America Online's Your Business Lunch

9/16/96 Transcript: "U.S. Trade Policy Impact on Small Business"

YBizSpot: Welcome to YOUR BUSINESS LUNCH. Please join us daily 1-2pm Mon-Fri. Eastern Standard Time. Please remember that Protocol is in use during this chat event. Enjoy the show!

YBizSpot: Our topic today is: U.S Trade Policy Impact on Small Business

YBizSpot: James Meenan (JRMeenan) is a U.S trade representative based in suburban Washington DC and a U.S trade advisor to the federal Department of Commerce. He advises U.S negotiators on trade matters, as well as raises issues of specific concern to small businesses and minority-owned firms. He also participates in a State Department forum on electronic commerce on the Internet.

YBizSpot: JRMeenan, if you'd like to introduce yourself, we'll start taking questions when you're ready.

JRMeenan: Thanks, U.S. trade policy has been favorable to small business, but implementation is slow. FYI--The US Trade Rep. has been working in the regional trade agreements (NAFTA, APEC)... to support small business, but the actual interventions are still being explored.

YBizSpot: JR, I've heard of NAFTA, but what is APEC?

JRMeenan: APEC is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC covers the free trade area of the Pacific. A similar one for Latin America is FTAA.

YBizSpot: JR, want to expand on how the US Trade Policy affects small businesses? What types of businesses are affected?

JRMeenan: Trade policy covered in regional or World Trade agreements help open the door to commerce.. by working for a better playing field for all concerned. In these regions, small business dominate the economies.

Kjbpcorp: Thank you. My q addresses the need for the US Gov to get involved... Whay dont we just let each business do its own thing.. Why doe we need a policy??

JRMeenan: International governments set the ground rules under which international business function.

YBizSpot: So ... what would happen if we *didn't* have those ground rules?

JRMeenan: If left alone, U.S. business would find it difficult to compete against a European firm... aligned and supported by its government. All h--- would break out. Even with the rules, many try to bend them for their own.. benefit. The OECD for one set the general rules for trade in international project finance.

TimDriver: JR-- Where do you see the greatest growth in International Trade these days? what industries and regions?

JRMeenan: Asia and Latin America have the policies in place and the growth is taking off!

JRMeenan: FYI--the Secretary of the USDOC will issue the new National Export Strategy on 9/24-25 If you would like a copy call 202-482-5455

YBizSpot: JR, you said small businesses dominate the international economy - can you explain? Why is that?

JRMeenan: Small business make up the largest portion of the U.S. and overseas internal economies... however they are much less a player in international trade. So the real growth in trade rests with small/medium business. The major issue is how best to involve them. For example, the new U.S. Export Strategy will focus on small business and access to trade finance. So one vehicle, the Ex-Im Bank will have to do more to delegate commercial banks with the authority to act on their behalf. Ex-Im can not handle small business without help.

YBizSpot: How will they accomplish that?

JRMeenan: Ex-Im has already delegated authority, on a pilot basis, with a bank in Boston--others should push for the same authority. Also, Rep. Toby Roth has been leading the effort for the Bill "Exports, Jobs and Growth Act" the bill would also push the Administration to do more for small business, i.e. create a.. business center with a Internet home page dedicated to small business. It would also push that the regional Export Assistance Centers do more to reach out to each state.

YBizSpot: JR, what's the status of the bill? Does it look good?

JRMeenan: Some feel that to involve small business, either in new trade agreements or exprots, information is key.

Media3pub: If the bill passes, how will these efforts be funded?

JRMeenan: The bill is being revised at this time, since it ran into election year politics and the label of "Corporate Welfare".

Media3pub: Is it "corporate welfare"?

JRMeenan: The small business provisions of the bill are direction--unfunded--while the other sections, reauthorize OPIC, TDA and the trade promotion functions of Commerce. It is an Authorizing bill, Appropriations will follow. Or in some cases, go instead of the Autho.

MSavage139: Am starting small security co. need info on market analysis is SC area. any ideas.

JRMeenan: If SC is South Carolina, I would recommend the local Chamber of Commerce. Most trade info questions and some domestic can be handled by the USDOC Center at... 1-800-872-8723.

Media3pub: How might your position be effected by the upcoming election?

JRMeenan: The trade advisory committee structure is non-partisan and we were just reappointed for another two year period. It also does not pay, i.e. Pro-Bono

Media3pub: Good, glad to know that!! -- except the pro-bono part -- catch 22 -- It's amazing how there is always plenty of work, if you can afford to do it for free:)

JRMeenan: One does for his/her country what one can.

Media3pub: Wish more people felt that way.

YBizSpot: JR, what would a small business owner wanting to get into international trade need to know?

JRMeenan: Watch out now for the US Customs' Service new Automated Export System... they are putting in place a system that will require prior approval of all exports--small.. business will be hard hit to fill all the data requirements in advance and my find their .. shippments and those of other on board a ship held up until the last i is dotted.

Media3pub: JR -- that would be a great article for our paper! our circulation is now over 500,000 small businesses -- can we let them know??

JRMeenan: The fight has been going on for about a year now and Customs is about to mandate it accross the U.S. I can provide contact info for Media3 seperately.

Media3pub: Thanks -- I appreciate that!!

YBizSpot: JR, what can you tell us about the State Dept forum on electronic commerce?

JRMeenan: The State Dept. forum on E-Trade has been holding meetings around DC to explore the new introductions in electronic commerce--internationally. One feature is the new electronic Bill of Lading. It has also pointed out overseas legal problems in foreign govt.

YBizSpot: Electronic Bill of Lading?

JRMeenan: So when you go online to download a new software program--Who's laws apply when you are sent from a California server to Australia.

YBizSpot: I see!

Media3pub: Will there be an international commission to hash through these issues?

JRMeenan: Now in this electronic age, commerce has gone far ahead of the prevailing paper based laws The U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office is taking the lead.

Media3pub: Is this the beginning of "world government"?

JRMeenan: YES--we no longer live in just a city--cyber space has arrive!

Media3pub: so true -- perhaps a little frightening, but here none-the-less

JRMeenan: This will put more pressure on the international forums, i.e. World Trade Organization and other to try and keep up with the technology. Industry will also need cover, to protect their patents and customers.

Media3pub: That is being made difficult -- gov't won't allow us to scramble messages, etc. -- suggestions?

JRMeenan: Our trade advisory group has also been pushing for a "Judge Wapner" type international court to dispense quick justice for small/medium firms.

YBizSpot: Interesting concept....

Media3pub: Funny concept - but probaby effective

YBizSpot: Absolutely!

Media3pub: Do we get to watch the processes on TV:)


JRMeenan: The tv aspects would prove quite boring, as one argues if the goods shipped were used or not--no Holidwood color in that.

Media3pub: LOL -- right, tough to sell to advertisers, huh?

JRMeenan: I dont believe scrambling messages is that critical--closed systems or other means are available to transmit private communications.

YBizSpot: But how secure are they, really?

Media3pub: I don't know enough about it to have an intelligent opinion, but I do share a general sense of paranoia about these systems and the governments ability to access our lives

JRMeenan: More secure systems will be developed, just as commerce demands to protect the transactions being undertaken. Europe may be ahead of the U.S. in this area, as we continue to debate national security concerns.

Media3pub: So why the concern about scrambling and the refusal to allow it? Isn't that just another "more secure system"?

JRMeenan: The old national security concerns by some. But the Adminsitration has opened up some on the issue.

Media3pub: Another catch 22, huh?

JRMeenan: The technology is out there for secure systems. The main question is if the U.S. is going be a leader or follow the rest of the world.

Media3pub: Where does that issue stand now??

JRMeenan: For now the U.S. firms are the leaders--but can't market the technology so the Europeans may win out in the long run on secure systems. If that is the questions.

Media3pub: It is -- partly -- you're right, too big of an issue to tackle here

Return to the Trade Desk.