Medical device industry weighs in on free trade agreements for job creation

As Washington lawmakers and medical device industry experts debate the potential benefits of a new free trade agreement, Spinal USA has announced plans to expand operations in the South.

On Capitol Hill, the House is considering passage of a free trade agreement with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. Opponents say the pact will hurt job creation in the U.S. because it encourages more businesses to hire cheaper labor overseas.

Tom Holmes, economist at the University of Minnesota, told Minnesota Public Radio the proposal would be good for the state's medical device industry.

"When Medtronic or St. Jude Medical try to sell pacemakers in South Korea, it really helps if they can sell them duty free when up against competition against their European and Japanese rivals," Homes noted.

Meanwhile, Spinal USA said it plans to hire more workers at its surgery implant manufacturing facilities in Mississippi and Alabama.

The company said it has already nearly doubled its workforce in Jackson, Mississippi, over the past year due to an increase in demand from patients both stateside and abroad.