Trade agreements with Peru, Colombia bring possible new jobs

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COLUMBIA - Trade deals between Missouri and Colombia and Peru could bring more than 6,000 jobs to the state in the next five years. 

This week, Gov. Jay Nixon visited the South American countries. He signed trade deals guaranteeing $750 million worth of exports from Missouri to Colombia and $300 million worth of exports from Missouri to Peru. 

The total of nearly a billion dollars over five years, could bring thousands of jobs to the state, according to the Missouri Department of Economic Development. 

Steve Wyatt, the vice provost for economic development at the University of Missouri, said the trade agreements are positive for Missouri.

"We are selling a specific good or service to another country. In exchange for that product, they transfer the cash from the sale back to us. The sale and the cash is ended up being spent here. That money then goes into Missouri's economy," Wyatt said. 

He said the trade agreement is particularly good for businesses that make seasonal products, since Colombia and Peru are in a different hemisphere and therefore experience seasons opposite to Missouri. 

"Some businesses are seasonal, so they sell their products in the winter or when it's warm, so geographically, selling their products in other countries can be very beneficial," Wyatt said. 

In general, Wyatt said to think of export agreements as a good idea for the United States. 

"When you think about exports, it's important for the United States to export," Wyatt said. "When you look at customers around the world, 96 percent are outside of the United States. So anytime we can sell products outside of the United States, it's an excellent opportunity for our businesses to get a diversified revenue stream." 

Amy Susan, with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said businesses are encouraged to work with Peru and Colombia. 

"They can reach out to DED’s International Trade Office and have a search conducted to identify distributors and buyers," Susan said. "Through the relationships we’ve established, we would be able to identify buyers of grain or other commodities, including manufactured goods."