Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that he will lead an 11-day trade and marketing mission to the Middle East and India from November 13-24. The Governor will be accompanied by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and representatives of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services and the Port of Virginia. The delegation will visit the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Dubai, India, Oman, and Kuwait.
The Governor and his delegation will attend more than 103 meetings over the course of the mission. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership has arranged another 90 meetings with prospective customers and partners during the mission for six Virginia companies participating in the VEDP trade mission, including Alliance Solutions Group; ACI Solutions; American Orthotic and Prosthetic Center, Inc., Pureous, SYSUSA and Commonwealth Trading Partners (CTP).
The Governor will meet with senior business executives and government representatives to bolster the export of Virginia goods and services, and promote Virginia’s desirable business location advantages.
In addition to one-on-one business meetings, the Governor will host five receptions to showcase Virginia’s economic development strengths, its agriculture, forestry, and food and beverage assets, and great quality of life to prospective corporate investors.
“International marketing missions are a critical component of Virginia’s aggressive and pro-active approach to economic development. They provide the best opportunity to personally convince corporate leaders to invest in Virginia and bring jobs back for our citizens,” said Governor McAuliffe. “International trade also plays a vital role in my strategy to build a new Virginia economy and mitigate the impact of federal defense cuts. Our goal is to help existing Virginia businesses succeed in the global arena, and trade missions are a key component to reaching new markets, expanding existing ones, and building customers and revenue streams around the world while sharing Virginia’s pro-business story.”
In 2014, United Arab Emirates ranked 24th among Virginia export destinations, totaling $218 million. This represents an increase of 36% from 2013.
VEDP has led trade missions to the Middle East since the late 1990s, including three missions to Dubai and Abu Dhabi during the past 18 months, involving more than 40 Virginia companies and representing a wide range of industries, such as healthcare, information technology, cybersecurity, hospitality, and oil and gas. The Middle East is the largest international market for Virginia’s defense sector. VEDP’s Going Global Defense Initiative (GGDI) is the Commonwealth’s only program that replaces U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) revenue streams for Virginia’s defense companies, which in turn preserves jobs and replaces declining state tax revenues for Virginia. Now in its third year, the DOD has granted $1.8 million for GGDI to assist Virginia’s defense-related companies that have been adversely affected by defense budget reductions.
Virginia continues to build on its economic relationship with India. From 2006-2015 Indian companies invested more than $150 million and created nearly 1,000 jobs in Virginia. Twenty-five Indian companies currently operate in the Commonwealth. In 2014, India ranked 19th among Virginia export destinations, totaling $230 million—up 7% from 2013.
In 2011 VDACS secured a full-time trade representative in India and exports have climbed since then, reaching just over $6 million in 2014. With its high rate of population growth and increasing size of its middle class, India remains a market with high potential for Virginia agricultural and forestry exports. The country currently ranks as Virginia’s 50th largest export customer for agriculture and forestry-related products.
Per the Governor’s request, VDACS is closely analyzing the possibility of a new strategic focus in several key Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, Oman, U.A.E., and others such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. With a growing population and increasing demands for quality proteins, grains and other products, the region represents significant opportunities for Virginia agriculture and forestry products. At present, U.A.E. is Virginia’s 28thlargest agriculture and forestry export customer, Oman ranks 40th, and Kuwait stands at the 42nd largest export destination.