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Business Leaders Applaud Trans-Pacific Partnership

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After U.S. negotiators finalized the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the Ministerial Meeting in Atlanta, more than 50 senior executives from small and medium-sized companies across the country highlighted the importance of international trade to their businesses. In particular, several business leaders emphasized that the new trade agreement could provide stronger IP protection, eliminate non-tariff barriers, and reduce regulatory risk.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, between the United States and 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, stands to reduce many of the barriers that smaller businesses struggle with in particular. Many business leaders have said that increasing access to international markets would enable them to hire more workers to keep up with new demand.

Business Forward has organized a series of briefings on international trade policy in Washington and in cities across the country to help business leaders brief senior Administration and congressional officials on international trade policy.

Trade's contribution to the U.S. economy has grown consistently, and opportunities associated with trade continue to expand. This past year, U.S. exports supported a record 11.7 million jobs. More than 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside the United States, representing more than 80 percent of global GDP.

If you would like to speak with a business leader about international trade, please contact Rachel Harvey at RHarvey@BusinessFWD.org or 202-470-1318 Elizabeth Kerr at EKerr@BusinessFWD.org or 202-861-1271.

Below is a sample of quotes from business leader participants.

Arizona

"Without exporting, our business couldn't exist," said Wendy Jameson, co-founder and CEO of Colnatec in Gilbert, Ariz. "But we face significant challenges to trading abroad—from state owned enterprises to weak intellectual property protections. TPP would tackle these challenges, and make sure the world plays by fair rules. It levels the playing field for small businesses like mine."

"When our company began production in 2005, we had one employee," said Ray Zuckerman, the CEO of ServerLIFT Corporation in Phoenix. "Thanks in large part to our ability to expand internationally, we now employ 25 and are growing. Strengthening international trade ensures American businesses like ours can compete in the global economy, building for a stronger tomorrow while ensuring long-term prosperity."

"Trade agreements are essential to helping Phoenix businesses export their services, which will in turn boost our economy significantly," said Karen Dickinson, Chair of the Arizona District Export Council. "We must seize this opportunity or risk getting left behind."

California

"It is time to modernize trade rules to reflect today's global economy and deliver greater opportunities for small businesses to thrive. Congress can do so through completing pending U.S. free trade agreements with Europe and Pacific Rim nations," said Roy Paulson, President of Paulson Manufacturing Corporation in Temecula, Calif. and Chair of the National District Export Council.

"At WD-40 Co., business is booming, but we face unnecessary challenges selling American-made products in foreign markets," said Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 Company in San Diego. "Washington should help companies like ours do business smarter, not harder."

"Small businesses that export perform better and contribute more to the economy than those that don't," said Kimberly Benson, the Vice President of Cange International in San Diego. "Yet because of budget and resource constraints only five percent of small businesses are currently exporting. The current trade agreements would significantly help small businesses export by leveling the playing field, making it faster, cheaper and easier to access new markets."

"As a business owner, passing TPP is a no-brainer," said Sabrina Moyle, the Co-Founder and CEO of Hello!Lucky in San Francisco. "Anything that lowers barriers to selling our products overseas is good for business, good for my employees, and good for my local economy. Increasing U.S. exports will make for a more economically vibrant country."

"Many local companies have found their success by selling and exporting "Made in the USA" products to other countries. In particular, there is tremendous demand for U.S. apparel, beauty, health products, and wine in Asia. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will level the playing field and pave the way for the U.S. companies to export its merchandise to more Asian countries. These growing companies will then be able to create more jobs here in Southern California." said Kenneth L. Wengrod, president and co-founder FTC Commercial Corp. in Los Angeles.

"Our clients regularly confront the twin challenges of international trade—market access, and the very different regulatory maze each country imposes on imported goods," said Susan Kohn Ross, Chair of the District Expert Council of Southern California and a partner at Mitchell Silberberg and Knupp in Los Angeles. "Trade agreements open up markets and level playing fields for American companies, large and small."

"Trade supports 4.7 million jobs in our state and trade-related jobs pay higher wages," said Daveed Waithaka, the CEO and President of the California Exporting Group in Sacramento. "The increased trade from trade agreements like TPP would help the Capital Region be even more prosperous, and make it easier for our business to export to Japan – an important market for agriculture exports."

"As the official tourism authority for Los Angeles, our primary mission is increasing visitation to our destination – from both domestic and international markets. This mission has significant economic impact for LA. As we know that free trade agreements positively impact the volume of international visitors participating in U.S. trade shows and conventions, we believe that international trade is a critical factor not only for Los Angeles, but for our peer DMO's around the country," stated President and CEO for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Ernest Wooden Jr.

Connecticut

"As a consumer product manufacturer in the United States, our intellectual property and brand is the essence of our business. Exporting American products like ours is challenging, because we currently have little to no recourse if our IP is stolen," said Beverlee Dacey, the President of Amodex Products in Bridgeport, Connecticut. "The trade agreement would make it easier to enforce copyrights and trademarks on my family's stain removal products. We need to stay ahead of the next wave of protectionism, by empowering our leadership with strong trade agreements that provide a level playing field in foreign trade for American companies."

Florida

"The domestic solar market is unpredictable, so selling to other countries helps us hedge our bets and diversify revenue streams," said Andrew East, the Executive Vice President of AET Solar in Green Cove Springs, Fla. "But right now, we live in a fragmented and challenging global marketplace. These trade agreements will help create a true global marketplace where innovative companies can thrive."

"As Allied Steel Buildings works around the globe—64 countries—we find ourselves in competition with global competitors backed by newly minted free trade agreements, said Michael Lassner, President of Allied Steel Buildings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "It's critical that our government act swiftly to enable U.S. companies to remain globally competitive."

"International trade is a significant part of my business's growth strategy," said John Hartnett, III, the Vice President, Global Business Development for Endoscopy Replacement Parts, Inc. in Newberry, Fla. "Right now we do face challenges with selling our products in other countries. I believe that the international trade agreements will reduce trade barriers to help us compete more effectively in the global market."

"Floridians will benefit from increased market access in this fast growing region of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. Currently, exporters face high tariffs, some as high as 85 percent," said Elizabeth Krekel, project coordinator at the Central Florida International Trade Office in Orlando. "There are many opportunities for Floridians to take advantage of trade agreements. In the past 10 years, exports to Free-Trade-Agreements markets from Florida grew by 72 percent and we look forward to new opportunities in Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam."

"At the National Entrepreneur Center, our goal is to help entrepreneurs grow their business. Many entrepreneurs see expanding their companies through international trade as a great opportunity, and I believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be an important tool for business development in the Asia Pacific region," said Jerry Ross, president of the National Entrepreneur Center in Orlando.

Illinois

"Every time we do business in a new country, we must meet new standards, costing us valuable time and resources. If a pump isn't going to explode in Chicago, it isn't going to explode in Cordoba," said Craig Shields, President and Chief Engineer of the Graymills Corporation in Chicago. "Trade agreements would streamline standards, making trading abroad easier and more efficient. Our business, and the people we employ, depends on those trade agreements passing."

"My family business sells fire pumps, fire trucks and emergency response equipment to over 100 countries every year," said Ryan Darley, International Sales Manager of W.S. Darley & Co. in Itasca, Ill. "Trade agreements help us operate on a level playing field in certain countries where tariffs and other trade barriers would otherwise make selling very difficult. Additional trade agreements would do great things for my business and for the U.S. economy."

"While my company primarily sells specialty chemical products domestically now, I see tremendous potential for international expansion in the future," said Andrew Neal, President of STRYTECH Group Inc. in Northbrook, Ill. "Trade agreements would allow companies like mine to reach new markets and help create jobs at home."

"When we're exporting our hair care products overseas, we face two primary challenges: expensive tariffs and trademark infringements. I am hopeful the Trans-Pacific Partnership will help address these challenges so that more small businesses like mine can sell our products to customers abroad without worrying about losing money or our intellectual property," said Reginald Maynor, the director, international division at Luster Products Inc. in Chicago.

Indiana

"Every day I wake up and try to help small businesses grow doing more international trade deals, and thinking globally," said Dr. Toby Malichi, founder, chairman & global chief executive at Malichi Group Worldwide in Indianapolis. "I know that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will lower barriers and clear a pathway for more U.S. companies to grow and create new jobs. In particular, I've learned firsthand how valuable it is to have the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision in trade agreements to protect U.S. companies from challenges overseas."

Kentucky

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership will create the largest and most productive trading area in the world. Through reduced tariffs, it will enable manufacturers and their suppliers to deliver products to U.S. consumers at lower prices. The reduced consumption costs will increase disposable income for all Americans. This income increase could lead to a new era of economic growth for all the partners covered by the agreement – as well as their citizens," said Dr. Robert L. Brown, Dean of the W. Fielding Rubel School of Business at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky.

Maryland

"As a business development specialist, I spend every day helping my clients expand to new markets, particularly in Africa. Trade agreements offer opportunities for every U.S. business—large and small—to be part of a national team effort toward growing and sustaining a vibrant United States," J. Wendell Addy, Director of Maz-Amtech LLC in College Park, Md. "Right now, it's hard for businesses to do work abroad, but trade agreements will create sustainable jobs and set international standards for fair and transparent trade practices."

Minnesota

"For my company and the packing machinery industry, exports are key to both maintaining our competitive position and serving our food and beverage clients, many of whom have international operations," said Dale Andersen, the President and CEO of Delkor Systems, Inc. in St. Paul, Minn. "The recent change in the valuation of the dollar is going to make Delkor's export opportunities considerably more challenging in 2015. We compete with many European manufacturers in places such as Mexico, Canada and South America. One big advantage that the European manufacturers have is a variety of governmental support programs to assist them with their export business. Given the more competitive landscape, this is an excellent time for the U.S. government to find ways to support small- and medium-sized manufacturers exports."

Missouri

"Exporting our expertise overseas increases the number of customers who have access to American products. Increases in the demand for our services and Made-in-America energy products translate to increase in revenue and consequently our capacity to create new jobs." said Ike Nwabuonwu, Chairman and CEO of Alpha Energy and Electric, Inc in Kansas City, Mo. "I hope that Congress will approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the most important trade agreement in years."

Nebraska

"Right at Home International is honored to have been a recipient of the President's 'E' Award for Exports in May, for our contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports, job creation and economic development across the globe," said Blake Martin, chief operating officer of Right at Home International in Omaha, Neb. "With a presence in eight countries, our international growth remains a top priority, and it can be impacted substantially by federal trade policy."

Nevada

"My company helps other small- and medium-sized companies import and export their goods more efficiently and economically. I see every day how trade agreements make a difference. For example, without agreements, duties can be quite excessive and sometimes my clients will simply step away from the idea of exporting their goods at all, especially to European and Asian countries. If they opt to still export their goods, they will certainly move less volume," said Kim Daniels, President of Mercantile Logistics & International Trade, Inc. in Henderson, Nev. "With both TPP and T-TIP, businesses would be more apt to export their goods, knowing that they are going to be able to compete in the economic environment of the receiving country."

New Jersey

"International trade is an essential element to any company's growth and development. Whether export or import, there is virtually no industry that does not depend in some form on global trade. The president's trade policies have a significant effect on the growth of international trade and the U.S. economy. Therefore, these policies are important to business and the general public alike," said Professor Robert P. Imbriani, executive vice president at International Team Worldwide, in Elizabeth, N.J.

"My business is very small and we just recently entered the export market with a sale to Italy. We are still traversing a steep learning curve with a long way to go. But we have learned enough to feel that expanding access to international markets is essential for us and others like us," said James Flaherty, president and CEO of Adsorptech, Inc. in Hampton, N.J.

"We've seen great demand for our nutritional supplements around the world, particularly in the Middle East. People are hungry for American-made health products. We think we could grow our customer base in the Asia Pacific and believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership would really help us reach our goals," said Rocky Hadzovic, general manager of Nature Fit in Hackettstown, N.J.

North Carolina

"International trade plays a vital role in the ongoing successes of SEWW Energy's ability to provide lifesaving energy and healthcare infrastructure solutions to our clients. The trade agreement will help us circumvent trade barriers that often make exporting a daunting endeavor for small businesses. SEWW Energy welcomes trade and investment agreements that are fair, transparent, and accountable, in an effort create a level playing field for small- and medium-sized companies," said Kevon Makell, CEO of SEWW Energy in Charlotte, N.C. "The opening of new markets for American products and services will help ensure SEWW Energy and other small businesses, whose revenues increasingly derive from our ability to export our products and services, can compete with foreign competitors on the international markets."

Oregon

"International trade is incredibly important to the U.S. travel and tourism industry. In 2014, more than 75 million international visitors came to the U.S. and spent more than $180 billion. International travel helps support more than 1.7 million travel and tourism jobs," said Todd Davidson, the CEO of Travel Oregon and National Chair of the U.S. Travel Association. "Increasing international trade increases international visitors who come to the United States to do business, select sites, as well as vacation."

"My company provides unique solutions to the semiconductor industry around the world" said Armagan Akar, President and CEO of TESEDA Corporation in Portland, Ore. "As a small business, we see tremendous value in the protection of intellectual property rights, the harmonization of trade standards, regulatory compatibility, and the increase in cross border investment flows that the T-TIP and the TPP bring. We believe these key factors will not only help us grow our business, but also help companies like ours protect jobs in the United States through the standardization of intellectual property protection laws and practices."

Pennsylvania

"My company, Thompson Mahogany Co. has been in the import business and has been creating good jobs for Philadelphians since 1843," said Andrew Nuffer, the General Manager at Thompson Mahogany Co. in Philadelphia. "But right now, we need trade agreements to ensure not only that we can continue to import the finest hardwood lumber, but also so that the cost of doing so isn't prohibitive."

"After the U.S. finalized a trade agreement with South Korea, my company saw significant increases in sales there. As a supply chain management company, our growth has helped to increase or maintain thousands of U.S. jobs," said Rachel Carson, President & CEO of Helicopter Tech, Inc., in King of Prussia, Pa. "I know that if more trade agreements pass it will help more small businesses like mine."

Rhode Island

"I look forward to bringing a unique perspective on U.S. companies' trade concerns and international business needs to the discussion, including the importance of real-world learning experiences as a way to prepare the next generation of business professionals with a global perspective," said Raymond W. Fogarty, director of Bryant University's John H. Chafee Center for International Business in Smithfield, R.I. "Increasing exports and preparing a global workforce for the future is of utmost importance to our state, our region and the country as a whole and represents the mission of our Center."

Tennessee

"My company is small, but exports are crucial to our business strategy. We currently export to about 20 different countries, with most of our exports going to the Pacific Rim. I hope the Trans-Pacific Partnership will lower the barriers to our growth in the region and help us hire new workers here at home," said Donald Stacy, president and CEO of Quality Filtration, LLC in Nashville.

Texas

"International distribution is a critical part of my company's strategy, but we currently face challenges with selling our beverage dispensers abroad. For example, different countries have different certification standards that are burdensome to comply with," said Luis Alvarez, President and CEO of Lancer Corp. in San Antonio. "Fortunately trade agreements will remove a number of barriers for companies like mine. This will allow us to create more jobs at home."

"I was glad to be able to share my experiences about international trade with senior Administration officials today," said Frank Sonzala, Executive Vice President of Pressure Systems International, Inc. in San Antonio. "My company exports to 44 countries around the world. We see a high return on investment, particularly when we export to emerging countries, because they have a greater need for our product, which helps maintain safe tires. From my experience, I know that if we extend trade agreements with other countries, it's going to create jobs in America."

"International growth options are incredibly important for a small business like ours that's looking to broaden its reach. As the manufacturers of high quality skin care products, we have found there is a demand for our American made goods in international markets," said Michele Beckley, Vice President of Merlot Skin Care in El Paso. "These trade agreements play a vital role in helping to pave the road for expansion, not only abroad, but in the U.S. as we bring on more key team members to help execute on our expanding operations."

"Our company exports products to more than 25 countries around the world," said David Ickert, the Vice President of Finance at Air Tractor, Inc. in Olney, Texas. "Our global reach has been critical to our successful growth. We need trade agreements that will help more companies like ours sell abroad and create more jobs at home."

"My business distributes high-quality coffee products to global customers. I believe that every U.S. company that exports contributes to the health of the American economy," said Susan Jaime, the CEO of Ferra Coffee in San Antonio. "International trade agreements will make it much easier for small businesses like mine to do business abroad, increase revenues and hire more workers."

"Just as many Texas companies expanded their potential by doing business with Mexico after the passage of NAFTA, I'm confident that more companies will grow and create new jobs after the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I see many opportunities to sell minerals in the Asia Pacific and that new business would help me expand at home," said Jaime Menendez, commercial operations director at J6 Mineral in San Antonio.

"Texas' investment in global markets has supported approximately 1.2 million jobs across the state," said Octavio Manzano, president of Apfelbaum Industrial, Inc. in El Paso. "My company has been a beneficiary of vital trade agreements for the past 20 years. We know firsthand that trade expansion will strengthen our economy and support the growth and success of businesses that critically depend on these agreements."

"The current trade agreements do not adequately address cross border data flow issues, IP ownership and internet governance issues. The global economy is rapidly becoming a digital and information-enabled economy. It is very important that the United States participate in and lead trade agreements that deal with issues related to data flow and governance," said Chowdary Yanamadala, senior vice president of Chaologix in Dallas. "As a provider of proprietary data-security IP to customers globally, we are impacted directly by the trade policies in this area and we think that there is more work that needs to be done immediately. I hope the Trans-Pacific Partnership is finalized swiftly, thereby enabling the United States to maintain its leadership in the global economy."

"As a health benefit administrator, our business depends on the small business community," said Jose Carlos Gonzalez, Principal, Gonzalez & Asociados in Houston. "If more manufacturing is done right here in Texas as opposed to China, that will be good not only for small businesses, but also for the economy at large."

"As a dentist, a strong economy means economic success to many other businesses," said Francisco P. Ramos, a dentist in San Antonio. "I want to encourage our legislators to pass and understand the significance the TPA proposal."

Virginia

"Doing business internationally is important to my company's growth. I have experienced firsthand how state-owned enterprises from other countries threaten to put our company out of business," said Dr. Amanda Sozer, the Founder and President of SNA International in Alexandria, Va. "Passing trade agreements would help American businesses compete on a level playing field internationally."

"My company has a vested interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other free trade agreements. These agreements provide both protection and opportunity to export our services to businesses world-wide," said George Judd, director of Cask, LLC in Stafford, Va. "In the twenty-first century, we must do business with those who we share common interests with, if not always common values. Those common interests include sharing best practices, increased management and economic transparency, and support for improved standards of living through technology and infrastructure investments."

"From protecting the world's ports, borders and transportation hubs to safeguarding critical infrastructure and the global flow of goods, Decision Sciences International Corporation's Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) incorporates revolutionary technology capable of passively detecting, identifying and locating radiological and nuclear materials (shielded or unshielded) as well as explosives, narcotics and other contraband and anomalies in cargo containers, vehicles and other conveyances," said Dr. Gene Ray, CEO of Decision Sciences International Corporation in Middleburg, Va. "Trade agreements that open up new export and import markets necessitate enhanced security for the global flow of commerce. For DSIC, these new markets present business and deployment opportunities for our MMPDS."

Wisconsin

"International trade made it possible for our customer base to grow, creating jobs here in the United States that would not have existed otherwise," said Kyle Weatherly, the President of Solaris in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "Congress must support the Trans-Pacific Partnersip so more American companies can expand and create more jobs at home."

Washington

"Every product we sell overseas helps us hire more Washington-state workers and pay them competitive wages," said Anil Amlani, the Senior Vice President of Global Sales at FUJIFILM SonoSite, Inc. in Puget Sound, Wash. "We need Washington to improve international trade policies so that we can continue to reach healthcare providers and patients all over the world. More international trade could create more opportunities for our business and many other Puget Sound businesses, both big and small. This is a win-win."

CONTACT: Rachel Harvey, rharvey@businessfwd.org, 202-470-1318 Elizabeth Kerr, ekerr@businessfwd.org, 202-861-1271

Source: Business Forward