The commissioners of Georgia’s agricultural and economic development departments have signed an agreement to work more closely together to increase the state’s agricultural exports.
Signed in Istanbul on May 31, the agreement calls for the economic development department to take over the promotion and coordination of the state’s agricultural exports.
Under the agreement, the economic development department is to provide added resources to its international trade division to boost agricultural exports.
The international trade division has 10 overseas offices and recently augmented its export promotion initiatives to assist small and medium-sized companies.
The agreement also includes extending the state’s partnership with the Southern United States Trade Association, or SUSTA, which is to transfer its export-promotion programs and services to Georgia companies from the agricultural to the economic development department.
SUSTA’s staff currently at the agriculture department on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is to move to the economic development department office on Fifth Street.
According to a news release, the primary day-to-day contact for inquiries about agricultural exports from Georgia will continue to be handled by the SUSTA staff.
The agreement became effective June 1.
“Working together and sharing resources, we can boost business visibility and opportunities abroad for Georgia’s biggest industry through our 10 international offices,” Chris Cummiskey, the state’s economic development commissioner, said in the release.
Gary Black, the agriculture commissioner, said that the partnership is to provide “greater exposure and knowledge for Georgia agricultural products in the world market.”
The commissioners are traveling in Turkey with a group of top state officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal. The delegation is visiting the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Mersin where they are meeting with government and business leaders to discuss opportunities to business and trade, especially in agriculture.
Georgia already is the No. 1 exporter of poultry products in the United States. But Mary Kathryn Yearta, a spokesperson for the agriculture department, told GlobalAtlanta that the department wants to increase exports of a broad range of agricultural products including cotton and pecans.
Georgia’s exports to Turkey totaled $609 million in 2011, up 6 percent from the previous year.