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Mayor Stanton: Phoenix must prepare for international trade

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During a tour with Deputy U.S. Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews on Thursday, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was adamant about the importance of the city preparing for international trade.

While Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the U.S., the metro area is only the 27th largest export market in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“We’ve got to get ready for international trade,” Stanton said. “Those cities that have strong export economies are the leading cities in the United States of America, the leading cities in the world.”

Stanton made the comments while visiting APS BioGroup, which produces colostrum products. Andrews came to Phoenix to promote the Obama administration’s efforts to open trade agreements with Europe and Asia.

“One of the things I’m doing here … is talking to a number of businesses about the trade promotion legislation that is going to be considered by Congress this spring,” Andrews said.

The trade agreements have created some pushback from unions, which fear such agreements could result in the loss of U.S. jobs to foreign countries.

Robert Davies, the CEO of APS BioGroup, said his company supports free trade.

In 2011, the secretary of commerce presented APS BioGroup the Presidential E-Award for increasing U.S. exports.

The company exports to 57 countries and employs about 100 workers, most of whom are local.

“They’re one of our leading companies that already is well versed in how to export – and export successfully – around the globe,” Stanton said.

Stanton said APS BioGroup is “ahead of the curve” when it comes to exporting – and city officials want to prepare other companies to follow suit.

Phoenix has launched an export-readiness initiative and is educating local businesses on legal questions, regulatory requirements and financing issues as part of a boot camp.

“It’s a necessary thing for us to do if our city is going to be able to compete successfully in this new global, competitive economy,” Stanton said.

In Arizona, exports support nearly 96,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Many of these are at small- and medium-sized businesses.

“Our small- and medium-sized companies are ready to take advantage of the global marketplace now, and particularly when the new trade agreements come into play,” Stanton said.

According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. exports grew by 2.9 percent in 2014 to a record $2.35 trillion. Andrews said that export growth in the U.S. would only increase if the trade agreements succeed.

“They would absolutely supercharge growth in exports, and that’s what we’re really focused on,” Andrews said.