Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weekly News Conference – South Korean Potato Announcement
December 10, 2003

Good morning and thank you for coming today. I'd like to thank Hanjin Lines for hosting us this morning on their pier.

With me are:

· Valoria Loveland, Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture;
· Pat Boss, Executive Director of the Potato Commission;
· Patricia Davis, President of the Port of Seattle Commission; and
· Kevin Thaemert, Managing Partner of Thaemert Farms.
· Larry Hansen, Local 19 of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU).

We are here to announce that we have succeeded in opening the Korean market for Washington state chipping potatoes.

80 containers of potatoes from eastern Washington have been shipped out of the Port of Seattle. An additional 38 are being shipped this week by Hanjin Lines.

That's a total of 118 containers of potatoes. To help visualize how many potatoes that is, let's take this 50-pound sack of potatoes. (Point to sack of potatoes.) It takes 810 of these 50-pound sacks to fill just one container.

That's 40,500 pounds in each container. Are you still with me?

If you multiply 40,500 pounds by the 118 containers we are shipping, it comes to almost 5 million pounds of potatoes!

These chipping potatoes are a product of Thaemert Farms in Quincy. The potatoes have been purchased by one of Korea's largest snack food processing companies. The potatoes shipped previously are already being made into potato chips. Five million pounds of potatoes will make nearly 1.2 million pounds of potato chips for Korean consumers.

That's no small potatoes!

I want to congratulate the Washington State Potato Commission and our state’s potato industry for this landmark achievement. And congratulations to Kevin Thaemert for his hard work in pioneering this new market. This is a great day for Washington trade.

This development is the direct result of my July trade mission last year. And like most export stories, it was not an overnight accomplishment.

We met with government officials and snack food companies to make our case for Washington potatoes. We received a nice reception, but the Koreans were skeptical about our ability to supply high quality potatoes year-round.

After we returned home, the Potato Commission continued to promote their product with the major Korean processors.

The state Department of Agriculture Washington State Potato Commission invited several Korean snack food processors to visit Washington in February 2003. The Commission set up tours for the buyers. They saw our potato fields and packinghouses, a chip processing plant, and the Port of Seattle. I also met with them to once again press our case.

We were able to convince them firsthand that our growing, storage, and shipping techniques would preserve the high quality of our many varieties.

Over the next few months, the buyers came back four times. And today, we have the pleasure of announcing these significant sales.

Indeed, they wanted to buy more than we have available.

This is not just a "win" for our state and our industry. In the spirit of two-way trade, it is also a "win" for the Korean snack food industry.

The purpose of our trade missions is to promote bilateral trade. Trade is vital to Washington's economy, generating $95 billion per year overall. We are the fourth largest exporting state in the U.S.

The missions focus on agriculture and high technology. They help the state continue its economic development efforts through expanded trade.

We look for continued growth next year.

Now I'd like to introduce Valoria Loveland, Director, Washington State Department of Agriculture, who would like to talk more about the importance of agricultural trade to our state's economy.

Thank you Valoria.

And now, I'd like to introduce Pat Boss, Director of the Washington State Potato Commission to say a few words about today's announcement.

Thank you Pat.

Next up is Patricia Davis, President of the Port of Seattle Commission.

Thank you Patricia.

And here’s Kevin Thaemert of Thaemert Farms.

Thank you Kevin.

Again, congratulations to Kevin, Patricia, Pat and Valoria on this accomplishment. This success shows how important our trade missions are in increasing and improving international trade. They help stimulate our state's economic growth. And in these tough economic times, trade creates badly needed jobs.

We've seen that to build strong trade partnerships, there is no substitute for in-person meetings with our partners, face-to-face. Healthy trade requires focus on relationships, not just transactions. Trade missions are about developing these relationships with our trade partners.

Our trade missions yield results. They create more opportunities for Washington farmers and businesses, and more jobs for Washington citizens.

Thank you.

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