(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate passed a trade enforcement bill that includes Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) amendment to boost exports by U.S. small businesses. The President is expected soon to sign the broader trade bill, known as the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, into law. Shaheen’s amendment provides a number of initiatives to help small businesses take advantage of trade, such as reauthorizing 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 to enter the international marketplace and create jobs.
“Granite State businesses are producing cutting-edge products that are in demand around the world,” said Shaheen. “As we consider expanding trade abroad, we must make sure we are providing small businesses with the resources they need to reach these new markets and benefit from exporting. With this legislation on track to become law, small businesses will be able to benefit from STEP for years to come and continue to be a major part of America’s trade agenda.”
In New Hampshire, the STEP grant is administered by the state International Trade Resource Center (ITRC) 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 enforcement bill 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.