September 30, 2011

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

McMillan says chances now good for trade pact, bringing jobs to the Wire Grass

                                                                                                       Contact: Brett Hall 334-318-6081


HEADLAND, Alabama . . . As many as 15,000 well paying jobs could come to Alabama, including the Wire Grass, with ratification of the Free Trade Agreements, according Commissioner John McMillan of Alabama’s Department of Agriculture & Industries.


“After languishing for several months as President Obama and Congress wrangled over details, it appears Obama will finally send the Free Trade Agreements to Congress, where chances for ratification are good,” McMillan told a group of Wire Grass farmers and business owners.


McMillan said trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia would yield tremendous economic benefits for Wire Grass agriculture and agribusiness interests. “Alabama-grown peanuts are in great demand in South Korea where high tariffs of as much as 500% on American agriculture products currently make our peanuts prohibitive in price,” McMillan added.


Government economists warn that if Congress fails to ratify the trade agreements, U.S. businesses stand to lose 380,000 jobs. But, it FTA does pass, there will be a net gain of 350,000 jobs.


"The stakes are too high, and everyone, especially farmers and agribusiness in Alabama, has an obligation to do everything they can to assure ratification of these agreements," McMillan said. "Make no mistake: we need these jobs."


Specifically important to North Alabama and the Tennessee Valley region, the Free Trade Agreements will open up foreign market opportunities for exporting cotton, whose prices now are at 150-year highs. The same goes for poultry, beef, corn and soybeans, all of which North Alabama farmers produce in abundance.



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.

·         2nd Congressional District Export Data:

             $2 billion total exports from District

             4900-plus jobs directly supported by exports

             69 exporting companies in District


Note:  Transportation/manufacturing, processed food and forestry products           biggest exports by industry sector in that order.


·         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.


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Brett C. Hall

Deputy Commissioner

Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries

1445 Federal Drive

Montgomery, Alabama  36107



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