Virginia Governor Announces International Trade Initiative
Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia announced recently the creation of the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL), a new initiative managed by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) that will increase international trade in Virginia. VITAL expands the state’s international trade program with formal partnerships with Virginia’s public universities, industry associations, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
VEDP a marketing organization and a state authority with offices in Virginia, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, China and Japan, focuses on business recruitment, expansion and international trade.
“We need to help our businesses export their goods and services,” said McAuliffe, speaking at the announcement in the state capital of Richmond. “International trade is a key part of my plan to create private sector jobs and build a new Virginia economy that is less reliant on the federal government.”
“Helping Virginia businesses sell their manufactured goods and services abroad is one of our most effective business expansion strategies, and this initiative is designed to do just that,” added Maurice Jones, Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The Commonwealth exported over $36 billion in manufactured goods and services in 2014. VITAL will exponentially accelerate Virginia companies’ engagement with the global economy, resulting in stronger, more resilient businesses and more jobs for Virginians.”
VITAL will build upon Virginia’s existing export assistance programs, including market research, face-to-face meetings with potential overseas partners, and VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program. In 2014 and 2015, VEDP took 176 companies on trade missions across the globe to find customers in new international markets. McAuliffe has made the program a priority and reallocated $1 million toward the initiative through flexibility granted to him in the state budget.
As partners to VITAL, Virginia’s public universities will identify companies with international business as a corporate strategy and conduct international research to position these companies for global expansion. Other VITAL partners include the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Virginia Maritime Association, and the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
Goals for the intiative include growing Virginia exports by $1.6 billion in five years, creating 14,000 trade-supported jobs in five years, and increasing the number of companies enrolled in VEDP’s international trade programs.
“In 1992, one in ten jobs in Virginia was tied to trade,” said Barry DuVal, CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “In 2013, it was nearly one in four. The VITAL program promises to open up new markets abroad for Virginia goods and services that will create more good-paying jobs.”