WASHINGTON, DC – Today at the Embassy of New Zealand, the Global Innovation Forum (GIF), a project of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Foundation, co-hosted a luncheon for ambassadors from countries participating in the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, members of the press, and trade officials to discuss the role public policies can play in streamlining trade for startups and small businesses. The discussion was anchored by a recently-released report by GIF, “The New Faces of Transpacific Trade,” which profiles 23 entrepreneurs from across the 12 TPP nations and highlights the opportunities and challenges of global markets, and the role of public policy in enabling their success.

Ambassador Tim Groser of New Zealand emphasized the importance of the impact TPP can have on the 12 economies represented in the agreement: “This is an occasion where we are focusing on the substance of the agreement and the huge benefits that we believe we can bring to our small and medium-sized enterprises both in my own country…and in the number one economy in the world, and all the others represented” in the TPP.

Two of the entrepreneurs featured in the report, Angie Judge, founder and CEO of Dexibit and Kavita Shukla, founder and CEO of Fenugreen, kicked off the luncheon by telling their stories about founding their businesses and the opportunities and challenges of the global marketplace.

“Overcoming cultural differences and language barriers is tough enough, and the complexities and expense of trying to register your business or open up a bank account in another part of the world can be really difficult, especially from afar,” Judge told participants.

Shukla highlighted how her global journey began by accident, as she unintentionally clicked a button on her e-commerce storefront that opened her business to global customers, and spoke about the shipping, logistics, customs and payments challenges her team has faced along the way.

Acting Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce Ken Hyatt provided keynote remarks for the discussion, noting that the TPP aims to address many of the challenges that small businesses face.  He noted that TPP contains a specific chapter focused on enabling small and medium-sized businesses as well as provisions throughout the agreement focused on trade facilitation, customs enhancements and effective protection of intellectual property rights including trade secrets.

Hyatt added, “This agreement is more than simply an agreement to help companies export. This is also an extraordinary opportunity for 12 very diverse countries to deepen our connections and set standards on how we want trade to work in the 21st century.”

The event also featured remarks by Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States, Pham Quang Vinh, Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States, Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, Leslie Griffin, Senior Vice President, International Public Policy at UPS, and Rufus Yerxa, President of the National Foreign Trade Council.  Jake Colvin, Executive Director of the Global Innovation Forum, moderated the discussion.

The luncheon closed with a Q&A from journalists, who asked about the prospects for passing TPP in the United States.

Yerxa, NFTC’s President and a former deputy U.S. trade representative, suggested that there’s still a chance the agreement will pass the U.S. Congress this year. “If we simply begin to say, ‘Oh well, it looks like it’s not going to pass so we ought to start to rethink’ … that would be obviously the wrong thing to be doing now.”

For more information, contact Kaveri Marathe, kaveri@globalinnovationforum.com.