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  • 08/26/2011 3:09 PM

    Naturipe Farms is one of a number of U.S. agricultural businesses entering the global market and seizing opportunities to export American-grown food.

    Naturipe Farms is a joint venture created by Michigan Blueberry Growers Marketing (MBG), Horifrut SA Naturipe Berry Growers (NBG) and Munger Farms. They saw an opportunity to form a partnership under a common brand and approaching the marketplace under a unified “One Voice” theme. By joining together the growers are able to provide smooth transitions of the multiple harvest seasons across the U.S and provide a consistent supply of berries to clients and consumers in the US and around the globe. Naturipe includes hundreds of berry farms in states across the country from Florida to Michigan to New Jersey and California to Washington. Berry farmers rely on Naturipe to market and export their strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, and blackberries to consumers, retailers and restaurants around the world.

    These farmers are working together to provide a consistent supply of fresh berries all year round by strategically streamlining their distribution of fresh berries to customers. Teamwork has allowed these individual agricultural businesses to gain a competitive advantage by delivering what retailers and other customers want. This includes consistency in food safety standards, packaging, delivery, better products at competitive prices, and most importantly, a reliable supply of fresh berries throughout the year without pause.

    “The ability to supply fresh berries throughout the year has significantly increased the consumption of berries throughout the world. We are seeing that more and more markets want to buy U.S. agricultural products because the ‘Made in America’ brand means high quality and trustworthy food standards,” says Naturipe’s VP of Marketing Robert Verloop. “Demand is growing, especially in the Asia-Pacific region in countries like Japan, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. As more international customers are coming across our fresh berries, and the reputation for better quality and standards of U.S.-grown fruit rises, the more demand rises as well.”

    USTR is working hard to open market access for farmers like Naturipe’s berry growers. The quality of U.S.-grown products has repeatedly proven to win over new customers overseas, and USTR wants to help lower tariffs and other trade barriers so that U.S. products can compete fairly in international markets. That’s why the Obama Administration is emphasizing the importance of export opportunities in our trade agreements to growing the economy.

    “Trade agreements can help us meet those demands with lower tariffs, and allow our farmers to increase their production and become more competitive.”

  • 08/26/2011 10:01 AM

    As the weekend approaches, USTR urges everyone on the East Coast to prepare for Hurricane Irene to visit for information on getting your home and family prepared, or visit for hurricane safety tips on the go. Be sure your family is prepared, and following the direction of local authorities, during this storm.

  • 08/24/2011 9:40 AM

    This week, the Textiles team at USTR is attending the MAGIC trade show in Nevada. MAGIC is the largest trade event for the textiles and apparel industry in the United States, convening thousands of business leaders in textiles, fashion and accessories twice a year to share planning and sourcing tools. The trade event kicked off in Las Vegas on Sunday and will wrap up today.

    This week at MAGIC, over 20 Haitian firms are showcasing garments from t-shirts to tuxedos at the “Sourcing in the Americas” Pavilion. Sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the “Made in Haiti” exhibit showcases the Plus One for Haiti program and the continued recovery and growth in the Haitian apparel industry. The Haitian companies are present along with other regional manufacturers in a series of events at the Pavilion designed to strengthen the textile and apparel supply chain in the Western Hemisphere.

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk launched the Plus One for Haiti program at last year’s February 2010 Magic convention in the wake of the devastating earthquake. As part of U.S. efforts to aid in Haiti’s economic recovery, this initiative encourages U.S. brands and retailers to work towards sourcing 1 percent of their total apparel purchases from Haiti.

    Following the launch of the Plus One program and the expansion of trade preferences for Haiti in early 2010, major investments have been announced in the Haitian apparel industry, including a new 623-acre textile industrial park that is estimated to support thousands of additional jobs once fully developed. The new industrial park will have a dedicated electricity plant, modernized port infrastructure, wastewater treatment, and factory shells. The industrial park is being built as a joint effort between the U.S. and Haitian governments and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB.)

    Apparel is a critical sector in Haiti’s developing economy. Exports of apparel make up roughly 85 percent of Haiti’s total exports to the U.S. In 2010, Haiti exported over $517 million in apparel goods to the U.S., and year to date 2011 exports have increased by 52 percent so far in 2011. Haiti’s textile manufacturing industry employs over 30,000 workers.

  • 08/23/2011 12:03 PM

    Foremost Farms USA, headquartered in Baraboo, Wis., is a farmer-owned cooperative and dairy processor. Their members’ farms are located in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. This cooperative manufactures raw milk into cheese, butter, and a variety of whey ingredients, a byproduct of cheesemaking. Foremost Farms’ Director of Communications & Brand Management, Joan Behr, attributes part of the cooperative’s success to unique advantages in this region of the world not often found elsewhere. Good weather and fertile land that produces forage and healthy grains to feed cattle, combined with a solid infrastructure, allow the dairy farms of this region to produce delicious and nutritious milk.

    In the last five years, Foremost Farms has noticed steady growth in demand for cheese, butter, and whey products – particularly pharmaceutical lactose -- from overseas buyers. Countries like Mexico, China, Japan, and other Asian countries value Foremost® whey products. Foremost Farms is also finding that its cheese is becoming increasingly popular in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Ms. Behr states that the cooperative has great hopes for future international sales as more people outside the U.S. are exposed to American foods and dairy products.

    “The U.S. dairy industry is certainly benefiting from increased global demand for our dairy products. As the world becomes more globally connected, people are accessing foods outside their culture,” said Ms. Behr. “As people are becoming acquainted with U.S. dairy products, they increasingly want to incorporate our products into their diets, which means these products must be accessible on supermarket shelves around the world on a reliable basis. Foremost is working to be a consistent supplier of dairy products not only domestically but internationally. This will allow us to be competitive in the world marketplace.”

    More export opportunities means market access for our farms here in the U.S. For example, Foremost Farms’ success abroad has allowed the company to modernize dairy plant operations, which in turn provides long-term market stability for their farmer-members.

    “Foremost Farms’ success depends on providing long-term market access for our farms. We realize that the growth of Foremost Farms will come from worldwide demand, so we are taking steps now to be the supplier that foreign buyers turn to for safe, quality products,” says Ms. Behr.

    Foremost Farms’ success is just one story that motivates USTR in our efforts to provide more export opportunities for America’s agricultural businesses. That’s why the Obama Administration launched the National Export Initiative, because exports are and will continue to be an important part of growing America’s economy.

  • 08/22/2011 5:12 PM

    This afternoon, United States Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis traveled to Savannah, Georgia to highlight the job-creating benefits of the pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Ambassador Marantis was welcomed to the port by Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson, as well as Georgia Ports Authority Chairman Alec Poitevint and Executive Director Curtis Foltz.

    Ambassador Marantis tours the Port of Savannah
    Ambassador Marantis tours the Port of Savannah with Georgia Ports Authority Chairman Alec Poitevint and Executive Director Curtis Foltz

    The Port of Savannah is the United States' fourth largest and a key port for U.S. exports like poultry, wood products, cotton, and other goods. Korea, Colombia, and Panama are all important destinations for exports and imports from Savannah. In fact, U.S. exports to Korea through Savannah's port grew 15 percent last year and surpassed Japan to become its second largest trading destination in Northeast Asia. Savannah's trade with Colombia grew by over 50 percent last year. The planned expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to further increase trade through the Port of Savannah.

    “We are here because Georgia makes a strong case for the benefits of trade and exports," said Ambassador Marantis. "The Port of Savannah is booming as we continue to increase exports to consumers around the world, creating jobs in Georgia and around the country. The pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama are sure to be a boon to the port and help it build on its impressive successes."

    Ambassador Marantis also emphasized USTR’s work on behalf of small- and medium-sized businesses. More than 85 percent of companies that export from Georgia employ fewer than 500 workers. To help these key job-creating businesses, each agreement includes strong transparency obligations, provisions that remove technical barriers, and customs and trade facilitation and will provide a positive economic benefit for businesses and workers throughout the Peach State.

  • 08/19/2011 1:59 PM

    After visiting Los Angeles and San Francisco as part of a three-day jobs tour, Ambassador Kirk traveled to Sacramento, California on Thursday to host an agriculture roundtable discussion with Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross. The roundtable focused around how the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia will benefit California’s workers, businesses and farms.

    Once the trade agreements are implemented, California producers will be able to export their American-grown products to these countries without tariffs on items such as cherries, raisins, grape juice, pistachios, almonds and wine. This will allow California’s agriculture companies to export more and support additional American jobs.

    The event took place at the Blue Diamond Growers facility after Ambassador Kirk was given a firsthand tour of the processing of almonds from delivery to shipping. Almond growers in California, like Blue Diamond, who grow and sell their products into commercial channels represent 90 percent of the California almond production. This year's forecasted total almond production in California is 1.95 billion pounds. This represents approximately 80 percent of the world's supply.

    California is, and has been, the nation’s top agricultural exporting state for more than 50 years. Producers in the Golden State exported an estimated $12.8 billion of agricultural goods last year. By opening new markets around the world, the Obama Administration and USTR continue to help American agricultural producers export more and support additional jobs here at home.

  • 08/17/2011 4:59 PM

    A small company in Denver, Colorado, capable of transporting cargo shipments of oversized freight and heavy machinery, is a perfect example of how the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama will help American businesses grow and prosper, while supporting tens of thousands of jobs here at home. As part of the vast services sector that helps support U.S. manufacturing, SR International acts as a travel agent for bulldozers. Specifically, it specializes in exporting American-made bulldozers, combine harvesters, and mining equipment to anywhere in the world.

    SR International Logistics supports various industries, including heavy construction, major defense contractors, infrastructure, gold and copper mining, power generation, and petrochemical/refineries. They then arrange transportation, documentation, customs clearance, and machinery dismantling and reassembling, while providing cheaper shipping rates for their clientele.

    Currently, about five percent of SR International’s export business goes to Panama and Colombia. However, U.S. heavy machinery manufacturers now face ten percent tariffs on products like bulldozers and combines. Once implemented, the trade agreements with these two countries will immediately eliminate barriers that currently hinder heavy machinery companies from exporting their products overseas.

    “I believe that any kind of assistance to my clients- particularly in the form of reduced tariffs- will enable us to increase the type of cargo that we move to these destinations,” said Russ Steele, Chief Executive Officer of SR International.

    According to SR International, there is currently significant demand for construction and mining machinery in Panama, as well as an agricultural need for heavy machinery in Colombia.

    “We are already working on increased marketing to Panama and Columbia because we feel that construction machinery will be in higher demand,” said Steele. “The trade agreements, once implemented, will have an impact on our business because heavy construction, mining, and agricultural machinery exports will likely drastically increase. I anticipate the need to hire additional employees if we were to find the right opportunity as a result of the new trade agreements.”

    As businesses like SR International continue to see an increase in demand for their products abroad, USTR is working to help increase opportunities for companies to export more. By opening markets through trade agreements and enforcement activities, USTR continues to help businesses sell more and support new, quality jobs for American workers here at home.

  • 08/15/2011 4:33 PM

    Ambassador Kirk traveled to El Paso, Texas today to give a keynote address at the 8th Annual Border Security Conference entitled ‘Fostering a New Era of U.S.-Mexico Collaboration to Meet 21st Century Challenges. The Office of Congressman Silvestre Reyes, the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district, in conjunction with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) hosted the event.

    As a major trade and transportation hub, El Paso facilitates the flow of U.S. exports that support well-paying jobs for workers and families in El Paso and surrounding communities. At the conference, Ambassador Kirk highlighted the important trade relationship between the United States and Mexico.

    “Here in Texas, it’s plain to see just how important trade with Mexico is. In 2009, the El Paso metropolitan region exported approximately $5.8 billion to Mexico, which comes to over $16 million daily. And there are the bridges over the Rio Grande, where steady caravans of cars, trucks, buses, and motorbikes carry some of the nearly one million people who cross the border in both directions every day.

    “Those facts and figures represent real benefits for Texas families. Because trade with Mexico, and in general, supports well-paying jobs here at home. For example, one out of every four manufacturing workers in Texas depends on exports for their jobs.”

    He also spoke about the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The agreements will help to increase Texas exports and support jobs and families in El Paso and surrounding communities.

    “Each agreement holds significant export opportunities for producers here in the Lone Star State, across a wide range of jobs and industries.

    “For example, Texas farmers and ranchers will benefit from the reduction and elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to agricultural trade contained in our trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. These agreements are critical to keeping American agricultural producers competitive in these valuable markets.

    “…Texas agricultural producers will be able to sell even more once the agreements enter into force and U.S. producers receive access to the Colombian and Panamanian markets on a more level playing field.”

    President Obama has called on Congress to pass the pending trade agreements and Trade Adjustment Assistance as soon as possible. While some details are still being worked out on sequencing and timing, the Administration has applauded Congress's progress toward a path forward for these important initiatives after lawmakers return in September.

    After his speech, Ambassador Kirk engaged in a dialogue with the audience on a variety of trade issues, including how USTR is working to open global markets to American businesses, and the increase of enforcement of our trade agreements to give U.S. exporters a level playing field.

    Tonight he will travel to Los Angeles, California to tour the Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday. Check back throughout the week for updates on Ambassador Kirk’s trip.

  • 08/12/2011 4:50 PM

    Last week, Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro led a delegation of U.S. officials to Santiago, Chile for the 7th meeting of the United States-Chile Free Trade Commission (FTC). While in Santiago, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla discussed small business issues with Brad Bodenhausen, Executive Vice President of the Springfield Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Through an American Business Fellow program in Chile, Bodenhausen has been conducting research to identify potential export opportunities to Chile for the 1700 mostly small- and medium-sized southwest Missouri businesses that the Springfield Chamber represents.

    “Based on the trade statistics and my meetings with U.S. companies successfully operating in Chile, I have noticed a few common themes. First, businesses with perhaps the greatest potential for success, including small business, are those that supply equipment, technology or innovation (i.e. problem-solving) to the leading industries in Chile. The five industries of primary focus should be mining, wine-making, salmon farming, agribusiness/food processing and forestry products,” said Bodenhausen.

    He highlighted specific export opportunities that could support jobs in Missouri and Iowa:

    “Missouri’s leading exports to Chile include grinding [instruments] used in the milling process and wood barrels used by Chilean wine-makers. Iowa exports excavators for the mining industry and other types of heavy machinery used in agriculture and construction.

    "A second area of opportunity exists for companies that are doing innovative things in the areas of energy and environmental stewardship…Energy production and consumption, water usage, industrial efficiency, and land use decision-making are some of the current challenges the country is debating. U.S. companies that have expertise in these areas, especially those that can help Chile’s industries operate in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way, will have opportunities to succeed here.”

    Bodenhausen also identified challenges for U.S. small businesses seeking to operate in Chile, such as finding local partners with industry expertise and networks, and competition from third countries such as China. During the FTC meetings, Ambassador Sapiro and Chilean officials discussed ways to overcome these challenges so that small- and medium-sized businesses can more easily take advantage of the benefits of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement.

    Already, trade between the U.S. and Chile has nearly tripled since the trade agreement entered into force in 2004, with bilateral trade in goods between our countries growing from more than $6 billion in 2003 to $18 billion in 2010.

    Building on this positive trend, USTR is working to help U.S. small businesses increase American exports to Chile in support of more jobs here at home.

  • 08/12/2011 10:19 AM

    On Thursday and Friday, August 11 and 12, Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis traveled to Manado, Indonesia to advance U.S. trade objectives in the Asia-Pacific during the annual meeting of the trade ministers of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Taken together, ASEAN is the 4th largest trading partner of the United States, with total two-way trade in 2010 approaching $178 billion.

    Ambassador Marantis began his visit a meeting with the ASEAN trade ministers to take stock of progress on initiatives under the 2011 Trade and Investment (TIFA) work plan, including trade facilitation, trade finance, trade and environment, and standards. They also discussed proposals for the work in 2012, including topics such as health care services and cloud computing, as well as plans to step up our government-to-business dialogue.

    Ambassador Marantis also held bilateral meetings with the trade ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam to discuss plans for the Trans-Pacific Partnership round in Chicago next month and to coordinate on how to achieve the goals the United States has set for APEC this year. In addition, he met bilaterally with Korea, Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia to discuss bilateral issues and APEC goals.

    Ambassador Marantis and Minister Emerson
    Ambassador Marantis and Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson

  • 08/09/2011 11:48 AM

    Ambassador Demetrios Marantis continued his discussions today in Hanoi with members of the new Vietnamese government. He met with Trade Minister Hoang and the two had the opportunity to discuss issues of particular interest to both countries in the TPP negotiations and ways to craft mutually-beneficial outcomes in those areas. They also discussed the need to work together to address concerns raised by the United States related to new measures put in place that are restricting trade and negatively affecting U.S. industrial and agricultural exporters and service suppliers. He also met with senior officials from the Ministry of Investment and Planning and the Ministry of Finance.

    Ambassador Marantis now heads to Manado, Indonesia, for a meeting with ASEAN Economic Ministers and bilateral meeting with ministers from ASEAN and other Asian countries.

  • 08/08/2011 3:39 PM

    Last week, Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro traveled to Santiago, Chile to chair the 7th meeting of the United States-Chile Free Trade Commission (FTC). The Commission is responsible for overseeing implementation and administration of the United States-Chile free trade agreement, to ensure that the benefits of the agreement are widely shared by both countries.

    Ambassador Sapiro Chairs the 7th meeting of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Commission
    Ambassador Sapiro Chairs the 7th meeting of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Commission

    Ambassador Sapiro participated in discussions covering a range of bilateral issues, including the agreement’s intellectual property rights obligations. The United States and Chile finalized an agreement to modify several rules of origin that will increase trade in certain products such as spices and spice mixtures, coffee, certain machinery and equipment, and lamps. These amendments will enter into force on November 1, 2011 and cover $1.4 billion in bilateral trade. The parties also held a morning session to explore ways in which small- and medium-sized businesses can take greater advantage of the agreement.

    Following the FTC meeting, Ambassador Sapiro addressed members of Chile American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), where she discussed the dynamic trading relationship between our two countries. Highlighting the Administration’s commitment to Chile and Latin America more broadly, she emphasized our desire not only to fully realize the benefits of the trade agreements, but to also look for ways to further enhance our relationship with our Latin American neighbors. Ambassador Sapiro also spoke at a lunch hosted by the members of the Chile-North American Interparliamentary Group at the Chilean Parliament building in the city of Valparaiso. At the lunch, she addressed a number of trade-related questions posed by the Chilean lawmakers, including the Presidents of the Senate and House chambers. Ambassador Sapiro then visited a winery owned by a U.S. investor, where she discussed growing trade opportunities in the wine industry.

    Trade between the U.S. and Chile has nearly tripled since the trade agreement entered into force in 2004, with bilateral trade in goods between our countries growing from more than $6 billion in 2003 to $18 billion in 2010. The Commission agreed to hold its next meeting in Washington, DC in 2012.

    You can read the draft joint statement of the meeting here.

  • 08/08/2011 12:16 PM

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis met with officials of the Vietnamese government in Hanoi today to discuss the U.S.-Vietnamese economic relationship, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and bilateral market access issues. Arriving shortly after the installation of the new government, Marantis was the first foreign official to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Phuc.

    Ambassador Marantis and Deputy Prime Minister Phuc
    Ambassador Marantis and Deputy Prime Minister Phuc

    The two discussed the new government's economic agenda, issues related to the TPP and plans for the next round of negotiations to be held in Chicago in early September, as well as specific concerns related to bilateral goods, agricultural and services trade. Marantis also met with senior officials from the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture. He will continue his meetings in Hanoi on Tuesday and then travel to the ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting in Manado, Indonesia on Wednesday.

  • 08/08/2011 9:38 AM

    As summer begins to wind down, Americans across the country are taking advantage of their backyards, local beaches, and parks for vacations and weekend trips- and likely purchasing equipment to more fully enjoy those activities. However, Americans aren’t the only ones who buy basic summer gear like beach balls, golf clubs, and fishing reels. All around the world people take time to enjoy the warm weather and the outdoors- and products manufactured in America help them do just that.

    Backyard Fun

    Yard games with family and friends can be a great way to spend long summer days. Last year the United States exported nearly $2 billion worth of outdoor games, which accounted for over a quarter of total U.S. sporting equipment exports. These include items like playground equipment, soccer balls, baseballs, basketballs, archery accessories, and lawn-tennis rackets, which are exported to our global trading partners.

    Teeing Off

    As many Americans find themselves on the green, participating in a great summer pastime, many more throughout the world are doing the same. In 2010 the United States exported more than half a billion dollars in golf clubs, balls, and accessories, making up a combined one-third of total U.S. sporting equipment exports.

    Beach Bound

    With the sand between your toes and a cooling mist in your face, the beach has always been a popular place for Americans to visit. People across the world agree. Last year, U.S. businesses exported nearly $300 million worth of beach equipment, including surfboards, sailboards, water-skis, and of course, beach balls. These sales accounted for ten percent of our nation’s total sporting goods exports.

    Increasing Summer Fun Equipment Exports

    However, tariffs as high as 20 percent currently pose a substantial hindrance to U.S. companies and their ability to reach foreign consumers. Luckily, upon implementation of the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, such roadblocks will be immediately eliminated or quickly phased out. These new agreements will provide a substantial opportunity for U.S. exporters to become increasingly pivotal providers of summer fun equipment.

    So, whether you’re teeing off, planting your beach umbrella in the sand, sitting lazily on a pier with a reel in your hands, or just enjoying some summer fun with family and friends, you can bet others around the world are doing the same, thanks in large part to the benefits of U.S. manufacturing and global trade.