The event was attended by the Arkansas business and agriculture community and included executives from Tyson Foods and Walmart and leaders from the Arkansas Farm Bureau and Farmers for Free Trade. These leaders stressed the importance of NAFTA to the Arkansas economy and how the trade agreement positions Arkansas as a global leader.
“We are known as global leaders,” said Hutchinson. “We cannot retreat from that global presence in the marketplace without harming our workers and businesses in the state.”
NAFTA’s impact on the state of Arkansas is significant. More than 100,000 jobs in Arkansas depend on trade with Canada and Mexico and Arkansas shares a positive trade balance with both countries. Exports to Mexico are growing 3.6 times faster than state exports to any other country and have grown by 700 percent, according to Melvin Torres, Director of Western Hemisphere Trade for the World Trade Center Arkansas.
“Canada and Mexico account for a third of all of Arkansas exports,” said Sara Lilygren, Board President of Farmers for Free Trade, in a statement released by the organization. “Importantly, our NAFTA partners are a huge market for Arkansas agricultural exports, from rice, to poultry, to dairy. The integration of the North American supply chain benefits Arkansas, our rural communities as well as customers around the world.”
As Arkansas Governor, Hutchinson is outspoken on the benefit of trade to the state, especially agriculture trade. He recently made an official proclamation, naming December 17, 2017 Agriculture Trade Awareness Day in the State of Arkansas.
In addition to agricultural trade, Hutchinson also emphasized that state manufacturing is dependent on trade.
“It has been integrated into our manufacturing system and jobs depend on the continuation of that,” he said. “We will be hampered in our effort to bring manufacturing back to Arkansas if Arkansas assembly plants or manufacturing facilities do not have access to the entire North American market.”
“Trade is a vital part of our state’s economy,” said Dan Hendrix, President and CEO of the World Trade Center Arkansas. “It supports more than 350,000 jobs and Arkansas goods and services are exported to more than 180 countries. We are thankful the governor is very supportive of growing bilateral trade between Arkansas and the rest of the world, and especially between Canada and Mexico.”
The mission of the World Trade Center Arkansas is to grow trade and increase Arkansas exports by connecting Arkansas businesses to the world through international trade services. For more information and valuable updates, please follow the Center on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to the World Trade Center Arkansas newsletter.