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March 06, 2008   Email to Friend 

Alden Harris
(334) 240-7232
March 06, 2008

Alabamians making the trek to the Ukraine were, from left: Johnny Adams, executive director of the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association; Rep. Johnny Morrow; Commissioner Ron Sparks; and Rep. Butch Taylor.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Commissioner Ron Sparks of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries recently returned from the Eastern European Country of Ukraine where he led the first American trade mission to participate in a food-based trade show in Ukraine.

"We are building a relationship with the Ukraine as they move towards World Trade Organization ascension," said Sparks. "This window of opportunity will provide Alabama companies the ability to look to the future and find the perfect fit in the Ukraine market."

The trade mission included three Alabama poultry-related companies, and the trade show component, sponsored by USDA and the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) showcased six Alabama food product companies and four additional Southern-based food product companies.

State Reps. Butch Taylor and Johnny Mack Marrow accompanied the delegation to promote industries from their districts. Garth Thorburn, the U.S embassy's Agricultural attache, assisted the group during the trade mission.

Sparks and trade mission participants met with officials from the Ukraine Ministry of Agriculture, the Ukraine Poultry Union, importers and brokers.

The 46 million people in this modern Eastern European country represent the benchmark for former Soviet bloc countries. Real gross domestic product growth reached about 7 percent in 2006-07, fueled by high global prices for steel -- Ukraine's top export -- and by strong domestic consumption, spurred by rising pensions and wages.

The 1991 independence from a dissolved USSR provided the opportunity for privatization of industry and capitalistic businesses flourished. After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union.

Today, this Texas-sized country is attempting to ascend into the World Trade Organization. Should ascension occur as predicted in July, American products -- many of which could be Alabama products -- may find a very rewarding market.

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