Editor's Note - The following letter from U.S. President Barack Obama was published on the eBay Main Street blog:
Hi eBay Main Street Community -
While most Americans are just beginning to think about Thanksgiving, I know that, for you, the holiday season has been in full swing for some time now. From checking inventory to promoting products and sorting out shipping logistics, there’s a lot that goes into meeting demand during the holidays. For you -- and all of America’s online sellers – it’s crunch time.
And I’m sure the realities of the 21st century economy are making this season both more exciting—and more stressful. Demand has gone global. The majority of you have customers in foreign countries – and that’s not surprising. Today, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders—and it’s our small business owners who are often the first to reach them. In fact, 98 percent of those who sell American goods and services abroad are small and medium-sized business owners.
They’re sellers like Rebecca Germain, an international entrepreneur turned stay-at-home mom who used her business savvy and the freedom an open Internet provides to sell scrapbooking crafts on eBay. Or Nick Martin, a Wisconsin native who traded living out of his van for running a successful eBay business that continues to grow because of his ability to reach customers around the globe.
It’s businesses like yours that helped us sell a record-breaking $2.34 trillion in exports around the world last year, which supported nearly 12 million jobs here at home. However, while many on eBay are selling abroad, fewer than 5 percent of American small businesses are selling their products in foreign markets—and most who do export only sell to one country.
That’s got to change. If America is going to continue to lead, we have to make it easier for entrepreneurs like you to sell what you proudly make here in some of the fastest-growing markets around the world.
That’s why my team spent five years negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new trade agreement that levels the playing field for you and your employees, bringing down trade barriers like high taxes and red tape, while preserving free and open digital data flows between you and your customers in the Asia-Pacific.
You can read the full text of the deal right here.
Now, there’s a lot in there, and there are a lot of opinions and back and forth out there about the TPP, so I want you to hear straight from me exactly how this agreement will impact businesses like yours:
First, TPP will help preserve a free and open Internet. In the last six years, the number of people connecting to the Internet has nearly doubled to 3 billion, with the fastest growth in developing regions like Southeast Asia. In fact, TPP trading partners are home to over 300 million Internet users, and they’re looking to connect and buy from sellers like you. A free and open Internet will be vital to enabling tens of thousands of American small businesses the opportunity to sell to the full measure of consumers who are connected to the Internet – not just those with a locally-required Internet provider. (After all, a platform like eBay might not exist without a free and open Internet.)
With a chapter dedicated to e-commerce, TPP establishes rules for digital trade that will protect and empower online businesses in the global market. Under this agreement, companies and consumers can access and move data freely without facing arbitrary blocking of websites. Companies won’t have to build expensive and unnecessarily redundant data infrastructure in every market just because they want to sell there. Hate all the paperwork that accompanies doing global business today? TPP also promotes paperless trading—transitioning customs forms from paper to electronic format and providing for electronic authentication and signatures for consumer transactions.
This is also the first trade agreement ever to include a whole chapter dedicated to small business, addressing the chief obstacles so many business owners like you face in the global economy. Whether it’s burdensome customs regulations, the lack of efficient express delivery services or secure online payment options, differing regulatory regimes in foreign markets, or the slow delivery of small shipments, the TPP seeks to fix these issues by eliminating 18,000 taxes that various countries place on Made-in-America products, streamlining standards and technical regulations, strengthening intellectual property rights to fight counterfeiting and theft of your creative work, and more.
You can read these chapters and the rest of the TPP text here. If you do, I’m confident you’ll see why this trade deal will level the playing field for entrepreneurs like you and open up opportunity to expand in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
After all, small business—the business you’re doing right here on this platform—is propelling the American economy and our global economy forward. And the fact is that this deal can significantly impact the way you work and run your business.
So when you’re taking a look at the TPP, I hope you’ll take the time to dig into the details and see exactly how much it stands to help you and small business owners like you across the country.
Read the complete text right here.
Thank you – and happy selling.
President Barack Obama