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Designing a Trade Deal with Small Business in Mind

The CEO of a small greeting card company in Portland, Oregon shares why she is standing up for the President's trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Tess Darrow

In 1999, I left a design job to pursue my passion for letterpress printing and started a greeting card company, Egg Press. Letterpress is a centuries-old production printing process. It's a relief method of printing that leaves an impression in the paper that you can see and feel. Every piece is printed by hand at our studio in Portland, Oregon.

I take pride in the fact that our products are all made by us in America, and am proud to be part of a rich history of American manufacturing.

The creativity and care we put into each card is something customers look for – not just stores across the country, but in countries around the globe. Right now, we’re selling our Made-in-America designs on four different continents, in countries like Japan and Australia. For our business, it's a new frontier. In Japan alone, we estimate we could do half the volume we currently do in the U.S.

But getting our cards and products to our international customers is not easy. We’re a company of 20, and right now, the logistics of trading can make that new frontier feel daunting: unpredictable customs rules, confusing shipping logistics, and unreasonable duties applied at the border that can drive the prices up on our products and deter our customers.

A Printing Press in Action

It's common to hear at international trade shows that, though a customer wants to order, they won't take the risk of the unknown and unpredictable expense of duties and taxes, potentially making the retail price of each card more than the market can bear. And we have experienced many pitfalls in shipping internationally such as long delays in customs and packages returned for reasons our shipper could not explain, delivering a blow to our bottom line and our customers’ respect for our business. And with our customers, trust is everything.

These are the reasons I’m proud to support President Obama’s trade deal: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the most progressive trade deal in history. I'm looking forward to joining him when he visits the Nike campus to talk about what this deal will mean for world-renowned American businesses like Nike, and community-rooted American small businesses like mine.

Watch his remarks here:

Business is about much more than the bottom line. At my business,we choose to live our lives and do our jobs in an environmentally responsible way, generating a minimal amount of waste and using recycled materials as much as possible.

What we do should reflect what we value – and I know the President believes that too. 

Under his leadership, the Trans-Pacific Partnership puts in place the strongest environmental standards in history, ones that will combat wildlife trafficking and overfishing, decrease illegal logging, protect our oceans, and more.

I don't believe the President would sign a trade deal that doesn’t put America’s small business owners and workers first. This is the reason that I and several other Oregon business owners will be standing behind the President as he lays out a trade agenda that levels the playing field for American workers.

Click here to hear from other small business owners in Oregon who support the TPP.