Washington, D.C. – The United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship today passed the Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act (S. 2862) authored by Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) to improve and expand support for small businesses seeking to engage in international trade and exporting.  The Committee passed the bill by a vote of 18-0 and sent it to the full Senate for consideration.

“Small businesses face particular challenges in exporting, and this legislation will take great strides toward ensuring their greater participation in international trade,” said Ranking Member Snowe.  “By improving and bolstering critical Small Business Administration (SBA) lending and assistance programs, we will be giving our nation’s entrepreneurs a helping hand in surviving, diversifying, and competing effectively in the international marketplace.  I am grateful that my bill has received the backing of several prominent national business groups, and in my home state, the Maine International Trade Center, and look forward to its passage by the full Senate.”

Specifically, the Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act contains provisions that would:

  • Establish an SBA Associate Administrator for International Trade to carry out the Agency’s international trade programs and formulate its trade and export policy;
  • Bolster the number of SBA export finance specialists assigned to Export Assistance Centers;
  • Raise, from $2 million to $5 million, the maximum amount of an International Trade Loan or Export Working Capital Program loan;
  • Establish in statute an Export Express program and expand the maximum loan size from $250,000 to $500,000; and
  • Create a State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program to increase the number of small businesses that export and increase the value of the exports by small businesses.

The bill has received support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Exporters Association, the Association of Small Business Development Centers, and the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, in addition to the Maine International Trade Center (MITC). 

S. 2862 expands upon legislation Senator Snowe previously introduced in June, the Small Business Export Opportunity Development Act (S. 1208).