COVID-19 relief options and additional resources

USMCA Paves Way for American Small Businesses to Better Compete Globally

Dedicated small business chapter is a first for U.S. trade agreement
Release Date: 
Thursday, January 16, 2020

CHICAGO – The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which includes specific protections for small- and medium-sized businesses, was approved by the U.S. Congress on Jan. 16. The Agreement passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan 385-41 vote on December 19, 2019. The U.S. Senate approved the Agreement today and it now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The U.S. will be the second country to ratify the USMCA (Mexico already has); all three countries will need to ratify the Agreement for it to take effect.

“Today’s passage of USMCA is a win for American small businesses and the nation’s economy,” U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza said. “USMCA includes the first-ever chapter dedicated to small business and will enforce new intellectual property provisions, bolster innovation, and support small businesses engaging in digital trade. Additionally, USMCA removes burdensome regulations, reduces duplicative red tape, and lowers costs that will help the 30 million U.S. small businesses that employ half the private-sector workforce and create 2/3 of all new jobs, to better compete globally. President Trump continues to follow through on his commitment to modernize and implement free and fair-trade agreements that greatly benefit our nation. This is another example of the President’s insight into our economy and his unwavering support of U.S. small businesses.”

The USMCA’s dedicated Small and Medium Enterprise chapter, which is a first for any U.S. trade agreement establishes a committee on SME issues comprised of government officials from each country. Additional provisions simplify customs and trade rules and reduce barriers and costs small businesses have faced. The USMCA specifically:

  • Cuts red tape at the border and encourages small business consideration when regulations are in development and implemented
  • Supports the 21st century economy with strong digital trade detail supporting internet-enabled small businesses and e-commerce exports
  • Promotes small business participation in government procurement, offering another way to grow their customer base and expand
  • Protects innovators’ intellectual property
  • Eliminates local presence requirements for cross-border service providers, benefitting small businesses by removing the burden of opening a foreign office to do business

“The USMCA follows on President Trump’s priority to put America first and its strong protections specific to small businesses – job creators that represent over 99% of U.S. businesses – level the playing field and unlock opportunities for those that have yet to tap foreign markets,” added SBA’s Great Lakes Regional Administrator Rob Scott. “It will support thousands of new jobs, notably in the automotive, manufacturing and agriculture sectors which are key industries here in this region.”

Small businesses represent approximately 98% of all exporting firms nationally, with roughly 82,000 small businesses exporting to Canada and 53,000 exporting to Mexico. In the Great Lakes Region, which includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, 87% of the businesses that export are small and amount to more than 68,000 total. Further, the region’s total annual receipts for exports to Canada and Mexico exceed $128 billion.

With two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power in foreign countries, expanding markets through trade is one strategy for small businesses to generate and sustain business and economic growth. In FY 19, the SBA helped approximately 900 small businesses that export by backing more than a total of $1 billion in loans to them. Via SBA’s assistance, small businesses can more easily find their next customers in Canada and Mexico and every corner of the world.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit