Gov. Timothy M. Kaine recently participated in a seven-day trade mission to Europe, with scheduled visits to Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The Governor, accompanied by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Patrick O. Gottschalk and representatives of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Virginia Tourism Corporation, departed on November 11th, and returned to Virginia on November 18th.
“This trade mission is an exciting opportunity to strengthen trade relations with some of our leading export destinations, and seek out European companies that are interested in expanding their employment bases in the United States,” said Governor Kaine. “I also look forward to personally extending an invitation to our European friends to join us in commemorating America’s 400th anniversary at Jamestown next year.”
Governor Kaine held confidential business meetings in all four countries. He also hosted a Jamestown 400th Anniversary celebration at Tower Bridge in London and participated in a reception to promote the Jamestown festivities to the Kent Tourism Council and members of the British Committee. The trip was Governor Kaine’s second international trade mission. He led his first trade mission to Canada in May.
On Nov. 19, Governor Kaine and the Virginia delegation met with senior executives of The A.P. M’ller-Maersk Group in Denmark, parent company of APM Terminals, which currently is completing work on a $450 million expansion of its operations at the Port of Virginia.
In addition, Governor Kaine met with top executives from AB Volvo during his visit to Sweden. Recently, Volvo Trucks North America’s facility in Dublin announced layoffs of approximately 1,000 of its 3,100 employees.
“Our meeting with the Volvo executives was both timely and important,” Governor Kaine said. “These unfortunate layoffs are directly tied to market conditions, and we anticipate a rebound in the truck market by the second half of 2007 which could result in increased employment. We also discussed ways the Commonwealth can work to assist these displaced workers, and strengthen ties between Volvo and the New River Valley and the Commonwealth for many years to come.”
Virginia exported $21.47 million in merchandise to Denmark in 2005, up 67% from 2004. The most dramatic increase in Virginia exports to Denmark in 2005 were medical products, aircraft, furniture, electrical machinery, cosmetics and copper articles.
Virginia exports to Sweden in 2005 were valued at $144 million, a 34% increase over 2004. Bituminous coal continues to be a major export to Sweden via Virginia, with 2005 exports valued at $32 million. Just last month, Governor Kaine announced that Sweden-based Swedwood North America, a furniture manufacturer and subsidiary of IKEA, will build a North American manufacturing operation in Danville and Pittsylvania County, eventually employing up to 740 people.
The United Kingdom has been Virginia’s fourth largest export destination for the past six years. After a drop in 2004 exports, Virginia exports to the UK rebounded in 2005 by about 12%. Industrial machinery remains the top export at $241 million, an increase of nearly 30% over 2004.
Germany is Virginia’s second largest export destination with exports in 2005 valued at $1.18 billion, a nearly five-percent increase over 2004. Electrical and industrial machinery, tobacco, and military supplies have been Virginia’s strongest exports to Germany over the last decade. (Office of Gov. Tim Kaine, D-VA)