About the Issue

Customs Relief and Free Trade Means Big Savings for Small Business, and Greater Access to Global Markets

The rules governing global trade were developed before the Internet was even invented; as a result, these rules simply aren’t meant to accommodate web-enabled retailers. Although a variety of trade policies discriminate against small businesses, the most important of these are customs rules that create disproportionate, costly, and time-consuming burdens for any retailer looking to serve customers in other countries. In addition, larger trade issues - such as proposed multinational trade agreements - will help give small e-retailers greater access to more customers around the globe.

As Congress addresses trade-related issues, it’s critical that any changes benefit small e-retailers - not just big business.

Small E-Retailers are Big Exporters

According to one recent study, the vast majority of small e-retailers exports to other countries. Moreover, according to the study the average e-retailer doesn’t just sell to one or two countries - on average they reach customers in nineteen countries.

Customs Relief Saves Small E-Retailers Money Under current law, any good imported to the U.S. and valued at $200 or more is subject to customs duties. For small e-tailers, this means that if a customer returns a package valued at more than $200, they are subject to a dizzying and costly amount of red tape. Raising that from $200 to $800, as many in Congress support, would ease the burden on small sellers and importers. Just as importantly, it would encourage other countries to follow suit, making it easier for small e-retailers to export to customers around the world.

Trade Promotion Authority Boosts Small E-Retailers

Trade Promotion Authority has historically been enacted with bipartisan support, and the conversation around that issue largely centers on the benefits of trade for traditional large exporters. However, TPA also benefits small American e-retailers; if passed, bipartisan TPA legislation will empower U.S. negotiators to encourage global trading partners to open their markets, particularly through raising low-value customs thresholds, benefitting e-retailers regardless of size.

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