SBA’s Olivarez: TPP Ratification Would Boost New Orleans, Baton Rouge Small Businesses

NEW ORLEANS – Yolanda Garcia Olivarez, the SBA Regional Administrator for the South Central Region, contributed the following OpEd:


         While small businesses represent the majority of American exporters, their export sales represent less than a third of the overall value of American exports. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of our country’s borders, but only one percent of American small businesses are selling to them.

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         Small businesses make up 85% of exporters in Louisiana. Cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge are essential contributors this percentage.  Our latest stats show in 2014, merchandise exports from New Orleans – Metairie totaled $34.9 billion. In Baton Rouge merchandise exports totaled $7.5 billion and in Lake Charles the total was $5.5 billion.

         These small exporters will be able to do even more with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). By addressing trade barriers that are particularly challenging for small businesses to navigate, TPP allows our small businesses to reach new markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, TPP will help more small businesses navigate the barriers by eliminating 18,000 taxes and tariffs that deter many from considering foreign markets.

         In other words, if ratified by Congress, TPP would help open doors for small businesses that would otherwise remain closed. It would be the first trade agreement that incorporates a chapter regarding American small and medium-sized enterprises to do business with 11 different countries, which include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  

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         Louisiana exports are already creating jobs with 27% of Louisiana’s goods that went to TPP countries with revenues of about $17.5 billion in 2014.   

         One huge focus will be the chapter bolsters substantive commitments on these issues in chapters like those on Customs and Trade Facilitation, E-Commerce, and others by providing readily accessible information to small and medium-sized enterprises on the opportunities TPP will offer, and giving them an ongoing means to engage with TPP governments on ways to enhance the functioning of the agreement so as to benefit small- and medium-sized enterprises.

         By 2030, two thirds of the world’s middle class consumers are projected to live in the Asia Pacific region. The internet and e-commerce has opened up a new world of opportunity for small businesses to sell to them with the click of a mouse. TPP would help them realize that promise.

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         Opponents of the deal contend that increased global trade moves jobs overseas. But for our small business sector – which creates two out of three new jobs in our country – the opposite is actually true. According to a study published by the Institute for International Economics, exporting firms not only grow faster, they are less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies. Also, firms that export pay up to 18 percent more than companies that don’t creating better jobs in the United States.

         Overall, TPP levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses, leading to more Made-in-America exports and more higher-paying American jobs here in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  Passing TPP would help small businesses share their ingenuity with vast new pools of waiting consumers who believe in the American brand, keeping alive that intrepid entrepreneurial spirit that brought this country’s earliest innovators to the ports of this storied international city.

         Regional Administrator Olivarez leads delivery of SBA services in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.



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