WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today commented on the Export Promotion Cabinet’s report to the President on the National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double American exports over the next five years and support two million American jobs. Currently, less than 1 percent of small businesses are exporting to outside customers.

“With 95% of the worlds customers located outside of our borders, small businesses cannot afford to miss out on opportunities that will allow them to expand their business globally, especially when sales at home are low,” said Senator Landrieu. “I applaud the recommendations made by the Export Promotions Cabinet regarding the implementation of the National Export Initiative. I was especially pleased by the report’s focus on increasing exports by small businesses, as well as the prominent role the SBA will play in carrying out many of the goals the report identifies.”

Senator Landrieu continued, “Even a modest increase in exports by our small businesses will help to reduce the trade deficit, create new jobs, and transform our economy in ways that will allow our small businesses to remain competitive with their foreign counterparts. I am grateful to the Cabinet for listening to my recommendations, and I thank the Administration for their efforts to implement a comprehensive, coordinated and modern approach to promoting export by small business. I look forward to working with the President to implement the Cabinet’s recommendations in the months ahead.”

As Chair of the Small Business Committee, Senator Landrieu has worked closely with Senators Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to advocate for expanding export opportunities for small businesses, introducing and co-sponsoring legislation to expand the Small Business Administration’s export assistance programs. In June 2009, Senator Landrieu introduced the Small Business International Trade Enhancement Act of 2009 (S. 1196) and in December 2009, cosponsored the Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act (S. 2862) introduced by Senator Snowe. Both S. 1196 and S. 2862 seek to improve access to trade loans and counseling programs for small exporters and improve inter-agency coordination of existing federal export assistance resources. Provisions from both bills were incorporated into the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, passed by the Senate yesterday.

In July, Senator Landrieu submitted a letter to the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) containing five key policy recommendations on how to increase exports by small businesses. Several of these recommendations have been incorporated into the Export Promotion Cabinet’s report, including the following:

  • Increased outreach and marketing efforts to the small business community, including underserved and socially or economically disadvantaged segments of the small business community;
  • Updates to existing federal export assistance programs including the SBA’s trade finance and business counseling programs;
  • Improvements in coordination between the Federal agencies that offer export assistance to small businesses;
  • Stronger advocacy for the concerns of small business during the negotiation of free trade agreements as well as increased representation on trade policy advisory committees;
  • Increased resources in support of small business export assistance programs, particularly those programs offered by the Small Business Administration and the Department of Commerce.

During his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama announced the creation of the NEI, which seeks to double U.S. exports within five years. In March, President Obama issued an Executive Order creating an Export Promotion Cabinet, led by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and charged them with completing a comprehensive review of all Federal export promotion programs. The Cabinet’s efforts culminated with a report submitted to the President this week containing key recommendations regarding the implementation of the NEI. The SBA was named to the Cabinet and played a prominent role in the review process, chairing the small business working group.

To view a copy of the letter, please click here.

To view a copy of the report, please click here.