April 3, 2012 – Virginia’s agricultural products can be found in practically every corner of the world. Still, foreign diplomats who spoke at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade in Richmond on March 13 and 14 said they are eager to import even more.
“I’m extremely happy to participate in this conference,” said Gheewham Kim, Minister for Economic Affairs and Embassy of the Republic of Korea. He said two-thirds of U.S. farm products to Korea became duty free and expects that figure to increase to more than 95 percent within five years.
He applauded Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for his efforts to encourage Congressional members to pass the long-pending free trade agreements (FTA) with Korea, Panama, and Colombia (KORUS). “The Virginia agriculture industry, in particular, stands to benefit immensely from the KORUS FTA,” Kim said, noting the commonwealth’s wine, poultry and pork markets.
New Zealand was also represented at the conference.
There is more to New Zealand than its animals with their thick coats of fleece, said Terry Meikle, first secretary of Trade and Agriculture with the Embassy of New Zealand.
Yes, he’s talking about sheep. New Zealand has 60,000 farms that cover 55,00 square-miles. In addition to the country’s 31 million sheep, it has four million beef cattle, six million dairy cattle and one million deer. Its horticultural crops include wine grapes, kiwi and apples.
Well into its second decade of subsidy-free farming, Meikle said New Zealand’s agriculture is profitable, citing increases in growth and productivity.
He also said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an initiative for regional integration and economic growth, is very important to New Zealand. He said TPP offers the U.S. and other participants the opportunity to negotiate a trade agreement, which reflects the business realities of the 21st century.
The TPP goes beyond tariff eliminations, Meikle said. It makes the regulatory systems of TPP countries more compatible so U.S. companies can operate more seamlessly in TPP markets, helping small- and medium-sized companies.
Ambassador Gabriel Silva Lujan of Colombia congratulated McDonnell for his success in exporting agricultural products to the global marketplace.
“We believe Virginia can be a leader in the U.S. for is export of agricultural products,” he said. He touted his country’s ability to pay its bills. “We never defaulted on our debt.”
With more than 25 percent of farm cash receipts attributable to export sales, expanding Virginia’s agribusiness exports is a major a priority for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his administration. The export trade reached a record $2.3 billion in exports in 2011, a more than 6 percent increase from 2010.
Virginia’s agricultural products can be found in practically every corner of the world. Still, foreign diplomats who spoke at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade in Richmond on March 13 and 14 said they are eager to import even more.
Several students and recent graduates from Virginia Tech and a 23-year-old, fifth-generation farmer from Tanner, Ala., rubbed elbows with many influential leaders and foreign diplomats at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade held March 13 and 14 in Richmond.