Recently in the Export NOW Category

Women Impacting Public Policy joined a recent White House Business Council Meeting to share how various policies are affecting women business owners across the country. The meeting included several White House staff along with top officials from the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration.


At the meeting, WIPP stressed the importance of capital access as the critical issue for women business owners looking to start and grow their companies, and highlighted WIPP's 2013 Annual Survey finding that it takes an average of two attempts for women business owners to secure funding.


Commerce Undersecretary for Economic Affairs, Mark Doms, agreed that the economy would be best served by giving business owners more access to capital. The Commerce Department's new strategic plan, America is Open for Business, reflects that priority by stressing innovation and investment.  


SBA Associate Administrator for Capital Access Ann Marie Mehlum concurred, saying her office will continue to identify opportunities to expand access while strengthening SBA's already available capital access programs. She went on to highlight the 7(a) loan program, which supported more than $15 billion in small business loans in FY13.


The meeting closed with a discussion of how trade can be used to fuel growth for businesses of all sizes. The Administration agreed there is a need for streamlining and simplification in exporting as well as engaging the women's business community on the value of selling goods and services abroad. Both of those priorities are at the front of WIPP's ExportNOW program that encourages women entrepreneurs to grow beyond our borders.


These meetings are open dialogues with policymakers, giving WIPP's advocacy team the opportunity to share ideas and concerns raised by WIPP's members.

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, TPP could be completed in early 2014; for that reason, TPP has been the focus of trade news.
Why does TPP matter? Three reasons: frst, the scale of the agreement, second, the exporting opportunities it could generate, and third, the level of protections it could provide for American goods and services. (For more, we recommend 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.
          2) Women-owned businesses will have access to more markets. One of the top reasons companies that have never exported refrain from starting is the lengthy and tiresome process to get started. Trade agreements minimize such burdens.
          3) The agreement contains an entire chapter devoted to "Intellectual Property" (IP). IP, the legal protections for Innovation, is at the heart of many businesses. Protecting it beyond our borders is important to many employers considering exporting as a growth opportunity.
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 20% 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 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.
Learn more about WIPP here and about WIPP's exporting outreach and education program ExportNOW here. Interested in learning more about trade in 2014, be sure to register for our upcoming webinars.

Even in the face of unnecessary headwinds created by things like a government shutdown or the still-present threat of a debt-limit default in February (despite the respite offered by the budget compromise), the economic recovery witnessed in recent years is real and encouraging. And near the center of this recovery has been the emergence of a natural gas boom the likes of which few could have predicted, but the breadth of this impact could be greater with policies in place like those that enable American producers to access global markets.

As business owners, one area that should be addressed concerns the need to move liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects forward in a timely manner. The United States has a great economic incentive to pursue increasing LNG experts, and the ability to do so. 

A recent economy in every market scenario examined. In fact, multiple studies show that increasing the exports would work wonders for our domestic economic outlook, and that our reserves can easily meet the elevated demand resulting from access to global markets. 

The economic benefits resulting from increasing LNG exports would be felt far beyond the energy sector. According to a recent ICF International study, the United States could add up to 452, 300 jobs between 2016 and 2035 by increasing LNG production, with total annual GDP growth expanding from $15.6 to $73.6 billion annually between 2016 and 2035.

We would like more clarity on why the DOE is delaying LNG exports. It's certainly not because of a lack of means or capacity to produce. 

The United States ranks #1 in the world in recoverable shale gas reserves. We have ample resources to meet domestic needs and export LNG for decades to come, and we have the political will - from Oregon to Texas to Maryland - to do just that.

Unfortunately, nearly all of these projects - and the permits that they require prior to starting to export - have been sitting in the queue, waiting for approval from the Department of Energy. Applications to export LNG to non-FTA countries have also been in queue before the DOE for months - and in many cases, even years, with no evident timetable for their approval or even their review. What's more, even among those few permits that have been approved, actual construction and competition is no guarantee thanks to the myriad hurdles that export terminals must clear, including, but not limited to environmental review, FERC permits, state siting, potential lawsuits, and financing. LNG export facilities take several years to finance, approve, and finally construct.

While we can all agree that a thorough review process is vital to any infrastructure project, it is clear to us that the delays currently being witnessed relative to the LNG exports are plainly contrary to our national economic interest. And as this delay continues, we run the very real risk of watching the window of opportunity close when it comes to LNG exports.

Market conditions in the United States and globally currently favor America's entrance into the export market. Domestic prices are low, while international prices are high. But this is not a permanent dynamic. Prices can shift. And more over, the United States is not the only nation that hope to export LNG. In fact, as recently as last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Canada to discuss Japan's significant need for imported natural gas. Canada would be more than happy to fill that need - particularly if they face no competition from American companies. 

Export is an important initiative for WIPP, and certainly for its members who are in the energy sector. They feel that it is essential that the DOE acts quickly to spur action on the pending applications. We need to urge the DOE to approve all pending applications for LNG export and let the market determine viability.

The U.S. has a rare opportunity to impact the global energy landscape while narrowing our trade deficit and adding domestic jobs and growth. Let's see if we can cut through the red tape that is holding up needed investment. 

by Barbara Kasoff, President, WIPP

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 make "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.

By John Stanford, WIPP, Government Relations

It's that week of the year again: National Small Business Week. A flurry of interest, awards and panels all about the integral role of small business in the American economy. As many of you would know, WIPP was a sponsor of the week and at the first event, WIPP President, Barbara Kasoff talked about the pivotal role women-owned businesses play, particularly through government contracting, in strengthening the small business community. (Read about the week's events and stories here).

The week serves as a stark reminder of just how important small businesses are. We know the statistics: half of Americans work for, or own a small business, and small businesses create just about two out of every three new jobs in America each year. Something else I heard this week, however, was a message around small businesses that I didn't know--that we need to focus on protecting our work and our businesses. Protecting our intellectual property.

The President seems to think so as well. In his remarks on Small Business Week, he focused on protecting innovation and trade, "At a time when abusive patent litigation is stifling economic growth and putting companies of all sizes at risk, my Administration is taking action to protect innovators and keep our patent system strong." He went on to talk about that protection going beyond our borders by bringing more small businesses to the global marketplace through export. WIPP agrees--and launched ExportNOW to further that aim. But the President isn't the only politician talking about small businesses and intellectual property right now.

Earlier this month, Senator Ted Cruz(R-TX), a rumored presidential hopeful, took time to explain this critical link between intellectual property (IP) and small business. In a question on how Washington can support small businesses,Sen. Cruz included the need to "be vigorous in protecting intellectual property" and to "focus on the environment that allows small businesses to thrive and prosper." (Watch the video of en. Cruz on IP and small business here). 

It appears that both sides of the aisle can agree on this issue---which should be a sign to us, as a cornerstone of the small business community, that we need to protect our investments, our livelihoods, our businesses. But as the week's 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement noted, "Small businesses can be particularly vulnerable to intellectual property theft, simply because many small businesses may not be aware of the protect their intellectual property." In other words, we need to do more, and learn more to ensure the continued success of our companies.

Growing businesses in today's world will mean looking beyond the U.S. to a global population representing 95% of the world's consumers. But before we go abroad, we have to make sure we've protected our products and services as well as the lifelong effort behind them.

So as we enjoy an annual celebration of all the small businesses that keep America running, it has been nice to hear something unexpected, from two leaders who don't often agree. It's my guess that this won't be the last time we hear about it.




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