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Locke Samples Results of Asia Trade Mission

Derek Wang

Washington Governor Gary Locke says a new breakthrough potato trade agreement with South Korea proves the effectiveness of trade missions. However, the deal also increases the hurdles for state farmers. Reporter Derek Wang has more.

[sound - "Oh yeah, let's try some potato chips...] AT A PRESS CONFERENCE, WASHINGTON GOVERNOR GARY LOCKE SAMPLED A BATCH OF KOREAN POTATO CHIPS, MADE FROM WASHINGTON POTATOES. THE BAGS OF CHIPS MAY SOUND LIKE ANY BRAND, BUT WITH FLAVORS LIKE SEAWEED AND HOT AND SPICEY, THE CHIPS ARE AIMED TOWARD THE KOREAN MARKET. THE 375 THOUSAND DOLLAR DEAL CALLS FOR A QUINCY POTATO FARM TO SHIP 5 [M] MILLION POUNDS OF SPUDS. ALTHOUGH THE OVERALL SUM OF THE CONTRACT MAY SEEM LIKE SMALL POTATOES, GOVERNOR LOCKE SAYS THE DEAL IS SIGNIFICANT, BECAUSE IT RESULTED FROM LAST YEAR'S TRADE MISSION TO ASIA. HE ALSO DETAILED OTHER CONTRACTS THAT CAME FROM ASIA TRADE MISSIONS. For instance our last trip to China, we were able to secure a contract for a manufacturing company in Kent, where that Kent manufacturer signed contracts for 10 million dollars of sales per year, minimal. And how much did we spend in state funds to secure that? 45-50 thousand dollars. Getting your foot in the door is important and it's important for a couple of reasons. DEBORAH GLASSMAN IS AN INTERNATIONAL TRADE SPECIALIST WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON BUSINESS SCHOOL. The U-S market is not growing as fast as some of these global markets are growing. So if you're looking for new opportunities in the future, you've got to be looking to the global markets. Secondly there are risks in all agricultural markets and risks on the supply side and risks on the demand side. And if you can diversify your market you can diversify some of those risks. GLASSMAN SAYS THE DOWNSIDE IS THAT WASHINGTON PRODUCERS FACE A NEW SET OF GOVERNMENTAL RULES NOW THAT THEY'VE CRACKED THE SOUTH KOREAN MARKET. THE STATE POTATO COMISSION SAYS ONE HURDLE IS THAT EVERY JANUARY, SOUTH KOREAN TARIFFS ON POTATO IMPORTS INCREASE FROM 30 PERCENT TO 300 PERCENT, AN ISSUE THE COMMISSION IS WORKING ON. I'M DEREK WANG.