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APEC, Small Businesses and Big Potential

USTR continues its outreach this week to bolster exports by small- and medium-sized businesses, and on January 27th Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea, and APEC Affairs Wendy Cutler led a conference call with small and medium-sized enterprises from across the country. The call was organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with over ninety members of local chambers of commerce from around the country, as well as members of the Chamber's trade coalition from organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and the Coalition of Services Industries joining the discussion.

AUSTR Cutler asked about the challenges that small- and medium-sized businesses face in exporting to the Asia-Pacific, which will help USTR better address the needs of small- and medium-sized business exporters in its on-going initiative. Cutler also explained how USTR is working in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) to make it cheaper, easier, and faster to do business in the Asia-Pacific region.

She briefed the callers on the specific initiatives that USTR is leading in this area, including work to increase the transparency of tariff and rules of origin information; simplify rules of origin documentation and procedures to facilitate the ability of SMEs to take advantage of free trade agreements in the region; and reduce the time, cost, and uncertainty of moving goods and services through the region by improving logistics and transportation networks. The call was also an opportunity for Ms. Cutler to brief the participants on the United States hosting APEC in 2011 and how interested businesses can become more involved in this effort.

This type of close consultation with the business community will help USTR better address the challenges faced by U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses exporters in the Asia-Pacific region and contribute to the preparations for a successful APEC year in 2011 when the United States hosts.