Global Trade Within Reach


Steven C. Preston, Chicago,
Chief Executive Officer

On Tuesday May 12, 2015 Steve Preston is moderating a session with U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, “Connecting Small Business to Global Markets,” at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Supply Chain Summit.

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blog.

The trade agenda is on center stage in Washington right now, and small and medium-sized (SME) business owners are a large part of it.

During a period when trade has consistently grown as a percentage of GDP, SMEs have grown as a percentage of trade. In the most recent tally, SME contribution to U.S. exports exceeded one-third of the total. SME trade is a crucial driver of our economy and an important contributor to our country’s competitive position in the world.

For years I have heard from owners who felt overwhelmed by the prospect of expanding to international markets. The complexities of ever-changing trade regulations, complying with laws in multiple countries, and accessing financing discourage too many SME businesses from even attempting it. Despite these intricacies, many owners of SME companies want to export. However, surveys show many SMEs that do not participate in trade believe doing so could increase their growth, diversify their revenues, and improve their cost structure. Many of these businesses simply opt out because they do not know where to start and are daunted by the consequences of getting it wrong.

The Global Supply Chain Summit can help provide SME business owners with knowledge of resources to help answer their questions and provide them with a better understanding of how the trade agenda in Washington matters to them. I am moderating a discussion with the current U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. Our forum, “Connecting Small Businesses to Global Markets,” addresses how to help SME businesses with training and technical assistance, the impact of free trade agreements, and the value of financing and technical support as they reach for their goal of entering the global trade arena.

I find that SME owners are often surprised to learn how many resources are available to help them learn the export process and gain confidence. The U.S. Chamber, the U.S. Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, customs brokers, and others can help small and medium companies break through that knowledge barrier. Our “Connecting Small Businesses to Global Markets” session introduces owners to these resources and explains how to access them.

Free trade agreements (FTAs), including the anticipated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements, can also help simplify trade for small businesses. Administrator Contreras-Sweet and I will discuss the merits of FTAs.

Our session – and indeed the whole event – is designed to ensure that business owners leave with a better understanding of issues and opportunities in the trade realm. Until then, here is a quick list of “10 Tips to Avoid Border Delays” that you can download for free.

Global trade is within your reach. It’s not just for multi-nationals – it’s for businesses of all sizes that aim to expand their markets, grow the U.S. economy and increase their own bottom line.