"Most job growth is going to come from existing industry," said Skip Scaggs of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation. "We understand this on a regional basis. It's important as companies grow they have to look for new markets and to do that they go overseas."
One of the speakers at a meeting of the East Mississippi Manufacturers Association was Orlando Diaz, who represents Mississippi in Santiago, Chile. His emphasis was on tariff advantages.
"It's important because if you're competing, for example, with Chinese or a Japanese company, you are going to have tariff preferences," said Diaz. "So the bulk going from the United States to Chile and from the main continent in the future are not going to have to pay tariffs."
Paul Swenson represents the Mississippi Development Authority in Shanghai, China. He pointed out that, in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, Beijing is in the midst of an unprecedented civil construction effort that includes billions of dollars.
"For them, 'Made in the U.S.A.' is still a quality label whereas 'Made in China', even among Chinese consumers, isn't as much of a brand issue," said Swenson. "And so, 'Made in the U.S.A.' attracts some buyers and I think we need to put our products in front of them and sell them if we can. Especially for U.S. small and medium size enterprises it's important to compete globally as well as locally and I think a lot of people overlook the opportunities in the global market."
Swenson said the best prospects for U.S. building materials exports to China include, but are not limited to, doors, windows, wood products, sanitary fixtures, paints and structural materials.