The United States International Trade Commission (USITC, Commission) is seeking input for a study on the current export climate for U.S. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). 

The USITC classifies SMEs as firms with 500 employees or less.  With a large part of the outdoor industry falling in this category, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is reaching out to its members to solicit comments.

If you are not familiar with the pending USITC study, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) sent a letter to the USITC in October, 2009 asking for a three-part report on U.S. SME exports.  The goal of the study is to identify barriers that SMEs consistently meet when exporting and strategies that they have implemented to overcome the barriers and reduce trade costs. The report will also attempt to analyze how free trade agreements and other trade arrangements could expand the export opportunities of SMEs.

The first part of the report was released this month. Findings from the report indicate that SMEs accounted for around 30 percent of total documented exports from the U.S. between 1997-2007, and about half of the total nonagricultural U.S. GDP between 1998 and 2004. A full copy of this report can be found at the USITC’s website.

As specified in a November, 2009 Federal Register Notice, the second part of the report will be released in July, 2010. This part of the report will attempt to compare how the exports of U.S. SMEs perform in relation to SMEs of other leading economies, notably the E.U. 

To fulfill a data gap on SMEs’ experience with exports, the USITC will hold public hearings beginning in February, 2010 continuing through March, 2010. The Commission has specified that it would not only like to hear from exporting SMEs, but also from those that are not currently exporting product but have tried or considered doing so in the past. The main questions that the Commission is asking SMEs include:

  • What are the most significant constraints that U.S. SMEs face in their efforts to export?
  • If SMEs have been successful in overcoming those constraints, what strategies have they adopted?
  • What particular benefits do SMEs believe they have received from increased export opportunities including those from free trade agreements and other trading arrangements; which trade agreements or other arrangements have been most beneficial?

The first public hearing will take place in Washington, D.C. on February 9, 2010 at the USITC building located at 500 E St. SW. The Commission is accepting requests from interested parties that would like appear at the hearing until January 26, 2010 with pre-hearing briefs and comments from these parties expected no later than January 28, 2010. 

A second hearing will take place on March 10, 2010 in St. Louis, MO, and a third on March 12, 2010 in Portland, OR.  The deadlines for requests to appear at these hearings will be announced at a later date.

If your company is interested in sharing its experience exporting, you can contact the Commission’s project leaders for this investigation directly to obtain more information about submitting formal comments: Laura Bloodgood (202–708–4726 or or Justino De La Cruz (202–205–3252 or  The November, 2009 Federal Register Notice contains more detailed information if necessary.

You can also respond to this e-mail with informal comments-OIA will consider appearing with a set of comments on behalf of its members if there is a significant response.