January 19, 2010
Bulletin 10-004
Inv. No(s). 332-508
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819
Nearly One-Third of Recent U.S. Merchandise Exports Come from Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Says USITC

U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) accounted for about 30 percent of known U.S. merchandise exports between 1997 and 2007, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in its report Small and Medium Sized Enterprises: Overview of Participation in U.S. Exports.

The most heavily exported goods were computer and electronic products, machinery, and chemicals, with the biggest share of merchandise exports going to Canada and Mexico, according to the report.

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, completed the report at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative. As requested, the USITC provided an overview of SME characteristics, including their role in generating domestic jobs and economic activity; described the value of overall SME exports; listed the principal products, industries, and destination markets involved; and highlighted data gaps that inhibit a complete understanding of SMEs' role in U.S. exports. Highlights of the report follow.

  • SMEs accounted for approximately 30 percent of known U.S. merchandise exports between 1997 and 2007 and about half of private nonagricultural gross domestic product (GDP) between 1998 and 2004.

  • Top merchandise export categories for SMEs in 2007 were electrical products, machinery, and chemicals; these goods were primarily exported to Canada and Mexico. Wood products and apparel and accessories were the sectors with the highest concentrations of SME exports.

  • Canada and Mexico were the largest destination markets for U.S. merchandise exports from firms of all sizes, including SMEs, in 2007.

  • Much of the growth in SME merchandise exports between 1997 and 2007 was attributable to an increase in the number of net new market entrants SMEs that were new to exporting. Export growth from large firms, by contrast, resulted almost exclusively from increases in the value of exports by existing firms.

  • Judging by patterns of cross-border exports and the operations of U.S. affiliates abroad, it is likely that Canada and the United Kingdom were among the largest markets for U.S. SMEs' services exports in two important fields (finance/insurance and professional services) in 2006-2008.

  • The lack of information concerning the size of the manufacturing firms that provide SME wholesalers with their goods for distribution and the absence of published data on SME services sector exports have inhibited a more extensive analysis of the role that SMEs play in U.S. exports.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Overview of Participation in U.S. Exports (Investigation No. 332-508, USITC Publication 4125, January 2010) is available at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4125.pdf. A CD-ROM or printed copy of the report may be requested by emailing pubrequest@usitc.gov, calling 202-205-2000, or writing to the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may also be faxed to 202-205-2104.

USITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the House Committee on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The resulting reports convey the Commission's objective findings and independent analyses on the subject investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the USITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. General factfinding investigations reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.


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