Small to medium-sized U.S. businesses, especially those already involved in the global marketplace, view international trade as a boon to the U.S. economy, according to a new survey released yesterday that was commissioned by FedEx Corp. and conducted by research firm Morning Consult LLC.
According to the "FedEx Trade Index," about 77 percent of more than 1,000 respondents said they view trade expansion in a positive light, while 90 percent of those who already trade internationally have a positive perception. About 71 percent said that global trade helps the U.S. economy, while 69 percent said that it would create more U.S. jobs.
About 65 percent of small businesses that engage in international trade report increases in revenue, compared with 46 percent of small businesses that do not trade, according to the survey. Small businesses that trade are also 20 percent more likely to say they are hiring more employees.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, small business leaders are more likely to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, or TPP, than registered U.S. voters. Nearly half of small business leaders surveyed support TPP, according to the survey. That's more than twice the number of respondents who said they oppose it. About two-thirds of respondents that engage in trade support it.
The TPP, a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations but excluding China, was signed in February. The agreement will be enforced if all nations ratify it within two years. If the agreement isn't unanimously ratified, it will take effect on Feb. 4, 2018, if it is ratified by at least six nations that together account for 85 percent of the combined GDP of all 12.
The TPP has become a very controversial subject in the U.S., especially in a Presidential election year where both major party candidates have said they would oppose the agreement on grounds that it would put the economy and workers at a disadvantage.
Global transport and logistics firms like Memphis-based FedEx benefit significantly from an increase in global trade activity.
According to April data from the International Trade Administration (ITA), an agency of the Commerce Department, more than 304,000 U.S. businesses exported products in 2014, the latest year for which data sets were available. That is down slightly from 2013, but up 10 percent since 2009, ITA said. Nearly 98 percent of these companies were considered small to medium-sized, with fewer than 500 employees—the same employee size of respondents to the FedEx survey.
Small to mid-size businesses make up 99.7 percent of all U.S. companies and employ about half of all private sector employees, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).