NOLA TIMES: Louisiana is increasing export sales more than all but one state, according to new report

04/09/2015

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By: BRUCE ALPERT | 4/9/15 at 6:00 AM | Source: NOLA TIMES

Louisiana is increasing export sales more than all but one state, according to new report

WASHINGTON — Only one state — New Mexico — has recorded more growth from export sales than Louisiana, according to 2014 data being released later Thursday by the office of U.S. Trade Representative.

Louisiana’s exports by monetary value increased from $32.6 billion in 2009 to $65.1 billion in 2014 or 99.55 percent, according to the report.

The report said jobs attributed to exports jumped from 102,225 in 2009 to 170,200 in 2014, or 66.5 percent. That’s the 4th highest job growth, attributed to exports, among the 50 states.

Louisiana ranked 12th nationally in total jobs attributed to exports in 2014. Texas was No. 1, with over $1.1 million in export-related jobs, according to the report.

Still, the growth for Louisiana is impressive, said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

“I think there is a pretty compelling story for Louisiana, with those kinds of increases,” Froman said.

Froman is working to build support for legislation to give the president fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements with 11 Asian nations and member nations in the European Union.

Froman, while conceding that some previous trade deals didn’t live up to their “hype,” contends the current negotiations will protect labor rights and the environment, while putting a priority in making sure exports opportunities are provided for small businesses.

Tariffs on Asian imports coming into the United States are significantly lower than tariffs charged for U.S. companies trying to export to Asia, meaning a trade deal would be a big benefit for American-made products, Froman said.

While there’s opposition from congressional Democrats to the new trade deals, it’s one of the few areas in which Louisiana Republicans, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, are supporting the Obama administration. Scalise said new trade deals with Europe and Asia would be good for the Port of New Orleans and a job generator.

Last month, some Democrats, including Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Casey, D-Pa., said past trade agreements hurt American workers and that the new deals could do the same. They complained that the Obama administration isn’t providing enough details on what provisions will be included.

“Bad trade deals exacerbate the rise in inequality, corporate profits go up, and middle-class families struggle to get by,” Brown said. “These trade agreements are all about corporate handouts and worker sellouts.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the contemplated deal with Asian nations may  be even worse than previous bad trade agreements.

“It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system,” Sanders said.

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