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Timothy Brightbill Testifies at House Small Business Committee Hearing on International Trade Issues

May 21, 2015

Timothy C. Brightbill, a partner in Wiley Rein’s International Trade Practice, testified yesterday at a U.S. House Small Business Committee hearing on efforts to expand the role of small businesses in global commerce. Ongoing trade negotiations, the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA), and the impact of U.S. trade policy on small businesses were among the topics discussed.

“Small businesses face enormous challenges in the area of international trade,” Mr. Brightbill told the panel, noting that of the 28 million small businesses in the United States, only about 300,000 export their merchandise to other countries. 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), if approved, should help U.S. small businesses export by eliminating tariffs, streamlining customs procedures, eliminating trade barriers, and developing more transparent regulatory procedures, he said. But he cautioned that the TPP poses potential threats to domestic small businesses, including the loss of U.S. jobs to lower-wage positions in other TPP countries.

“Before it considers TPP, Congress must first consider Trade Promotion Authority,” Mr. Brightbill said, referring to TPA legislation and amendments that the Senate is considering this week, and that the House plans to consider shortly.

“Congress should not approve new trade agreements until we have better ways of enforcing our existing agreements,” Mr. Brightbill added. “The best way to build support for TPA, among Republicans and Democrats, is to improve trade enforcement for all types of businesses, including small businesses.”

Mr. Brightbill also urged Congress to address the important issue of currency manipulation, by approving legislation directing the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate currency manipulation as an illegal subsidy.

Mr. Brightbill’s prepared testimony can be found here.