By  on October 6, 2009

WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk unveiled a new agency initiative on Monday to help small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S.

The goal of the program is to assist companies in boosting their exports and grow jobs in the U.S., Kirk said. To kick off the effort, USTR formally requested Monday that the International Trade Commission, an independent, quasi-judicial agency responsible for monitoring trade, conduct a study of small and medium-sized businesses.

“Part of the reason we’re undertaking this initiative is, frankly, there’s a lot that we don’t know about these small businesses, their nature, whether they’re exporting to a single country and what we can do to assist them,” Kirk said. “We want to close that knowledge gap so that we can be of better service.”

USTR asked the ITC to generate three reports as part of the requested investigation. The first would be an overview of small and medium businesses’ participation in the U.S. export market and is due in three months. The second, due in nine months, would focus on comparing U.S. companies with those in other countries. The third report would focus on the service sector and is due in 12 months.

USTR will also launch an internal working group to help the agency ensure its policy-making and enforcement efforts better serve smaller business, defined as companies with less than 500 employees.

The information gleaned in the report will help USTR make many decisions about how it works with small and medium-sized businesses, including whether there should be more small business representation on government advisory committees, such as industry trade advisory committees, also known as ITACs, Kirk said. The Obama administration moved to ban lobbyists from participating in ITACs late last month, leaving the makeup of the advisory panels up in the air.

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