The House Small Business Committee recently held a hearing reviewing the operations of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of International Trade (OIT), with the aim of boosting small business exports.
Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez addressed issues such as small businesses looking to export their products abroad often facing difficulty obtaining capital to fill foreign purchase orders. Other frequent issues addressed were the struggle to connect with foreign buyers, along with adherence to international rules and regulations.
The SBA’s OIT is seeking resolutions on these issues as it is the body responsible for supporting small business international trade development and encouraging small business exports. OIT’s main focus is administering the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), where grants are awarded to states and territories to directly support small businesses looking to export.
Chairwoman Velázquez spoke about the benefits of exports and how the SBA can improve their assistance programs, saying: “For small businesses, exporting products abroad can jump-start growth and unlock an enterprise’s full potential. Nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside of the United States. When small firms sell their products internationally, they can reach countless new customers, become more resilient, and boost their bottom line.
“Today, I want to take a closer look at the operations of SBA’s Office of International Trade and particularly STEP, and the actions Congress can take to improve the program and address any challenges facing the Office.”
The STEP program works by matching funds to states and territories for their participation in promotional activities like trade missions, workshops and export exhibitions. In the financial year of 2021, the SBA supported $832 million in export sales through the STEP program while assisting over 3,400 small businesses.
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