Mayor says sun shines on Irish trade possibilites

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Packing light could pay off big for Warwick.

That probably wasn’t what Mayor Scott Avedisian had in mind when he boarded a flight last week as a member of a trade mission to Ireland.

Avedisian got an introduction to the country like few others have had, conducting more than 50 meetings with national and county government leaders – including new Prime Minister Leo Varadkar – and businesses. The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and Bryant University sponsored the trade mission.

The mayor aimed to promote the opportunities of Warwick City Centre and Green Airport, which he did. He returned filled with optimism and the observation that international discount fares could mean more than foreign visitors taking in Rhode Island sights and spending nights in Warwick hotels.

Avedisian noted that because Norwegian Airlines charges for luggage, many travelers pack lightly, thereby giving the airlines the opportunity to carry cargo. One of the possibilities coming out of the mission was for this cargo to go to Dean Warehouse at City Centre that would be designated as a foreign trade zone. Being in a foreign trade zone would exempt the cargo from excise taxes and tariffs until it arrives at its final destination.

Avedisian was also encouraged by the talks he had with two manufacturing groups considering operations in this country. Direct flights between Green and Ireland, he said, make it attractive for these companies to set up manufacturing operations here. He wasn’t prepared to name the companies or the products they produce, as talks are in the beginning stages.

Overall, Avedisian found that Warwick and Green Airport are ahead of the infrastructure he found in Ireland.

“All the infrastructure investment that has made for City Centre Warwick and Green Airport for international and cargo flights can now be fully leveraged in building an international hub for the future,” Avedisian said in a statement.

Accompanying him were Rhode Island company executives Joseph Iovini, vice president of Dean Warehouse, a supply chain logistics providers with 4 million square feet of warehousing in the U.S.; Roy Coulombe, CEO, Royal Advisors and Consultants to on- and off-shore wind projects; and Richard Pinto, CEO, and JR Pagliarini, president, Fabiani Pinto LLC, an international business development firm that conceived and manages the Ireland West International Trade Centre in Providence and the Rhode Island Trade & Tourism Center in Castlebar, County Mayo.

Mission members had a full day starting with a breakfast meeting as early as 7 a.m. and not ending until 11 that night.

“I saw firsthand this past week the expansive reach of the six Irish counties that constitute the Ireland West International Trade Centre in Providence,” Avedisian said. “The incredible access we were granted to the current and former prime ministers, cabinet ministers and county executives and mayors, and their sharing with us their credible relationships with their consistent companies looking to expand into the U.S. all bodes very well for City Centre Warwick’s and Rhode Island’s future.”

Highlights of the trade mission include:

l Discussion of business, trade, food and energy policy and development with current and former Irish Prime Ministers Leo Varadker and Enda Kenny; Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business and EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen; Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten; and, Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed;

l Attendance at Ireland’s 96th annual National Ploughing Championships in Offaly, Europe’s largest outdoor event with more than 1,500 agriculture, food, machinery, manufacturing, finance and energy company exhibits – met with Irish Food Board CEO Tara McCarthy and Irish Farmer’s Association President Joe Healy.

l Discussions with CEOs from more than 20 Irish businesses looking to enter the U.S. market and promoted Warwick as the ideal location to set up their operations;

l Planning sessions with officials and board members from Cork Airport, Shannon Airport in Clare, and Ireland West Airport Knock in Mayo to develop cargo business with TF Green Airport, and secure Norwegian Air flights between Green and Knock airports.

l Launched the Rhode Island Trade & Tourism Center in Castlebar, the capital of County Mayo, with Richard Finn, Mayo of County Mayo, former Prime Minister Enda Kenny, along with Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon local enterprise office heads and business leaders.

Richard Pinto credited former Governor Lincoln Chafee for largely opening the doors to Ireland in a trade mission in May of 2014. He pointed to the memorandums of agreement reached at that time with Irish businesses for inbound business to Rhode Island and for direct flights from T.F. Green with Shannon and Knock airports. Chafee extended an invitation to then Prime Minister Enda Kenny to visit Rhode Island.

“The Prime Minister kept his word and came to Rhode Island five months later in September 2014 – the Lincoln Chafee and Enda Kenny visits were the true catalysts for the Norwegian flights, the Rhode Island and Ireland Trade Centers to become reality, and for many more great things to come from this perfect “doorway” alignment between Rhode Island and the Northeast Corridor and the west coast of Ireland and the EU’s 500-million-person market,” Pinto said.

Asked what he liked best about his trip to Ireland, Avedisian said the fact that it only rained one day while he was there.

He said he could attest that the sun does shine in Ireland.

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