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World Trade Center Arkansas Attends Agriculture Conferences, NAFTA emphasized


Melvin Torres (center) stands with Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward (left) and Arkansas Rice Federation Executive Director, Lauren Waldrip Ward (right) at the annual Arkansas Rice meeting on Monday, February 19, 2018.

February 20, 2018 – Arkansas leaders convened multiple times in the past seven days in Jonesboro to stress the importance of Arkansas agriculture and the impact of NAFTA on Arkansas growers. The 2018 Arkansas State University Agribusiness conference took place on Feb. 14 and the Arkansas Rice Federation’s annual meeting took place on Feb. 19, 2018.

Melvin Torres, Director of Western Hemisphere Trade represented the World Trade Center Arkansas at these events.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was the keynote speak at the Arkansas Rice meeting yesterday.

“Arkansas exports over 40% of our rice to Mexico and Canada,” he said. “The President understands the importance of these markets and I will continue to reinforce the significance of these markets and all international markets to our state’s agriculture industry.

“The Unites States should not pull out of NAFTA,” Hutchinson said. “I have growing confidence that this administration understands we can’t pull out of NAFTA.”

The Arkansas Rice meeting also highlighted voluntary smoke management guidelines for crop burning as a part of complete crop management strategy.

Last week’s Agribusiness Conference convened industry leaders, officials and executives to discuss the biggest issues and impacts to agriculture. Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward was the keynote speaker at this event. Ward also was present at the Arkansas Rice meeting. The importance of NAFTA to the state of Arkansas was stressed at both meetings.

“NAFTA’s impact on the state of Arkansas is significant,” said Melvin Torres, Director of Western Hemisphere Trade. “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.”

In June 2017, Torres testified before the United States Trade Representative in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Arkansas companies on the benefits of NAFTA and their needs within the modernization negotiations. Governor Asa Hutchinson also spoke on the benefits of NAFTA at the World Trade Center Arkansas on Jan. 16, 2018 at an event called Arkansas and NAFTA.

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.