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E.U. Ambassador to U.S. Speaks with Rhode Island Businesses about Proposed Trade Partnership

The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), along with the John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, hosted European Union Ambassador to the United States João Vale de Almeida at Bryant University for a discussion on the business potential of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union.

"I thank Ambassador Vale de Almeida for visiting Rhode Island and allowing our businesses a chance to learn more about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Looking beyond our borders to identify opportunities for Rhode Island businesses to expand and increase employment is essential to job creation and growing our economy," said Governor Lincoln D. Chafee. "Seminars such as this one and other events, including World Trade Day and international trade missions, organized by the partnership between the RIEDC and Bryant University play an important role in strengthening Rhode Island businesses and increasing economic activity."

"The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has the potential to be a real game-changer," said Ambassador Vale de Almeida. "Launched by the presidents of the United States and the European Union in June, negotiations got off to a good start in Washington in July; and in October, U.S. negotiators will travel to Brussels, where the E.U. is headquartered, for the next round. TTIP is a new and historic project that aims to create the largest free trade and investment area of its kind ever – at no cost to the taxpayer. Having come through the most severe economic recession in living memory, neither the U.S. nor the E.U. can afford to let this opportunity pass. There will be some tough nuts to crack along the way, but if we succeed, the reward will be well worth it. I count on the people and businesses of Rhode Island to support this historic endeavor."

The U.S.-E.U. TTIP is a proposed comprehensive trade and investment agreement that aims to facilitate trade by sorting out differences in technical regulations, standards and certification between the two regions. In 2012, Rhode Island exported $626 million to the E.U. – 26.41 percent of the state's total exports – the jewelry and metal industry accounted for the majority of Rhode Island's exports to the E.U. at 44 percent. If approved, this agreement could increase trade opportunities within the European Union for Rhode Island companies, grow the economy and create more jobs.

"RIEDC and the Chafee Center at Bryant coordinate these types of events to help Rhode Island businesses expand their exports and take advantage of growth opportunities in a global marketplace. By further developing these types of positive relationships, we are creating an economic climate for businesses to grow," said RIEDC Executive Director Marcel A. Valois. "We are pleased to have hosted Ambassador Vale de Almeida to discuss this important topic with Rhode Island businesses, and we look forward to continuing to work with Bryant to provide businesses with the tools, information and resources to increase their exports and develop R&D collaboration with international partners."

"Twenty-seven percent of Rhode Island's global trade in 2012 was with the E.U. Numerous Rhode Island companies, including GTECH, Citizens Bank and National Grid, have European parents," said Ray Fogarty, executive director, Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University. "The TTIP will reduce regulatory burdens between our two regions, cutting red tape and leading to economic growth and job development. We are pleased to host Ambassador Vale de Almeida at Bryant, and we commend his efforts in driving ahead the free trade discussions that are so mutually beneficial."

RIEDC and Bryant University annually organize events such as the E.U. Ambassador's visit, to help Rhode Island businesses and institutions find new international trade opportunities. Similarly, the three organizations also hosted a seminar on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) in 2011 that provided significant value to several Rhode Island-based companies, such as Hope Global in Cumberland.

Founded in 1883, the company develops and manufactures engineered textile solutions for automotive, commercial and industrial use. Through the KORUS FTA that eliminated or reduced import tariffs, Hope Global has become a more competitive supplier in the Korean market, especially in the automotive industry where the resulting price decrease has a direct impact on ever-important cost-reduction. Hope Global has been exporting its braided products, such as shoelaces, to Asia – Chinese-made Red Wing and Timberland shoes feature Hope Global shoelaces – which provide strength and quality that Chinese laces lack.

For more information on trade missions, World Trade Day, and various seminars and trainings to help businesses explore their international trade potential, contact Kathy Therieau, RIEDC director of international trade, at (401) 278-9139 or

About Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation is the full service, official economic development organization for the state of Rhode Island. A quasi-public agency, the Corporation serves as a government and community resource to help streamline the business expansion in, and relocation to, Rhode Island. The agency assists companies with commercial real estate, business financing, workforce training and other relevant issues.

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