Javier Palomarez, For the Express-News
As president & CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I represent 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute more than $486 billion to our economy every year. We also advocate on behalf of 250 major corporations through our network of more than 200 local chambers and business associations nationwide.
While the USHCC represents businessmen and -women who happen to be of Hispanic descent, we are first and foremost American businesses. Our members play a critical role in supporting our economy and way of life. To ensure the continued prosperity of our families and businesses, we must explore new frontiers for growth, one of which is international trade.
Hispanic enterprises are the fastest-growing segment of the small-business sector, with a startup rate three times the national average. This is no surprise — our cultural ties, language skills and agility give us a competitive edge in this globalized economy. These qualities also position Hispanic-owned businesses to take the international stage, which accounts for 95 percent of the consumer market.
Fortunately, several trade initiatives are on the docket in Washington, with bipartisan support. These trade agreements will ensure our businesses are on a level playing field with competitors throughout the globe. While many assume that only big corporations export, 98 percent of exporters are small businesses.
At the forefront of this ambitious agenda is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a multilateral agreement to boost trade among the U.S. and other countries, including Mexico and eight countries in the Asia-Pacific region. TPP will lower tariffs and remove barriers in foreign markets, cutting the bureaucracy facing our businesses, making it easier to sell goods on the Internet.
Few parts of our country stand to benefit more from increased trade than San Antonio. Why?
San Antonio is the 16th largest trade market in the U.S., conducting more than $19 billion in exports in 2013 alone — $5 billion more than the previous year.
Small businesses account for 86 percent of San Antonio exports.
Our two largest trading partners — Mexico and Canada — are signatories who stand to benefit from TPP.
These trade initiatives can serve as a lifeline for families desperately seeking better jobs and greater economic opportunity. By giving U.S. companies the access and tools they need to grow, TPP and other free trade agreements will create hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. Every $1 billion of U.S. exports supports more than 5,000 jobs. Export-related jobs pay up to 18 percent more and are less affected by economic downturns.
I want our companies to have the resources they need to thrive, and to encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to further contribute to our economic renewal. The people of San Antonio can help. Make your voice heard in Washington.
I believe U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro has the bold leadership to bring more jobs and opportunities for the people of San Antonio. Call Rep. Castro at 202-225-3236 or 210-348-8216 today to express your support for this pro-small business trade agenda.
With the right policies and proper skills in place, our businessmen and -women will ensure that America continues to out-compete, out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world. All we need is Congress to act now.
Javier Palomarez is president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.