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Phil Bryant

Gov. Bryant touts benefits of 12-nation free-trade agreement

By JACK WEATHERLY 

Gov. Phil Bryant says he hopes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be approved because he believes it will enhance Mississippi exporting.

“I hope it’s approved, and I hope that we’re a strong part of it,” Bryant said in an interview after the annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Exporting program at the Jackson Convention Complex on Dec. 4.

Mississippi is already a trading partner with the 11 countries that would be part of the treaty.

“You’re going to see more [trade] with the countries we’re already trading with,” he said.

The 11 countries that the United States would join in the trade agreement, which awaits final approval by its respective member governments, accounted for nearly 38 percent of Mississippi’s exports in 2014, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The 12 nations that would be partners are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Mississippi’s total exports in 2014 were $11.45 billion.

Manning McPhillips, chief administrative officer of the Mississippi Development Authority, said that Mississippi exports have increased 259 percent in the past decade.

In 2015, the MDA’s International Trade Office led trips to Canada, Central America, South Africa, South America, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Israel, McPhillips said.

As a result of the trip to Israel in 2014, the MDA invited Israeli businesses to Jackson. More than 100 business-to-business meetings were held, McPhillips said.

Bryant said Israel is called the “start-up nation because they believe in starting up businesses.”

The governor said that he had a 45-minute discussion with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A trip is planned to India next year. “We think that the largest democracy in the world needs an opportunity to do business with Mississippi,” Bryant said.

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