RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - State legislators are trying to boost Virginia's economy by increasing exports. The General Assembly passed a bill Friday to create an International Trade Corporation to help more businesses sell their products around the world.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has been advocating to create the Trade Corporation, arguing expanding Virginia's exports is vital to growing the state's economy.
"The Authority is going to be important because of the services that are going to be provided to help those small businesses and mid- size businesses reach 81% of the world's purchasing power, which is outside the United States market," explains Keith Martin, Executive Vice President of Public Policy for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
While large companies often have trade relationships in other countries, smaller businesses usually don't, Martin points out.
"There are so many different regulations and hurdles the companies have to go through, they just don't know where to start," said Martin.
Legislators passed a bill Friday to create an International Trade Corporation to pool private business organizations and federal, state, and regional agencies to work together under one umbrella to boost trade. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority would use existing staff and resources to facilitate the Trade Corporation.
According to the bill, the board will consist of 17 members. Five will be the Secretaries or representatives of the state departments of Agriculture and Forestry, Commerce and Trade, Finance, Technology, and Transportation.
The Governor would appoint twelve other members, to be approved by the General Assembly. They would come from federal, state, and regional agencies interested in promoting trade, such as:
- The GENEDGE Alliance
- The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
- The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
- The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and other statewide chambers
- The Virginia Manufacturers Association
- The Virginia Maritime Association
- The Virginia Port Authority
- The Virginia Small Business Development Center Network
- The U.S. Department of Commerce
- The U.S. Export Assistance Centers
- The Virginia District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration
- Localities and regional entities providing international trade programs
The Virginia Manufacturers Association also advocated for the Trade Corporation.
"Many of us have been talking about this for over a decade," said Virginia Manufacturers Association President Brett Vassey. "Just in the last year came an opportunity where we thought this was the time."
The Trade Corporation would work to help businesses find the best foreign markets for their products and take them to meetings with potential buyers.
"The companies get to go along, have pre-set appointments, and they would get their sales through that process," said Vassey.
The aim of the Corporation would be to reach Governor McAuliffe's goal of increasing exports of products and services by $1.6 billion by 2020 and create 14,000 additional jobs.
Governor McAuliffe is reviewing the bill. If he does sign it, the International Trade Corporation would start helping businesses to export in April of next year.
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