opportunities might benefit these businesses and their workers. I'm also expanding USTR's focus on identifying and increasing opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses to export both goods and services. I believe that this new effort can ultimately grow jobs here at home as companies sell more goods and services worldwide.

USTR is also working with the Commerce Department and across the government to get small business owners and entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed in the global marketplace. Through the U.S. Commercial Center and local Export Assistance Centers across the country, this administration is making sure that when America's small business owners have questions, they will get answers. We encourage all businesses to visit export.gov to find out more."

Be sure to check back for updates on Ambassador Kirk's initiative, and keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.