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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Trade in Virginia

In this Weekly Trade Spotlight, is looking into the importance of international exports in supporting and creating jobs in Virginia’s numerous and robust export sectors.

The “Commonwealth of Virginia” has boasted a lucrative export market since British colonization—by 1675 the colony had begun to export more than ten million pounds of tobacco to England each year. Three centuries later, Virginia’s agricultural success persists. The state exported $718 million in agricultural exports in 2009, with wheat, soybeans and soybean products, live animals, and pork, among the top export categories. By accessing markets abroad, Virginia’s agricultural producers were able to support an estimated 10,505 jobs in 2008 both on and off the farm.

Virginia’s exports are not limited to agricultural products. Of the $15 billion worth of exports from Virginia in 2009, $12.2 billion came from its strong manufacturing sector. One Leesburg firm specializing in Water Extraction and Purification Systems supports 70 percent of its employment through its exports to the dynamic Southeast Asia region.

Such companies are helping Old Dominion’s manufacturing sector flourish. In fact, Virginia’s exports of manufactured products grew by close to $2 billion between 2000 and 2009. Those increased exports keep Virginia’s businesses competitive and support good manufacturing jobs for Virginians.

In total, exports support more than a hundred thousand Virginia jobs. In 2008, an estimated 126,000 jobs were supported by Virginia’s goods exports—jobs that typically pay 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average wage. That is why USTR is committed to increasing export opportunities for Virginia workers and businesses.

Earlier this summer, President Obama requested that Ambassador Kirk accelerate negotiations of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement in time for the Group of 20 meeting this November. Completion of U.S.-Korea trade agreement is one initiative of USTR’s trade agenda that will directly benefit Virginians. In fact, the U.S.-Korea trade agreement may support as many as 70,000 jobs nationwide.

The U.S.-Korea trade agreement will enhance export opportunities for a range of Virginia’s industries—from broilers in Linville to paper mills in Norfolk. The U.S.-Korea trade agreement will eliminate tariffs on the agricultural products that mean the most to Virginians, such as poultry, wine, and soybeans. Over 90% of aircraft and related equipment, along with many other manufactured goods produced in Virginia, will enter Korea duty free. By opening new access to Korea’s $1 trillion economy, the U.S.-Korea trade agreement will enable Virginia’s farmers and manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace.