Governor Northam Announces First Ever International Trade Strategic Plan for Commonwealth of Virginia

Long-term strategy aims to increase competitiveness of Virginia businesses in international marketplace, grow exports by 50 percent

NORFOLK—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the first ever comprehensive International Trade Strategic Plan for Virginia. The plan lays out an aggressive goal to expand the Commonwealth’s international trade output by 50 percent over the next 15 years, increasing Virginia’s position from 41st in exports per capita to the top 20 states for exports per capita by 2035.

Governor Northam presented the plan at the 71st Virginia Conference on World Trade, where he highlighted specific initiatives that support existing Virginia businesses in building their capabilities and expanding networks and markets, while also attracting and promoting export-intensive companies that can serve as anchors and growth-drivers for Virginia’s economy.

“International trade is a powerful economic engine for our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Maintaining Virginia’s position as the best state to do business and ensuring that all regions of the Commonwealth can participate in our economic growth requires that we boost our international trade. Virginia has a great deal to offer, including the East Coast’s deepest port, and we are committed to doing more to support and promote growth-minded companies as they successfully expand into global markets. I am proud of the many partners collaborating to meet our aggressive goals in this area, and help position the Commonwealth to be more competitive in a globally connected economy.”

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring led a steering committee comprised of prominent business leaders from around Virginia and staff from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), the Port of Virginia, and other state agencies in developing the plan. The group engaged hundreds of companies, a dozen state and federal agencies and trade associations, and many state, regional, and local leaders across the public and private sectors, geographies, and industries, ensuring the final recommendations represent a broad cross-section of Virginians.

“I would like to commend everyone involved in this ambitious undertaking, particularly the members of the International Trade Plan Steering Committee, to analyze Virginia’s strengths and opportunities in the international trade arena and to develop a bold plan to increase Virginia exports by 50 percent,” said Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring. “The initiatives included in this plan will positively impact every region of the Commonwealth, from rural to urban, and every industry, including agriculture and forestry, making Virginia’s economy even stronger and more resilient.”

“Virginia has best-in-class export promotion programs to help businesses enter global markets and attract large-scale, export-intensive companies,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The International Trade Strategic Plan represents an unprecedented partnership to move the Commonwealth forward as a major player in international trade and help Virginia’s businesses become more competitive in the global marketplace, resulting in increased exports and new job creation across the Commonwealth.”

While Virginia has highly-regarded international trade development programs and a long track record of supporting export growth with partner companies of all sizes, the Commonwealth still trails other states in international trade activity. Virginia’s exports per capita rank 41st in the country, and 38th in imports as a share of gross state product.

The International Trade Strategic Plan identifies 26 initiatives across three categories to support existing companies with international trade and to attract and expand trade-intensive businesses to Virginia:

  • Exports: Expand the capacity of state agencies to build capabilities, facilitate connections, and share risk with Virginia firms that export
  • International Supply Chains: Increase focus of state agencies to build capabilities and facilitate connections for firms that import critical elements of their supply chains
  • Business Attraction, Infrastructure, Tourism, and Other Enablers: Fully align business expansion and recruitment activity with international trade efforts; advocate for critical investments in logistics infrastructure and tourism strategies; enhance the Commonwealth’s ability to serve Virginia businesses through increased coordination among agencies; and engage state and federal leaders strategically and systematically to raise awareness of trade issues

These initiatives have the potential to double the number of internationally trading firms that the Commonwealth supports, adding nearly $18 billion in annual exports and well over 150,000 high-quality jobs. This increase in exports and jobs will position Virginia as a leader in export activity, diversify the Commonwealth’s economy, and contribute to a better quality of life in communities across all regions of Virginia.

Since taking office, Governor Northam has hosted ambassadors from Mexico, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Indonesia, and Switzerland at the Executive Mansion in Richmond to discuss the Commonwealth’s international trade relationships and encourage investment in Virginia.

The Governor also presented the 2019 Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Award for Excellence in International Trade to The Turman Group, an operator of lumber facilities, land development, and other vertically integrated companies, located in Carroll County. The annual award recognizes a Virginia business that has increased its international sales while promoting the best interests of its employees and the surrounding community. The Turman Group joined VEDP’s flagship Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program in February 2008 and graduated in January 2010. Since then, the company has grown its annual sales to $120 million and is active in more than 30 countries globally.

The International Trade Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth of Virginia is available here.