Many companies think exporting is too difficult, or they don’t know where to start. When we’re looking for new countries for our clients to export to, we start with countries the U.S. already has free trade agreements with, as they are typically far easier to trade with.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with 11 other countries in the Asia Pacific, would open new markets to American businesses, helping them export more easily so that they can grow their companies and create jobs here in the United States. The U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency, recently found that the agreement would solve many of the issues small businesses currently face when seeking to export overseas.

Without trade agreements, businesses experience numerous challenges. Some companies we work with have problems getting their products, packaging and labeling approved overseas. Different countries have different rules, creating administrative hurdles that can be overly burdensome for small businesses. Other companies have been surprised by tariffs that make their products more expensive than domestic goods.

In addition to these specific problems small businesses face when entering new markets, many businesses also believe exporting is more complicated than it really is. Some owners are scared of going international: They know American products can be taxed as much as 300 percent or more in foreign markets, they have heard horror stories about intellectual property theft or they have seen the regulatory labyrinth that is the Customs process.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would reduce many of these barriers. The provisions relating to e-commerce are particularly important: The Trans-Pacific Partnership establishes free and open internet policies in the Pacific Rim, prohibiting countries from blocking foreign companies’ websites in favor of domestic businesses. This is crucial to helping U.S. small businesses connect with potential customers in those markets.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will address not only the actual complications involved with exporting but also the perceived complications. Many of our clients already are excited about the possibility of trading more easily in 11 other countries. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring attention to international markets that companies don’t yet consider, while reversing the narrative that exporting is too hard or risky for a small business.

If the Trans-Pacific Partnership is implemented, it will become easier for small businesses to enter new markets, boost their exports and create jobs for American workers. Moreover, passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership can lead to future trade agreements, inspiring more countries to open their markets to U.S. businesses. This is especially true and important for European markets. Because the Trans-Pacific Partnership is in the best interest of the U.S. economy and small businesses, Congress should pass this trade agreement soon.

Knud Berthelsen

CEO, Connect + Trade

New Orleans