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Small firms to get help with exports

– Seeking to boost exports, the Obama administration is launching a new initiative aimed at helping small- and medium-sized businesses sell their products in new markets overseas.

The effort, which was announced last week by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, focuses in part on helping business get capital in a lending market that remains tight and streamlining federal export requirements to make it faster and cheaper for companies to send their goods overseas.

President Barack Obama has made increasing U.S. exports a key part of his economic agenda, with some success.

Pritzker said that success for her would simply be “American businesses waking up and realizing that 95 percent of customers are outside the United States.”

The Commerce Department says despite overhaul exports being up, less than 5 percent of U.S. companies are selling their products overseas and more than half of those are only selling to one market.

Pritzker said one roadblock for some companies is access to export financing. Under the administration’s new initiatives, the government is forming partnerships with groups, including the Finance, Credit and International Business Association, to help business get more federally backed loans, loan guarantees and insurance.

The administration is also seeking to streamline the process companies have to go through in order to export their goods. That process is expected to be completed in 2016.