An Emerging Revolution in Global Trade

Brian Bieron, Executive Director eBay Public Policy Lab

Editor's Note: Also see a detailed infographic found at the end of this story.

The first words spoken over a telephone were reportedly “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”  It doesn’t sound like much, but telephones revolutionized communications and eventually changed the world.  Today, the eBay Public Policy Lab is releasing a report that reveals the fact that “over 190,000 US-based small businesses and entrepreneurs were global exporters on the eBay Marketplace in 2014.”  This simple statement also points to forces that can change the world.

The 2015 U.S. Small Business Global Growth Report discloses eBay-based data that shows how technology-enabled small businesses across America are engaging directly in global trade at rates that utterly transform traditional concepts of globalization.

eBay is enabling this revolutionary global business model – a model where small businesses are operating across geographic borders, regardless of size. Thereport shows that this new model is having a positive impact on small businesses and we hear this from sellers like Fred Krause everyday. “The Internet has allowed us to have the entire world as our marketplace,” says Krause who owns Michigan based ATR Computers, Inc.

We are excited to be at the center of this transformation in globalization. We are helping drive it, measure it, and enable it as we continue to build a fair and open marketplace.

Report Highlights

To quickly hit the highlights, the 2015 US Small Business Global Growth Report for the US marketplace shows that 95% of the US “commercial sellers on eBay (in this report, those are any seller with greater than $10,000 in sales in a year) are exporting.  Compare that to fewer than 5% of traditional small businesses who are exporting.  Talk about a “man-bites-dog” story.

And when you think about whether these technology-enabled small enterprises have truly global reach, consider this fact: 190,038 US-based small businesses each did business in 2014 with customers on at least four continents!  That is truly global trade.

Finally, it appears that this inclusive trade model can pay dividends on core economic concerns like growth and jobs.  The report reveals that while the average four-year growth rate of the small business exporters on the site was impressive, the small businesses that exported more, in this case more than half their sales, grew meaningfully faster than those who exported less than half their overall sales.

Taking Action

The 2015 US Small Business Global Growth Report shows that Internet and mobile technologies are in fact changing global trade by opening up new export opportunities to smaller enterprises and entrepreneurs.  We now live in a world where every business, no matter how small, even down to the level of an enterprising individual, can trade directly on a global scale.

This is the first time in history where that kind of global trade is possible.eBay is helping to drive a more inclusive global trade model so small business pioneers like Fred Krause can extend the reach and scale of their businesses. As champions of small business, we not only provide the technology to overcome trade barriers, we continue to advocate for trade policy reforms that will open more global opportunities, and thus spark economic change around the world.  

Additional Resources:

eBay U.S. Small Business Global Growth Report

See a detailed infographic below: