A vast majority of small- and medium-sized business (SMB) leaders in the U.S. believe trade is essential to growing and expanding the U.S. economy (88 percent) and growing jobs (85 percent), according to a study by FedEx.

The Small Business Trade Index, released by FedEx, is based on a survey of SMB leaders conducted by Morning Consult between February 14 and 24, 2024. "The poll was conducted among small business decision makers, which are defined as those who work for companies with less than 500 employees and hold a position of manager or higher. 1,007 SMB decision makers were interviewed in the U.S. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points."

Raj Subramaniam, President and CEO, FedEx Corporation says: "Trade opens new markets for businesses of all sizes and offers opportunities for engagement at a time when connectivity is needed most. Policymakers must reprioritise ambitious trade agreements so U.S. businesses can compete around the world, access new customers, and set the rules for fair and smart supply chains that connect the global marketplace."

More than two-thirds of U.S. SMB leaders rely on imported goods for production or as merchandise to distribute domestically, the report added. "These businesses report they export products that utilise imported materials, and 82 percent say the ability to import products or components from overseas directly supports jobs within their company. The majority of SMB leaders believe expanding trade to customers in other countries is a good thing with approximately nine in 10 identifying that the most important countries to maintain trade with are Japan, United Kingdom and China."

More than nine in 10 report e-commerce platforms have been key to facilitating global trade, which has been an important growth driver of their business (86 percent).

The Trade Index also confirmed that U.S. small business decision makers face additional challenges with the majority reporting shipping delays or disruptions due to geopolitical issues as a main barrier (84 percent). "Trade policies such as de minimis streamline trade paperwork processes by exempting low-value goods from customs duties and/or taxes. More than eight in 10 U.S. small business leaders say that eliminating de minimis would have an adverse impact on their operations."

A majority of business leaders recognise the importance of retraining or re-skilling individuals impacted by increased trade. An overwhelming majority (95 percent) support prioritising job retraining and upgrading skills among workers to help the U.S. compete globally.

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