Business leaders support bill to boost international trade

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Print this page By Matt Chaney | Capital News Service
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Del. Steve Landes describes HB 858 to create a state International Trade Authority.

Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, along with business leaders from across Virginia, promoted a bill Tuesday afternoon that they say will make it easier for businesses in Richmond and elsewhere in the state to export goods internationally.

“This could really be a game changer for Virginia; promoting our exports and getting international companies to come into Virginia and do trade with us,” Landes said at a news conference in the General Assembly Building.

Landes’ proposal, House Bill 858, would create the Virginia International Trade Authority. It would be formed by reorganizing existing programs within the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, another state agency. Thus, the proposal would not affect the state budget, according to Landes and leaders from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Manufacturers Association and the Virginia Maritime Association.

As a result, Landes said, the new authority would not cost taxpayers anything, while devoting more resources toward helping state businesses sell their products abroad.

According to a news release distributed by an alliance of more than 100 Virginia businesses and trade associations, the proposed International Trade Authority will help Virginia meet its goals of adding “14,000 international trade-supported jobs and increase Virginia exports of products and services by $1.6 billion by 2020.”

Van Wood, a professor of marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, said creating an authority devoted to expanding international trade will “help businesses expand overseas, generate more revenue, and put the Virginia brand name out into the world.”

“I want when people to walk into a grocery store in France, and they see French wines, South African wines, Napa Valley wines … I want them to say, ‘We got Virginia wines.’ You got to be out there. That’s what we’re doing,” Wood said in an interview after the news conference.

Wood has a great deal of experience working within the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. He is one of several Virginia college professors who have been asked by the governor to help local businesses find an international market for their products.

“There’s a small distillery located in Richmond, Virginia, in Scott’s Addition called Reservoir Distillery. It makes excellent rye whiskey and bourbon – $150 a bottle,” Wood said. He said that with globalization, such products might find a demand in emerging markets such as India, China, Brazil and Turkey.

“They have a middle class now that these prestige products like American bourbon are going to resonate with,” Wood said.

Landes’ bill has been assigned to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Commerce, Technology and Natural Resources.

Photo by Matt Chaney

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