September 20, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Agriculture and Industries, Department of

McMillan to Obama: Time is now to send the Free Trade Agreements to Congress

Click here for photos of today's press conference


September 20, 2011                                                         Contact: Brett Hall 334-318-6081


MONTGOMERY, Alabama—It’s time to strike while the issue is hot and now is the time for President Obama to send the Free Trade Agreements to Congress for ratification.


“The President says he’s serious about creating jobs. The Free Trade Agreements will create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, and without a bailout or a new federal bureaucracy,” said Commissioner John McMillan of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries.


As many as 15,000 good-paying jobs will come to Alabama as a result of ratification of three Free Trade Agreements, according to McMillan, who said that Alabama farmers and agribusinesses will directly benefit from the free trade legislation.


"International trade means jobs creation, especially for our farmers and agribusinesses in Alabama," said McMillan, commissioner for the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries. "Good-paying jobs for Alabama will result from open and free trade with the countries involved, South Korea, Panama and Colombia, as products from the region’s manufacturing and agribusiness industries are in demand in those markets."


McMillan noted the third agreement, with South Korea, was significant due to the investment Hyundai Corp. has made in Montgomery. "U.S. Commerce Department officials estimate 250,000 new American jobs would result from ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea," McMillan said. "Alabama is well positioned to benefit from expanded trade with South Korea, with whom we have good relationships."


To date, the Obama administration has yet to send the agreements to the U.S. Senate where they must be ratified by a two-thirds vote. "This should be a major part of the President's jobs creation plan, as trade opportunities don't require government subsidies or new programs to implement," McMillan explained.


Chances are good for ratification of all three agreements, according to Commerce Department officials. Obama recently sent his jobs package to Congress, yet failed to add the Free Trade Agreements. McMillan called on Alabama’s congressional delegation to urge the White House to send the FTA to them for ratification.



Facts to consider:


  • Foreign sales generate jobs. Every $1 billion in exports means 15,000 jobs for Alabama citizens, and 15% of all Alabama manufacturing sector workers depend on exports for their jobs.


  • The US-Korean FTA will make Alabama products more affordable to Korean consumers as more than half of Alabama exports there would be duty-free and tariff elimination for over 95% of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products within five years.
  • Colombia is Alabama’s 21st largest export market and the ratified trade agreement when reached mean that nearly 60% of Alabama export products will be duty-free.  Exports to Colombia of US goods are expected to increase by over $1.1 billion when the FTA is enacted.
  • Finally, upon enactment of the trade agreement with Panama, 88% of goods exported to their markets will be duty-free. Panama is one of the fastest-growing economies in Central America, set to grow 8.5 percent this year and for the next four years.
  • We must avail ourselves of our proximity to these, and other emerging Latin American markets which represent the fastest-growing export zone. We export three times as much to Latin America as to China.
  • Alabama faces a unique opportunity to transform its economy by becoming a leader in exports of agricultural and consumer products, logistics, service and export-oriented manufacturing activities.



Brett C. Hall

Deputy Commissioner

Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries

1445 Federal Drive

Montgomery, Alabama  36107

334-240-7101- Cell: 334-318-6081



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