January 21,2010

Press Contact:

Dan Virkstis (Baucus), 202-224-4515
Julia Wanzco Lawless (Snowe), 202-224-1304
Victoria Ekstrom (Landrieu), 202-224-9431

Baucus, Snowe, Landrieu Hail Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Dedicated to Promoting American Small Businesses

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, and Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee today hailed the announcement by Ambassador Ron Kirk, the United States Trade Representative, that his office will designate a high-level position to focus on promoting the trade-related interests of America’s 29 million small businesses.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Montana’s and America’s economy and the key to our economic recovery. We must use every tool available to ensure they have the support they need to endure and prosper in these tough economic times. That’s why we called on Ambassador Kirk to place small business exports among the top priorities within USTR. We thank him for his swift action to dedicate more resources to supporting small businesses through America’s trade agenda and look forward to working with USTR to open new and existing markets to small business exports and create jobs here at home,” Baucus said.

“Given that less than one percent of all small businesses are exporting their goods and services to foreign customers, it is vital we make it a priority to ensure American entrepreneurs are able to successfully compete in the global marketplace and create and retain jobs here at home,” Snowe said.   I first introduced legislation in 2001 and again last month, to establish an Assistant United States Trade Representative for Small Business to ensure that small firms’ interests are reflected and represented in U.S. trade policy, and earlier this week received Ambassador Kirk’s commitment to establish this position and support this critical decade-long effort.”

“This is a vitally important position and that is why I, along with Senator Snowe, have long advocated for its creation,” Landrieu said. “Dedicating an Assistant US Trade Representative to focus on small business will help to bring their needs to the forefront. This representative will be a strong voice for small exporters within the federal government, helping to ensure the needs of these exporters are well represented in trade negotiations. Ambassador Kirk heard of these needs firsthand from Louisiana small businesses when he visited New Orleans last June, at my request, for a field hearing I chaired. I thank Ambassador Kirk for his leadership in making small businesses an important part of our nation’s trade policy.”

Ambassador Kirk announced this morning that the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (AUSTR) for Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness will become the AUSTR for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness, thereby broadening the position’s purview. He made the announcement this morning at a conference titled, “Jobs on Main Street, Customers Around the World: A Positive Trade Agenda for US Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises.”