(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has introduced an amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority legislation currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate that would boost exports by U.S. small businesses and make sure that trade agreements work for small businesses. The amendment takes a number of steps to help small businesses take advantage of trade, such as reauthorizing the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant program through 2020 and increasing funding for the program by $5 million per year. 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.
“As we debate expanding trade through trade agreements, we must make sure we are providing small businesses with the resources they need to reach these new markets and benefit from exporting,” Shaheen said. “Although 95 percent of the world’s customers live overseas, a very small percentage of small businesses sell internationally. Exporting holds tremendous opportunity for small businesses in New Hampshire and across the country, and we should be doing all we can to help them tap into the global marketplace.”
The appropriations bill that funded the government for the 2015 fiscal year reauthorized and funded the program. The Shaheen amendment would reauthorize the program through 2020. The STEP program has supported more than $900 million in U.S. small business exports, producing a return-on-investment of 15 to1 for taxpayers.
Shaheen’s amendment, in addition to reauthorizing the STEP program, would require an assessment by the Small Business Administration on the impact of a potential trade agreement on U.S. small businesses.