Kaine, Pritzker discuss trade issues with local businesses
Virginia business leaders told U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va) and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Monday about problems they face in international trade.
In a roundtable discussion at the World Art Group in Richmond, Kaine told the panelists that international trade affects all sizes of businesses, and it’s important to get policies right, “so we are here to talk to you about trade issues and how we can be helpful,” he said.
The event primarily focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and how , if finalized, it would affect Virginia companies and the commonwealth’s economy. The TPP is a trade agreement being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Pritzker, the agreement seeks to create “a standard for global trade.” President Barack Obama’s administration is working to finalize the deal this year. According to Kaine’s communications director Amy Dudley, there’s a debate in U.S. Congress on how and when it will weigh in.
Lindy Fralin, who owns Richmond-based Lindy Fralin Pickups, said taxes and shipping costs are the biggest barriers in exporting his products, which are devices on electric guitars. For example, it costs him $8 to ship to California as opposed to $45 to send products to Canada.
Lonnie Lemco, owner of the World Art Group, an art publishing company, said high tariffs imposed abroad on his products represent a big issue. The company, which exports to more than 30 countries, also has run into copyright infringement problems in China. Other issues mentioned by panelists included currency fluctuations, lead times and regulatory restrictions.
Monica Nichols, an international trade manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, brought up high dairy tariffs in Canada and food additives restrictions in Japan. She also said any help the U.S. can provide with exporting to Brazil would be beneficial.
“It’s a great market, it’s just a very difficult market for us to export to…” she said.