FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce:
Charleston, S.C. - U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint today met with Charleston business leaders and touted the importance of exports to South Carolina and the United States as they toured the Port of Charleston, one of the busiest container ports along the Southeast and Gulf coasts.
"Products valued at billions of dollars pass through the Port of Charleston, and many of these are made in South Carolina and destined for international markets," said Gutierrez. "Made in USA products such as BMWs, machinery, consumer goods and agricultural products are being exported right through this port, supporting tens of thousands of jobs."
South Carolina's overall exports in 2006 totaled $13.6 billion and went to over 150 countries around the world.
"South Carolina contributed to last year's record high for U.S. exports, which totaled more than $1.4 trillion," Gutierrez said. "International trade generated $23 billion for South Carolina's economy."
Gutierrez noted that while countries that the United States has free trade agreements with make up only 7.5 percent of the world GDP, they purchase more than 42 percent of U.S. exports.
"Exports are helping to drive the U.S. economy and were a significant source of U.S. GDP growth in the 2007 second quarter.
"Free trade agreements are the best way to open markets and create growth and new American jobs," said Gutierrez, adding that Congress is now considering four FTAs with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea that would open doors to 126 million consumers with a combined GDP of $1.1 trillion.
"Passage of these four agreements is critical to U.S. economic and foreign policy and will help Charleston and South Carolina grow," Gutierrez said.
Richard Mills or Dan Nelson
Department of Commerce Public Affairs