(Sept. 14, 2012) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Institute for Economic Development signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Brazil's economic development agency SEBRAE and the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) to formalize a working relationship and to usher in linking SEBRAE to SBDCGlobal.com, a website that connects SBDC clients with international trade opportunities. The MOU was signed at the Organization of American States (OAS) Conference in New Orleans on Sept. 11, 2012.
The agreement is a step forward in the United States-Brazil Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ATEC). Under the ATEC, the United States and Brazil have agreed to explore greater cooperation on a variety of issues including small businesses. At the first ATEC meeting hosted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in March 2012, the United States and Brazil discussed the potential for encouraging trade linkages between the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network in the United States and the Brazil SEBRAE network, working with interagency partners, universities and the private sector in order to expand mutual international trade opportunities for small businesses in both countries.
President Obama has noted "small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstone of our nation's promise." The same is true throughout the Western Hemisphere, where the small business sector plays a critical role in job creation and broad-based economic growth.
The Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA) will promote business development and entrepreneurship through micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) and encourage greater trade among these businesses throughout the hemisphere by promoting the expansion of the SBDC model in partner countries; connecting the more than 2,000 SBDCs and similar SME support centers throughout the hemisphere that already serve approximately two million small business clients; and promoting MSME trade through virtual trade platforms like SBDCglobal.com, which can help SBDCs and their small-business clients expand international partnerships.
UTSA President Ricardo Romo, SEBRAE President Luiz Barretto Filho and ASBDC President/CEO Charles "Tee" Rowe signed the agreement during a reception hosted by UTSA and the ASBDC. Honorary witnesses voicing their support included representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration, State Department, U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States and U.S. Trade Representative, as well as representatives from the Mexican Association of Small Business Development Centers (AMCDPE), the Central American economic development organization CENPROMYPE and the Caribbean Export Agency.
"We are very excited to be involved in this landmark agreement between economic development organizations in the U.S. and Brazil. This MOU is an important step toward making President Obama's Small Business Network of the Americas initiative a reality, and a step that can be replicated with other countries to further this initiative," said Robert McKinley, UTSA associate vice president for economic development.
Since 2003, the Institute for Economic Development together with the International Trade Center have led initiatives with 12 foreign countries to develop programs based on the proven US model of SBDC networks. These networks will be connected via SBDCGlobal.com to better facilitate hemispheric trade growth among small business sectors.
About the International Trade Center
The International Trade Center at UTSA is one of the largest and most successful trade assistance organizations in Texas. It helps companies become globally competitive through technical trade consulting, customized market research and innovative training programs. The center is a specialty SBDC program in the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network. Follow us on Twitter (@TexasTrade) and like us on Facebook.
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