Saying that Asian countries hold “immense potential” as markets for Virginia products and services, Gov. Bob McDonnell Tuesday touted his administration’s efforts to foster international trade at a meeting of a statewide Asian-American business group.
“I want you to know this administration really takes seriously this idea of promoting growth and entrepreneurship, especially in the international market,” McDonnell said in a speech at the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce’s annual business networking event.
“The idea of having increased foreign direct investment in Virginia, and secondly opening up new markets for Virginia products in those Asian markets, is a huge part of our strategy,” McDonnell said during the luncheon at the Holiday Inn Koger Center in Chesterfield County.
McDonnell said his administration has worked to build markets for Virginia products by opening overseas trade offices. Since early 2011, the state has opened trade offices in Mumbai and Delhi in India, and in Shanghai, China.
In Shanghai, “we have got two people that are Chinese nationals that are solely focused on representing Virginia in China, which is terrific for us” McDonnell said, citing China’s robust 9 percent gross domestic product growth rate and 1.3 billion people.
“That’s the reason we are there,” he said. “You’ve got to go where the people are. You have got to ask for the business. So that is why the [Cabinet members] and I and other business people have been literally traveling the world to tell Virginia’s story.”
McDonnell cited two specific trade deals involving agricultural goods.
In September, the state announced a deal in which Perdue Agribusiness Inc., which owns a deep-water export terminal in Chesapeake, is exporting soybeans to China. McDonnell said five shipments have been made worth about $25 million each.
In August, the state announced that Barboursville Vineyards had reached an agreement to export its wines to China. The McDonnell administration said that was the first commercial transaction between a Virginia winery and a Chinese importer.
“These are just a small start in what I think is going to be an explosion of trade between Virginia and our friends in China and all over the Asia-Pacific region over these next couple of years,” McDonnell said Tuesday.
McDonnell is planning an economic development trip to England, Germany and Sweden in June, his sixth international trade mission since he took office in January 2010.
“We are going to be aggressive in promoting Virginia around the world,” he said.