U.S. SME Exporting Slows: Survey - Global Trade Magazine
  May 28th, 2016 | Written by

U.S. SME Exporting Slows: Survey

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  • Global market volatility and a strong U.S. dollar have contributed to a slowdown in exporting among U.S. SMEs.
  • In survey, 39 percent of SMEs reported increases to their export volumes, down from 52 percent in 2013.
  • Getting paid is the number one challenge currently facing exporting U.S. SMEs.

Small and midsized U.S. enterprises are taking on more of the administrative burden associated with exporting even as growth in exporting is slowing.

Those were among the conclusions drawn in the 2016 Small Business Exporting Survey recently released by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) and its international trade arm the Small Business Exporters Association.

The survey covers topics ranging from export finance and free trade to export volume and preferred export countries. The study was performed in partnership with the customs broker, freight forwarder, and trade compliance company Livingston International.

“Global market volatilities and a strong U.S. dollar have contributed to a slowdown in export activity among small firms,” stated NSBA President and CEO Todd McCracken. “Today, just 39 percent of SMEs reported increases to their total export volume, down from 52 percent in 2013.”

The number one challenge facing current SMEs is getting paid which, coupled with turbulent foreign markets, led to an increase in the number of SMEs that reported utilizing Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank products, despite a program shutdown in the past year. Not surprising, two-thirds of SMEs only ship their product/services upon payment in full.

When it comes to free trade agreements (FTAs), SMEs report broad benefits, including access to new foreign markets and opportunities to expand existing export operations. Just five percent of SMEs report actually being hurt by FTAs, and a majority say they are more likely to enter a new market if it is covered under an FTA with the U.S.

“The top concern among non-exporting small firms is a lack of knowledge and how to get started,” stated Livingston International CEO Steve Preston. “More and more SMEs today report they handle the bulk of their exporting activities without the help of external resources that could ease the process greatly.”

NSBA is a nonpartisan organization with 65,000 members advocating on behalf of America’s entrepreneurs.