Minority business groups backing Asia-Pacific trade deal

A trio of minority business groups said Tuesday that they will support a sweeping Pacific Rim trade agreement.

In a letter to congressional leadership, the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Black Chambers and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce all expressed strong support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a far-reaching deal between the United States and 11 other nations.

The groups underscored the vital role that minority-owned firms play in the U.S. exporting framework and how the TPP will further boost their growth and increase jobs while lowering prices for U.S. consumers. 

Ron Busby, president & CEO of U.S. Black Chambers, said that "black business owners are the fastest growing segment in the small business community" and that the TPP is needed to gain broader access to foreign markets and suppliers that will play a "critical part of black business expansion in the global marketplace."

There are 8 million minority-owned firms in the United States, an increase of 38 percent since 2007, the three business leaders noted in the letter.

“Minority firms are often at the vanguard of U.S. entry into markets,” they wrote.

“In order to continue growing, these companies must gain more access to foreign markets and suppliers — making TPP important now, more than ever, for minority business owners,” they added.

Minority businesses are six-times more likely to conduct business in a language other than English, have cultural or familial ties that can help boost U.S. investments in foreign countries and usually focus their exports in various high-value industries such as finance, professional services and technical services, the business leaders said. 

Sach Takayasu, the Asian/Pacific Islander Chamber's president and CEO, said that "many Asian Americans maintain strong business and personal ties to nations included in the proposed TPP."

Vietnamese-American firms derive 7.5 percent of their revenue from exports to Vietnam, which is 30-times greater than firms that are not chamber members, Takayasu said. 

"Many of these entrepreneurs would welcome the opportunity to grow their businesses through trade and export opportunities with the TPP countries," she added. 

Trade ministers from the 12 nations will sign the TPP on Wednesday evening — 5:30 p.m. EST — in Auckland, New Zealand.

While the White House and other supportive groups are ramping up their lobbying efforts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRubio: GOP Congress could go in different direction than Trump Pelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Reid: Groping accusations show Trump’s ‘sickness’ MORE (R-Ky.) has said that the TPP deal probably won't come up for a vote until after the November elections.

The minority business groups also touted the TPP’s chapter that addresses the trade practices of small- and medium-sized firms.

"This is in addition to broader commitments such as reducing customs paperwork and wait times at borders, which will benefit firms of all sizes but disproportionately impact small and medium-sized businesses,” they wrote. 

Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber, said his group is "committed to helping our membership of Hispanic entrepreneurs — as well as all American businesses — make the most of TPP, which will help level the playing field in foreign markets, make it easier for small businesses to sell their goods, increase competition and create opportunities for entrepreneurs to expand operations at home and abroad."

The TPP can help minority-owned and other U.S. firms by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers, strengthening trade enforcement rules and implementing a U.S.-driven, rules-based system of trade across the region, the groups wrote in the letter. 

“With the implementation of TPP, American businesses will have a more level playing field and expanded access to a growing class of consumers of over 485 million in the TPP countries alone,” they added.

"This access will help businesses expand their workforces, while also lowering the price of many goods for Americans.