WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Small Business, delivered the following statement today at a hearing entitled "Help Wanted: How Passing Free Trade Agreements Will Help Small Businesses Create New Jobs":
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The story of the economy this year has been one of recovery. Last week, the Department of Labor reported that over 216,000 new jobs were added in March. Payrolls are on track to see nearly 2 million jobs created by the end of this year. Small businesses are at the forefront of this recovery. They generate nearly two out of every three new jobs. But among these engines of economic growth, one group excels above all others. Small businesses that export tend to grow faster, create more jobs, and pay higher wages than businesses that do not. As the recovery continues gaining steam, small firms will increasingly depend on foreign trade to fuel new growth.
"Despite the immense advantages of trade, it remains exceedingly difficult for entrepreneurs to sell their goods overseas. Even though small and medium-sized businesses account for 97 percent of American exporting companies, their exports account for only a third of all U.S. goods shipped overseas. Studies show that only one percent of small and medium-sized businesses are currently exporting. Most small exporters sell their goods to only one foreign country and to only one customer in that country. Clearly, there is vast potential to grow exports among small firms, and today's hearing will help us understand how the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Columbia can tap that potential.
"There is a growing consensus that well-balanced free trade agreements can be a significant driver of prosperity. By eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers, the pending agreements with Korea, Panama and Columbia can help small firms expand sales globally and create jobs at home. More than 32,000 small businesses here in the U.S. export more than $17.8 billion in goods to these three countries. Still, we should not underestimate the importance of getting it right. While well-crafted trade agreements can result in balanced trade relationships, an overly permissive approach to imports can push American businesses out of the marketplace and exacerbate our growing trade deficit.
"Even with potential benefits of free trade, there are looming issues in all three trade agreements. Panama's recent economic growth has made it a sanctuary for tax evasion and money laundering. Under the South Korean agreement, other barriers, such as disparate efficiency standards and high taxes on American cars go unaddressed. Columbia's persistent record of violence and human rights abuse against organized labor is a source of serious concern. Any trade agreement that opens these countries to an influx of U.S. capital, while ignoring problems like these would be a burden - not a benefit - to businesses in this country that play by the rules.
"Now, more than ever, our country needs policies that encourage fair trade and promote small business expansion. I look forward to hearing how the proposed trade agreements can achieve these goals.
"I'd like to thank our witnesses in advance for their testimony. I'm pleased they could join us and look forward to hearing from them."
CONTACT: Alex Haurek
SOURCE Representative Nydia M. Velazquez, Ranking Member, House Committee on Small Business