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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Trade in Florida

This week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk is traveling in Florida. This Weekly Trade Spotlight focuses on the how trade can help support well-paying jobs in the Sunshine State.

From Milton to Miami, hard-working Floridians are benefitting from the job creating opportunities that trade has brought them. In the agricultural sector alone, over 20,000 jobs have been created to support international demand for Florida citrus, sugar and other agricultural commodities. And over 10 percent of jobs in the Florida manufacturing sector have been created thanks to trade. In 2008, more than $54 billion dollars of goods were exported from Florida - making it the fifth highest exporting state in the nation.

In 2007, nearly 29,000 businesses located in Florida exported their products overseas. Over 95 percent of these businesses are small- and medium-sized enterprises consisting over 500 of fewer employees. For hard-working Floridians, this figure indicates tremendous potential for more opportunities. Across America, small- and medium-sized enterprises have been a driving force in job creation.

Over the past 20 years, small- and medium-sized enterprises have accounted for 65 percent of all new private sector jobs created in the United States. Companies like a Fort Lauderdale computer equipment manufacturer have created new jobs for more workers by finding new markets - such as Southeast Asia - for their hardware.

Further north, a Vero Beach company is benefitting from the abundance of citrus grown throughout the region by exporting delectable oranges and grapefruits to countries in Latin America and Europe. Other companies in the Sunshine State have expanded their businesses and supported jobs for Floridians by exporting innovative technologies ranging from green energy sources to bio-technology.

Florida's seaports are busy every day handling goods such as textiles and machinery from countries ranging from Morocco to the Malaysia. The Florida Ports Council recognizes 14 major ports throughout the state - from Tampa to Jacksonville and Pensacola, trade is thriving in Florida. At Port Everglades, over 156,000 jobs have been created to support the function of the movement of goods, generating nearly $18 billion in economic value for the state of Florida. A high percentage of Floridian exports, such as aerospace technology, manufactured goods in addition to agricultural products reach Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, Mexico, and Colombia accounting for a total of $17.7 billion dollars worth of exported goods in both North and South America.

Foreign investment is also an essential component to Florida's economy. Nearly 250,000 Florida workers were employed thanks to foreign investment in Florida and its workers.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative is working to ensure that Floridian families and businesses benefit from trade. Trade has the potential to create new, higher paying jobs and make goods such as groceries and school supplies cheaper for everyone. It is through the expansion of these opportunities that Florida residents can, and will, continue to benefit from trade.