Skip to Content

Resource Center

Grocery Manufacturers Association's Pamela Bailey: Selling American Grown Food Globally Supports Jobs

Pamela G. Bailey is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  She is also a member of President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.  Pamela shares how American agriculture exports support American jobs, both on and the farm. 

The United States is home to many of the world’s favorite food and beverage brands. Our food and beverage industry is a critical component of the U.S. economy, employing 1.7 million Americans in more than 30,000 communities, representing 14 percent of all our nation’s manufacturing jobs.

The more than 300,000 products manufactured in these U.S. plants are sold every day in American grocery stores and exported to consumers around the world. Global demand is so great for these American brands that our food and beverage industry is one of a few sectors that exports more products than it imports. Each year we make and export more than $50 billion worth of goods to more than 200 countries.

As we focus on restoring economic growth in the U.S., there is no denying the reality that 90 percent of the world’s economic growth is generated outside the U.S. Meeting the needs of consumers in global markets presents opportunities for new American jobs. With the global economy strengthening, the food and beverage industry has an opportunity to create more jobs in the U.S. by selling even more of our products to consumers worldwide. There are billions of consumers outside the U.S. who want better access to American goods at affordable prices.

This is why it is so important that we ratify the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Last year alone we exported more than $2 billion worth of food and beverage products to those three countries combined. The pending trade agreements can make it possible for us to export even more, resulting in more U.S. jobs as we increase manufacturing to meet increased demand.

While we have been debating these agreements, our nation’s economic competitors have been hard at work negotiating their own agreements with our trading partners.

For example, when a new European Union (EU)-South Korea trade agreement takes effect July 1, American products will immediately be put at a tariff disadvantage. Similarly, new Colombia-EU and Colombia-Canada trade agreements risk displacing U.S. food and beverage products now being sold to Colombia by those produced in Canada and Europe.

Unless our trade agreements are approved, the U.S. could face fewer fruit and vegetable export opportunities to Korea, Colombia and Panama as well as see a reduction in the export of dairy products and snack foods. Likewise, Colombia and Panama represent strong growth opportunities for American manufacturers. U.S. trade agreements with these countries can preserve and expand American exports of consumer goods, such as food products, shaving cream, shampoo, and perfumes. The bottom line for American companies is that they should be given the opportunity to export the same products to Korea, Colombia, and Panama that companies based in the EU and Canada do. And they should all be subject to the same rules and tariff structure.

Given the complex nature of the global economy and the competition American companies and their products face in overseas markets, free and fair trade is critical for U.S. job growth and a stronger economy. That is why President Obama has called for a doubling of exports in the next five years. American companies can grow, more American workers can have jobs, and consumers around the world can have greater access to safe and affordable products made in America.