Sometimes it feels like the cards are stacked against U.S. small businesses expanding overseas.
Right now, my company mostly sells our business solutions and information technology products domestically. When we have tried to expand our export operations, we have encountered numerous challenges.
Selling internationally would help us expand here in Texas and hire more employees.
There is a market in China for some of the American-made products we sell, but unfortunately we are unable to meet their price point.
In many Pacific Rim nations, high tariffs on our products make it cheaper for consumers to buy from their domestic suppliers.
Additionally, because labor standards in many Southeast Asian countries are lower than ours, they are able to manufacture similar products far more cheaply, pricing us out of the market.
Finally, every country has different Customs requirements and processes, which add additional time and expense to every shipment.
The more complicated the Customs process is, the more likely something will go wrong, causing a delay at the border and making us a less-attractive option for foreign buyers.
International trade agreements help small businesses like mine compete with domestic suppliers overseas.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, would help shape the rules of international trade in favor of U.S. companies.
The U.S. International Trade Commission’s recent independent examination found the Trans-Pacific Partnership would boost the U.S. economy and help small businesses.
The agreement will eliminate tariffs on U.S. manufactured goods, which for IT products are as high as 35 percent in member countries.
Furthermore, the Trans-Pacific Partnership sets strong labor standards in the Pacific Rim, eliminating forced labor and child labor and establishing minimum wage laws.
This will ensure that domestic companies in those markets don’t gain an unfair advantage against U.S. companies at their workers’ expense.
Finally, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will harmonize the Customs processes so that America’s small businesses won’t have to spend the time and administrative costs ensuring compliance with each country’s process.
My company primarily does international business with China, which is not a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
China is in the process of negotiating its own agreement with other countries in Asia, which would disadvantage U.S. businesses.
While the Trans-Pacific Partnership might not have an immediate impact on my company, it would ensure that the United States, not China, is setting the rules for trade in the Pacific Rim.
Small businesses like mine face numerous barriers when we try to enter new markets. High tariffs, burdensome Customs processes, and low labor standards in Asia make it difficult for us to compete.
This is why Congress should support more international trade agreements.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership would deal America’s small businesses a winning hand, creating more jobs and strengthening the economy.
Audley Logan Sr. is the founder and President of 3-C Technology LLC in Lancaster.