US official urges American small businesses to export abroad

Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon arrives in the ECOSOC Chamber at United Nations headquarters Thursday, May 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

UNITED NATIONS — The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration urged American businessmen and entrepreneurs to enter the global market, telling the United Nations on Thursday that just 1 percent of small businesses are currently exporting overseas.

Linda McMahon said the nearly 29 million small businesses in America "are the engine of our economy" and create two out of three new jobs — but she stressed that exporting is a key component of small business growth.

"Businesses that export are less likely to go out of business and more likely to grow faster," she told the Small Business Knowledge Summit.

"That's because 96 percent of all of the world's consumers and over three-quarters of the world's purchasing power are outside of the United States," she said. "Yet right now, only 1 percent of all of America's small businesses are exporters."

McMahon conceded that becoming an exporter, especially for small businesses, isn't easy.

"Small businesses are challenged by access to information, capital and barriers to market entry," she told several hundred government and business officials and diplomats at the summit organized by the International Council for Small Business.

McMahon said the Trump administration and her agency are committed to ensuring equal access for small businesses to international markets, expanding export opportunities, and reducing or eliminating "trade and investment barriers that disproportionately impact small businesses."

She said small businesses are hardest hit trying to finance trade deals and by compliance challenges.

"Globally over half of all declined trade finance requests to banks were submitted by small businesses," McMahon said. "In the United States, over one-third of all of our small businesses find trade finance hard to obtain for foreign sales."

She said the Small Business Administration works with banks to try to address this challenge and find "tailored, trade finance products" so that small businesses can finance foreign growth when the private sector is unable or unwilling to provide loans.

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