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U.S. trade official makes call on port

POSTED: August 22, 2011 6:42 p.m.

The Georgia Ports Authority hosted the U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis on Monday to discuss pending free trade agreements that will increase exports through the Port of Savannah. He was briefed on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and toured the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal.

“President Obama is committed to moving forward trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama to grow our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs, and realize countless new economic opportunities for Americans in Georgia and across the United States,” said Ambassador Marantis. “Savannah is clearly a place positioned to seize these new export opportunities with its strong trading relationships and ambitious vision for the future.”

The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement will provide American farmers, ranchers, food processors and businesses they support with improved access to the Republic of Korea’s $1 trillion economy and 49 million customers. Under the agreement, nearly two-thirds of current U.S. agricultural exports will become duty free immediately and lower tariffs will benefit both U.S. suppliers and Korean consumers.

“I would like to thank Ambassador Marantis for taking the time to visit the Port of Savannah – the growing gateway for American commerce and a strong economic engine for the U.S. economy,” said GPA’s Chairman of the Board Alec Poitevint. “As the number one U.S. port for poultry, exporting nearly 40 percent of U.S. poultry, the Port of Savannah helps drive economic recovery through exports.”

The pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia will support tens of thousands of jobs, will help boost U.S. exports and will support the President’s balanced trade agenda. America’s seaports are crucial to the success of these goals.

“The GPA exported 12.4 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in 2010, which means one out of every eight of our nation’s export containers departed from Savannah,” said GPA’s Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz. “As larger vessels continue to call on the Port of Savannah, the increased global demand for exports through our terminals necessitates the efficiency and additional capacity of a deeper harbor.”

Marantis was nominated for his position by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate on May 6, 2009. He is responsible for U.S. trade negotiations and enforcement in Asia and Africa. He also leads USTR global initiatives on trade and development, labor, and the environment.

Marantis recently served as Chief International Trade Counsel (Majority) for the Senate Finance Committee. In this capacity, he advised Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), as well as members and staff of the Finance Committee and Democratic Caucus, on trade and economic issues.

Marantis joined the committee in February 2005 after serving as Issues Director for Sen. John Edwards on the Kerry-Edwards 2004 presidential campaign. Prior to the campaign, Marantis spent two years in Hanoi as chief legal advisor for the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council.

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