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Free Trade Agreements: What You Should Know for Your Small Business Exports

Free Trade Agreements: What You Should Know for Your Small Business Exports

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: May 19, 2014 Updated: September 26, 2016

Interested in exporting your small business’s goods or services outside the United States? Have you heard of free-trade agreements? Here’s what you should know about how they can benefit you in the exporting process.

What is a free-trade agreement?

A free-trade agreement, or FTA, is an agreement between two or more countries where the countries agree to take steps to make trade between the countries’ businesses easier and faster.  FTAs reduce trade tariffs and non-tariff barriers, such as import quotas, and also cover protections for investors and intellectual property rights.

For the United States, the main goals of trade agreements are to:

  • Reduce barriers to U.S. exports
  • Protect U.S. interests competing abroad
  • Enhance the rule of law in the FTA partner country or countries

Ultimately, it’s easier and cheaper for U.S. companies to export to these trading partner markets, because  FTAs help create a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment, which reduces risks for you as a small-business exporter.

With which countries does the U.S. have an FTA?

As of January 1, 2014, the United States has 14 FTAs in force with 20 countries:

  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • DR-CAFTA: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, & Nicaragua
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Korea
  • Morocco
  • NAFTA: Canada & Mexico
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Singapore

Other benefits of FTAs

Some other kinds of benefits often found in FTAs are:

  • The ability for a U.S. company to bid on certain government contracting opportunities in the FTA partner country
  • The ability for a U.S. investor to get prompt, adequate and effective compensation if its investment in the FTA partner country is taken away by the government
  • The ability for U.S. service suppliers to supply their services in the FTA partner country
  • Protection and enforcement of American-owned intellectual property rights in the FTA partner country
  • The ability for U.S. exporters to participate in the development of product standards in the FTA partner country

Learn more at and find out what else you should know about exporting by exploring the resources below!

Related Resources

About the Author:

Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at!