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Steve Chiotakis: The Small Business Administration is making the case for free trade today. It is holding a symposium on international trade. The group is trying to get Congress to pass free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Here's Nancy Marshall Genzer.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: The Small Business Administration says exports could help entrepreneurs survive the current economic downturn. There's just one catch:

Susan Aaronson: The downturn in the United States has spread to much of the middle income and developing world.

Susan Aaronson teaches business at George Washington University. She says some highly specialized small businesses may still be able to profit from exports.

Karen Saltus has. She and her husband own Quality Defense Spares. They make replacement parts for cars, trucks and military vehicles. Saltus says her biggest challenge has been funding for overseas deals.

Karen Saltus: You finally get that business and then you don't have the financing to pay for it, then you're out of business.

Saltus says she solved that problem through Small Business Administration loans. The free trade agreements would help the company streamline paperwork.

But Saltus isn't holding her breath. Their fate is uncertain in the lame-duck Congress. And President-elect Obama has reservations about them.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.