On Thursday, May 24, 2012, Congressman Wally Herger’s office held a Trade Agreements Forum at the Elk’s Lodge in Chico California from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Sacramento U.S. Export Assistance Center (Sacramento USEAC) assisted with promotion of the event to area companies and helped with coordinating the speakers for the event. The Sacramento USEAC participated with an exhibit table and was represented by Director George Tastard, Senior Trade Specialist Anthony Hill, and Trade Assistant Ibraheem Husnein.
The event began with welcome remarks from Congressman Wally Herger who spoke of the importance of international trade to northern California and contribution that exporting makes to companies in the area. Following his remarks there was a presentation by Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Negotiator from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Ambassador Siddiqui’s comments addressed the benefits of recent agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and the next steps for the U.S. trade agenda.
Following Ambassador Siddiqui, there were presentations by Eric Sohn, International Trade Specialist, Market Access and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce and Andy Anderson, Executive Director of the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association. Eric Sohn’s remarks focused on South Korea and the benefits of the free trade agreement with that country. Mr. Anderson addressed issues of interest to agricultural exporters. He spoke about programs to help increase agricultural exports.
After Mr. Anderson, there was a presentation by George Tastard, Director of the Sacramento USEAC who gave information on the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service and all of the ways the organization can help companies sell their products in foreign markets. Following Director Tastard, there were presentations from Jerry Avila, Regional Manager of the Export Solutions Group, Small Business Administration; Bernie Weiss of the Center for International Trade Development; and Jim Lucchesi, Senior Export Finance Manager, Export-Import Bank of the United States. Each of these presenters talked about their organizations and their role in helping U.S. exporters.
Next there was a panel discussion of trade success stories from local businesses. The panel included Gregg Kelley, President and CEO of California Olive Ranch, Michael Rue, Owner of Rue and Forsman Ranch – a large rice producer, and Richard Wilbur of Wilbur Packing Company – a producer and exporter of prunes and walnuts. Each representative spoke about his companies successes and difficulties selling in foreign markets. Finally, Congressman Herger gave closing remarks.