Trade Pacts Boost Georgia Port Potential
Sunday, October 16th, 2011
Coastal Georgia's delegation to Washington is praising passage of free trade agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia.
The agreements open numerous doors of opportunity to Georgia businesses and stand to increase port traffic, they say.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston says the pact paves the way for a $13 billion boost in exports to the countries and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.
Kingston voted in favor of the agreements.
"From our world-famous Vidalia onions to chemicals, machinery to cotton, and carpets to boats, exports are big in Georgia," Kingston said. "Last year, Georgia exported $28.9 billion worth of goods and exports supported more than 82,000 jobs.
"These free trade agreements will create new opportunities, expand market access and level the playing field for Georgians. Together they will be a much-needed shot in the arm and will empower businesses to create jobs."
Kingston said Georgia already maintains beneficial trade relationships with the three countries. In 2010 it exported more than $1.1 billion to the three.
Reducing tariffs on Georgian goods stands to lift the relationship to higher ground and boost the state's economy dramatically if past free trade agreements are an indication, he said.
Since ratification of the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement in 2004, Georgia's exports to the country increased by 204 percentm he noted. A similar agreement passed that same year with Chile that led to 158 percent expansion in exports.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also supported the trade agreements.
"These three free trade agreements are good examples of solutions that will boost the economy and put Americans back to work without adding to our enormous national debt," Isakson said.
Isakson said President Barack Obama waited until last week to submit the free trade agreements to Congress for approval, even though they have been ready to send to Congress for three years.
Zippy Duvall, president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, says the impact on state agriculture will be tremendous. The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has an estimate.
"USDA estimates that exports from Georgia alone will increase nearly $45 million annually," Duvall said.
John Chambers, chairman and chief executive officer of JCB, a heavy equipment manufacturer in Savannah, says the agreement will benefit more than just agriculture. He said he sees national and local implications for manufacturers as well.
The Brunswick News