For Immediate Release
June 12, 2012
Cle Elum, Washington - Western Governors wrapped up their Annual Meeting today with a discussion on strategies for increasing agricultural exports. Joining the Governors were Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at USDA.
"Nearly half of all of our country's agricultural exports are grown or raised in the Western states," said Gov. Chris Gregoire, Chair of the Western Governors' Association. "In addition, Western state exports have increased 20 percent in each of the last two years."
Ambassador Siddiqui highlighted more export opportunities opening up because of pending trade negotiations with other countries. Under Secretary Scuse emphasized the need to ensure both agricultural exports and imports are free from disease to protect consumers and maintain export levels.
The governors agreed to work together to build additional markets overseas. They also committed to look at the challenges and opportunities facing rural America and develop policies and initiatives designed to strengthen rural economies and communities.
Yesterday the Governors were joined by Jim Evans, Chief Executive Officer of Brand USA, and Roger Dow, President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Travel Association. The discussion focused on barriers to increased tourism and a new national effort to market the U.S. to overseas tourists.
"We believe the Western U.S. is a premier destination for foreign visitors," said Gov. Gary Herbert (Utah), WGA's Vice Chairman. "We have scenic beauty, open spaces, outdoor recreation opportunities and a unique blend of cultures and histories unmatched around the globe."
The Governors committed to working with BrandUSA and industry to coordinate promotion in overseas markets and amend policies that inhibit foreign visitors from traveling to the U.S.
Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010 to spearhead the nation's first global marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and communicate U.S. entry/exit policies and procedures. Brand USA works in close partnership with the travel industry to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel.
For more information about the WGA Annual Meeting, including reports and press releases, visit www.westgov.org.
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