Today the House Small Business Committee held a hearing titled “U.S. Trade Strategy: What’s Next for Small Business Exporters?” The first panel of the hearing included testimony from Deputy USTR Miriam Sapiro discussing the status of current trade negotiations and the overall strategy to help small businesses reach new markets.
Also testifying at the hearing was Thermcraft, Inc. President Thomas Crafton from Winston Salem, North Carolina. Mr. Crafton was there to share with the members of the committee some recommendations to help increase exports to create manufacturing jobs.
Mr. Crafton discussed during his testimony the obstacles that Thermcraft still faces when exporting, such as obtaining consistent and reliable information and help from federal government representatives stationed overseas:
On the flipside, we have export issues that arise on a daily basis and continue to be an ongoing struggle. For example, it can be difficult to get consistent and reliable information and help from the local representatives stationed abroad. Commercial Officers seem to see only the big picture and often fail to address the details and help small businesses through the ongoing process of exporting. Regulatory changes are constant, and the burden lies on us to keep up with those changes and decide on classifications for specific products. There is a lack of a single source for info regarding export embargoes. They are listed across multiple websites that take countless hours to research, and it is difficult to know if all requirements have been addressed.
He also mentioned the importance of fee trade agreements and the need to continue to reach new markets for manufacturers as well as the opportunities the Russian market presents:
Small businesses can also benefit from improved access to new markets abroad. Manufacturers were pleased to see the recent implementation of new trade agreements with Korea and Colombia, and I hope the Administration will redouble their efforts to pursue more FTAs. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, for example, will lead to critical new market openings in key economies like Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam. Furthermore, the TPP model could form the basis of new initiatives. Economies like Brazil, Argentina and others are key growing markets and by removing their tariff and non-tariff barriers for U.S. exports, we will tap into important new avenues of growth.
Another potential market for increased U.S. exports is Russia. Russia offers an excellent opportunity for U.S. manufacturers, and the President’s Export Council has estimated that U.S. exports to the country could double over the next five years to $12 billion. This will create manufacturing jobs in a wide variety of industries and boost economic growth, if Congress establishes Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia.
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