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Trading Up?

Free trade deals offer a world of possibility for entrepreneurs.

By Joshua Kurlantzick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

After this fall's collapse of World Trade Organization (WTO)global trade liberalization talks, businesspeople worried thatprogress on trade was stalled. But the Bush administration haspushed forward with a raft of bilateral trade deals. Recently, thegovernment has signed free trade deals with Chile, Morocco,Singapore and four Central American nations. Free trade agreementswith Australia, Bahrain, Thailand and a bloc of southern Africannations are also in the works. These deals slash nearly all tariffsand other trade barriers.

These deals help small businesses more than large companies,economists say, because many entrepreneurs don't have theresources to compete in a more closed foreign economy. And eachcountry offers entrepreneurs specific opportunities. Australia andother Southeast nations are poised for strong economic growth in2004, making them prime consumers of U.S. goods, says WalterLohman, executive director of the US-ASEAN Business Council, a trade group.

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