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Monday, August 22, 2011 - 12:44pm

Foreign Trade Deals Impact Savannah

President Obama's deputy trade ambassador visited the Port of Savannah to push for trade deals with Panama, Columbia and South Korea.

The agreements have been stalled in Congress over jobs concerns.

Some liberals criticize the deals -- especially South Korea's -- saying they ship jobs overseas.

The Economic Policy Institute says, the Korea agreement would cost the US 159,000 jobs.

And the US International Trade Commission says, it would boost the trade defecit by at least $300 million.

US Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis says, those studies are flawed and the US and Georgia stand to gain.

"Korea has tariffs right now that are about 18% to 27% percent on US poultry," Marantis says. "So, when those tariffs are eliminated, we will see, I think, a significant increase in poultry trade."

Georgia is the nation's largest poultry exporter and Savannah is the nation's largest poultry-shipping port.

"The port has increased its trade with all of these countries over the past few years," Marantis says. "And the strong message I heard loud and clear is, 'Get these agreements done quickly because they're going to mean more export opportunities, more jobs and more jobs here at the port, as well."

Savannah handles 12% of the nation's containerized exports.

Marantis says, the Obama administration is working with Congressional leaders on a timetable for getting the agreements through the US House and Senate, hopefully after the summer recess.