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"Make It Easy, Make It Safe” – WIPP Writes the Lead Negotiator on Trade Agreements
By John Stanford
Earlier this month, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) sent a letter to the US Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman.
The reason? To make sure the USTR, our lead negotiator on trade agreements with other countries, understands that women-owned businesses care about how the rules of trade are made.
The letter asked Ambassador Froman to focus his efforts on making exporting easier for smaller businesses while ensuring these agreements protect the innovation of American entrepreneurs. This message comes at the exact time when our trade negotiator needs to hear it. The negotiations of two major trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), are underway with TPP nearing completion.
These mega-trade-agreements would remove trade barriers like tariffs, excess taxation, and regulatory burdens, with more than 40 countries in the Pacific region and in the European Union. While T-TIP negotiations only began this year, TPPcould be completed in early 2014; for that reason, TPP has been the focus of trade news.
Why does TPP matter? Three reasons: first, the scale of the agreement, second, the exporting opportunities it could generate, and third, the level of protections is could provide for American goods and services. (For more, we recommend a detailed TPP summary from the Washington Post.)
1) TPP is big: 12 countries representing 40% of all US
exports. The TPP agreement isn’t with one country, it is with 11
(possibly 12 if South Korea joins). In the past, free trade agreements
were typically conducted bilaterally – that is, with one country and the
US. The size of this agreement is unprecedented.
Trade agreements encompass many vested interests, but WIPP is focusing its advocacy efforts on the elements that impact our members most—an easier export process and strong protections of IP.
Do we think the USTR will listen? We hope so. Small- and medium- size enterprises (SMEs) account for 97% of all companies exporting to the TPP countries and nearly 30% of the dollars. Women-owned businesses are a large and growing part of that. Export loans to business women are at an all-time high, and those companies are reaping benefits of more than 100 times the total annual receipts of women-owned businesses only operating domestically. With that kind of impact, our voice on trade agreements and export policy deserves to be heard.
WIPP’s involvement in trade policy is nothing new. Since President Obama made doubling exports a priority in his Administration, WIPP positioned itself to support the millions of businesswomen who want to expand to international markets. That is why, in 2012, WIPP launched ExportNOW, a program designed to educate women entrepreneurs about the vast growth potential in the international market. WIPP partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) as a 2012 Commitment to Action, aiming to open the doors to exporting for over 5,000 women entrepreneurs
The conclusion of the TPP agreement, the ongoing T-TIP agreement, and an upcoming trade debate in Congress are all happening in 2014. It will be a busy year, and WIPP will be there advocating for women-owned businesses every step of the way.
Keep Your Guard Up
12:13 PM JULY 26, 2013
By John Stanford
As more women-owned businesses expand into the global marketplace and focus on exporting as a growth opportunity, a critical issue is often overlooked - the role of intellectual property (IP). IP is the set of laws, rules and restrictions that "your stuff" - the goods and services you sell - actually your stuff. The reality is, though, we as small business owners don't know enough about these protections. And they are often the only things protecting our products beyond our borders.
According to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), only 15% of small businesses with international sales know that a U.S. trademark only provides protection within the United States. No protection, no profits - which hurts everyone. The theft of American IP costs the U.S. economy $300 billion a year, or roughly 2.1 million jobs. Such sobering statistics underscore why programs like WIPP's ExportNOW are vital to the women's business community. By offering educational workshops, mentoring, and strategy development, WIPP ensures women entrepreneurs have the knowledge and resources needed to succeed and protect their businesses overseas.
While understanding the link between IP protection and exporting is simple, navigating the tangle of trade agreements and variations country to country is a real challenge--and an even greater concern. Take, for example, India--a country of more than one billion consumers with which U.S. trade tops $50 billion annually. It is a place where you would think trade is vibrant and protected as a pillar of growth. But that is not the case.
A recent report by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) on India's IP laws warns small businesses to be cautious and proactive in protecting their IP before exporting. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), India is obliged to maintain IP protections. Yet, India's software piracy rate is 63% representing a commercial value of nearly $3 billion. Similarly, the U.S. music industry loses $430 million due to online and mobile theft. India finished last year in the report's International IP index - even behind Russia and China who have notoriously poor reputations for IP protection. Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) remarked, "We are seeing a disturbing trend, where India is turning inward; in which India is directing barriers to trade and investment, and discriminatory practices."
The business community has expressed serious concerns about patent violations, compulsory licensing, and piracy in India--discouraging American innovation overseas. India's promising business climate and growing middle class are a great potential market for small and medium-sized businesses looking to expand, but recent policy and judicial decisions invalidating IP rights create uncertainty for foreign investment. India's case demonstrates the negative effects of weak IP protections on businesses; however, India remains an outlier for IP systems within the international community. The global marketplace continues to offer unmatched opportunities for women owned businesses to expand and tap into new markets overseas and ExportNOW is positioned to ensure these international opportunities become entrepreneurial success stories.
How Do You Say Pickle in Chinese?
November 28, 2012
By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations
I had the privilege to participate in a White House Business Council meeting
focusing on the fiscal cliff. After briefings from Jeffrey Ziets, the
Obama Administration's point man on the federal budget, and Alan Krueger, Chairman
of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, our group broke into smaller
sessions. Since increasing women exporters is a WIPP priority, the
session led by Chairman and President of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, Fred
Hochberg caught my attention.
Resources For Small Business Exporters - Government Can Help
November 27, 2012
Last week marked the 5th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, celebrating the growing interconnected marketplace in which we all work. The Small Business Administration (SBA), aligned the goals of that week - international trade and cooperation - to one of the Obama Administration, the National Export Initiative (NEI). The NEI is the driving force behind the goal to double American exports by 2015.
The SBA's International Trade Office is focused on making America's small businesses a key part of that growth in export. The most recent post, commenting on Global Entrepreneurship Week, talks about the many resources available for small businesses. Click here to find the article.
WIPP has started its own educational and outreach export component, ExportNOW - linking women-owned businesses to the knowledge and resources to be successful exporting companies. Check out the ExportNOW tab on the WIPP website with resources and links to help your business begin exporting.
Small Business Administration and Exporting in 2012
October 31, 2012
When FY2012 ended at the beginning of October, the Small Business Administration (SBA) began identifying trends in lending, spending and agency movement that will continue to be relevant in 2013. These trends offer good insights to small businesses that rely on the SBA as an indelible resource to their success.
Business owners know to follow trends with a keen eye - discerning sound opportunities from temporary fads. Act too slowly and you've missed a real chance to expand, too quickly and realize you've wasted time, money, and precious resources.
One trend that should not be overlooked is the impressive expansion of the SBA in the area of export financing. Consistent with President Obama's National Export Initiative - seeking to double exports by 2014, largely through small businesses - the SBA grew at a record rate with regards to international trade.
- 106% increase in number of loan guarantees
- 207% increase in dollars loaned; reflecting $923 million in loans and $1.7 billion in overall small business export
- Since 2009, the SBA has guaranteed more than 6,000 loans totaling over $3 billion
SBA Administrator Karen Mills, whose leadership was critical to growth, commented that "these record-setting numbers are proof that our efforts to streamline and simplify the process have made it possible to get capital into the hands of small businesses more quickly".
WIPP is standing right alongside the SBA in aiding small businesses to understand and begin exporting. In the last month, WIPP launched ExortNOW as an educational program aimed at introducing its members to the ninety-five percent of the world's consumers who live outside our borders (and spend two of every three dollars). You can learn more about ExportNOW and its launch here.
ExportNOW recently hosted its first webinar featuring the Department of Commerce and their International Trade Administration Outreach team for an "Export 101" on what businesses - specifically women-owned businesses - should know about export. Click here for the presentation and here for the podcast. If you have specific questions regarding export, please reach out to Jason Lalak, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michelle Thompson-Dolberry Announces Export Program at CGI America
June 20, 2012
Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, WIPP Director of Strategic Initiatives, announced the export program at the Clinton Global Initiative America to promote export growth among women-owned businesses: "Through our 61 strategic relationships and partnerships, we will work to further export capabilities for current exporters and help others find successful strategies to expand their business through exports."
Thank you all!
WIPP - President