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Small Business Exports On The Rise

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 2/6/2012

New government data indicates small business exporting is steadily advancing and capturing a larger share of total U.S. export value.

Recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that small businesses are inching upward in the sale of goods overseas.

Small Business Export Statistics

According to Census Bureau estimates recently disclosed in a Bloomberg Businessweek article by John Tozzi, small businesses (firms with less than 500 employees) were responsible for 35% of exported goods in Q3 2011, up from 32.8% in 2009. These figures reflect the fact that although the vast majority of U.S. exporters are SMBs (98%), small businesses have historically only represented approximately 30% of total export value.

The increase in small business exports comes on the heels of the National Export Initiative's goal to increase American exports to $3.14 trillion by 2015, which is double the size of the 2009 U.S. export market.

President Obama mentioned that the U.S. is on track to meet the 2015 goal in his State of the Union address. However, the modest rate of SMB export growth may underscore the need for the federal government to loosen export controls to encourage additional exporting in the small business community.

It is important to note that the most recent Census Bureau statistics do not include data for the export of services. Services are a robust and growing segment of the U.S. export market and represent an area in which the U.S. regularly achieves an annual trade surplus compared to annual deficits of trade in goods.

When the sale of services overseas are taken into account, small and medium-sized exporters are expected to report even larger gains since small service providers are less susceptible to capital limitations and can easily serve international clients online.

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