(Washington, DC) – Today, President Obama signed into law a trade enforcement bill that includes Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) amendment to boost exports by U.S. small businesses. Shaheen’s amendment reauthorizes the successful State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant program through 2020. The STEP program, which Shaheen helped create, is an export initiative that has successfully helped small businesses enter the international marketplace and create jobs.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they are creating cutting-edge products that are in demand around the world,” said Shaheen. “With this bill signed into law, small businesses will continue receiving the resources they need to reach new markets and will benefit from exporting their goods for years to come.”
In New Hampshire, the STEP grant is administered by the state’s Office of International Commerce to help small businesses prepare for new markets, access export financing and attend trade missions. The program has a successful history in New Hampshire, leading to the creation of the NH Aerospace and Defense Export Consortium. Shaheen, the lead Democrat on the U.S. Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, helped craft the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which established the STEP program. Nationwide, the program has supported more than $1.1 billion in U.S. small business exports, yielding a return-on-investment of 19 to 1 to the taxpayer.
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 that became law today will also help level the playing field for American businesses and workers by giving federal authorities the tools they need to enforce U.S. trade laws at the border and hold our trading partners accountable. In addition, the bill includes the ENFORCE Act, a critical measure to ensure that businesses and workers harmed by unfair trade can have their claims investigated and resolved quickly.
Finally, the trade enforcement bill includes a major victory for e-commerce that Shaheen has supported. The bill makes permanent the Internet Tax Fairness Act (ITFA), which prevents taxes on Internet access. Senator Shaheen cosponsored this measure to keep the Internet tax-free and has led efforts in the Senate to prevent ITFA from being tied to the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, which would impose new Internet sales tax collection burdens on New Hampshire businesses.