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United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk Highlights Trade During Trip to North Carolina

July 16, 2010

Charlotte, N.C. - Today United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk concluded his two-day visit to North Carolina where he highlighted the importance of global trade in creating and supporting jobs across the state. On Thursday, Ambassador Kirk toured the Porter Family Farm, an award-winning 500-acre broiler and sow operation in Cabarrus County. During a roundtable following the tour, Ambassador Kirk, State Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler, and various North Carolina farmers discussed topics ranging from sweet potato and wheat production to the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, an important agreement with the potential to support 70,000 additional jobs in the United States, which President Obama recently launched an initiative to complete. Later in Charlotte, Ambassador Kirk met with local business leaders to talk about successes and challenges in exporting.

On Friday, Ambassador Kirk, along with U.S. Representative Larry Kissell (D-NC), visited and toured the University of North Carolina-Charlotte’s Technology Center where he greeted students working on projects and met with local manufacturers and technology company executives. After the tour, Ambassador Kirk and Congressman Kissell hosted a business roundtable with local business owners where they discussed issues ranging from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and intellectual property rights to textiles and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

“As an industrial, financial, and economic hub, the state of North Carolina is playing a vital role in President Obama’s National Export Initiative. During my time here in North Carolina farmers, manufacturers and business leaders have shared with me just how USTR and the Obama Administration should continue to work on building this country’s economic recovery through trade,” said Ambassador Kirk. “This trip was a wonderful opportunity for me to highlight the significance of global trade in bolstering North Carolina’s economy.”

In 2009, exports of American goods totaled more than $1 trillion, and $21.8 billion of those exports came from North Carolina. North Carolina is the 15th highest exporter among the 50 states. In 2007, more than a quarter of a million U.S. firms export goods, 7,898 of them in North Carolina, and 23 percent of those were small- or medium-sized firms with fewer than 500 employees. In fact, 17 percent of all manufacturing workers in North Carolina depend on exports for their jobs, and export-supported jobs linked to manufacturing accounted for an estimated five percent of all private-sector employment in North Carolina.