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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Trade in South Carolina

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

In April 1670, families arriving at the confluence of the Ashley River and the Atlantic Ocean after a long journey from England founded the colony of Charles Towne. Over time, the colony blossomed into a center of Southern trade. Today, Charles Towne has become Charleston, South Carolina, both city and state continues to engage and trade with countries around the world.

Additionally, 3,575 South Carolina companies export products abroad, and over 80 percent of South Carolina exporters are small- or medium-sized enterprises. Those companies span the range of industrial opportunities - from a business in St. Matthews that sells cranes to Chile and Australia, to a company in Greenwood that sells pipes to global customers.

South Carolina's textile industry continues to do brisk business around the world. South Carolina's exports of textiles and apparel were over $400 million last year, and three-quarters of those exports were destined to our NAFTA and CAFTA partners.

However, South Carolina export opportunities are not limited to the manufacturing sector. In South Carolina, farmers exported over $650 million in agricultural products in 2008, supporting 7,600 agricultural industry jobs. As well, South Carolina workers are kept busy handling the more than 1,800 ships that pass through the state's ports each year. The Port of Charleston alone handles more than $62 billion in cargo annually.

During Ambassador Kirk's travels, he will visit a small sampling of South Carolina export-sector workers in Anderson, and will discuss opportunities for export growth with students at Clemson University, educators, businesses, and workers. For updates on his visit, please continue to check the blog.