Monday, May 09, 2011

New Online Tool Highlights Tariff Benefits of FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS for AMERICAN BUSINESSES

From export.gov

Are you an exporter seeking a market where the United States has an existing competitive advantage? Are you spending time looking through pages of legal texts to figure out the tariff under a trade agreement for your products? Would you like to feel empowered to perform instant and at-a-glance searches for trade and tariff trends in one easily accessed location online? The FTA Tariff Tool has the answers to these and many other trade-related questions.

America’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners offer attractive markets for many U.S. companies looking to expand into new markets or export for the very first time. Through these agreements, the U.S. has negotiated the elimination of tariffs, the removal of non-tariff barriers, and secured non-discriminatory treatment of U.S. goods and services. Originally trade and tariff information could only be accessed by sifting through the actual text of the agreements. The FTA Tariff Tool streamlines the search process... Additional benefits include substantial time-savings and the integration of a user-friendly public interface.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) stand to benefit from exporting to FTA partner markets. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Marie Johns explains that, “Many small business owners would benefit from exporting but might not have the time or resources to get started. Giving small business owners a simple way to navigate the complexities of tariffs and international trade is a crucial step in ensuring they have what they need to grow their business and create jobs.” Small businesses are vital to the health and recovery of the American economy. As of 2009, SMEs account for 97.6 percent of all exporting companies but contribute only 33 percent of the total exported value. Part of the problem resides in the fact that an overwhelming 58 percent of SMEs export to a single market. The FTA Tariff Tool hopes to address these unique informational barriers with a view to broadening the geographic coverage of SME export markets.

The FTA Tariff Tool has three functions: 1) a searchable database to find the tariff treatment of industrial goods covered under the U.S. trade agreements; 2) creates market access reports and charts across industrial sectors or product groups; and 3) creates a snapshot of current and tariff and trade trends under different U.S. trade agreements. Businesses are able to see the current and future tariffs applied to their products, as well as the date on which those products become duty free. By combining sector and product groups, trade data, and the tariff elimination schedules, users can also analyze how various sectors are treated across various trade agreements.

The development of the FTA Tariff Tool will be on-going, with plans underway to incorporate agricultural and textile information. Trade data will up-dated on an annual basis and future trade agreements will be incorporated as they are negotiated. The website also provides an instructional video, quick start guide and user’s manual.

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