Diplomats Converge on Hartford, Connecticut: Focus is Economic Development

Hartford looked more like an international capital than a state capital at a recent economic development-centered event organized by the World Affairs Council of Connecticut.

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Representatives of more than 20 nations were on hand to connect with local business leaders and economic development officials, including the state’s new Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, David Lehman, leadership of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, and businesses seeking to build on existing international relationships or break new ground.

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The 2nd annual Diplomat Reception was held at the Wadsworth Atheneum.  World Affairs Council of Connecticut CEO Megan Clark Torrey noted that “Connecticut is a global state,” adding that “many visiting diplomats have shared the specific connections their represented nation prioritizes and values in its relationship with Connecticut.”

Among those in attendance:

  • Bangladesh/Consul General Sadia Faizunnesa, Consul General of Bangladesh in New York

  • Brazil/Ambassador Fernando Barreto, Consul General of Brazil in Hartford

  • Canada/Matthew Duong, Consulate General of Canada in New York

  • China/Deputy Consul General Dr. Yumin Zhao, Deputy Consul General of China in New York

  • Germany/Honorary Consul Janet Danisman, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany

  • Ghana/Consul General Samuel Amoako, Consul General of the Republic of Ghana in New York

  • Hungary/Honorary Consul Christopher Ball, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Connecticut

  • India/Devi Prasad Misra, Consul (Trade, Commerce & Education) in New York

  • Japan/Honorary Consul General Gregory Boyko, Honorary Consul General of Japan in Connecticut

  • Kazakhstan/Consul General Zhanibek Abdrashov, Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan in New York

  • Mexico/Acting Consul General Vivian Juárez Mondragón, Acting Consul General of Mexico in New York

  • Nepal/Consul General Pushpa Raj Bhattarai, Consul General of Nepal in New York

  • Nigeria/Consul General  Benaoyagha B. M. Okoyen, Consul General of Nigeria in New York

  • Pakistan/Consul General Naeem Cheema, Acting Consul General of Pakistan in New York

  • Peru/Consul General Eduardo Gonzalez, Consul General of Peru in Hartford

  • and Deputy Consul General Maria Arce

  • Poland/Honorary Consul Darek Barcikowski, Honorary Consul of Poland in Connecticut

  • Qatar/Consul General Nasser Ibrahim Allenqawi, Consul General of Qatar in New York

  • Romania/Honorary Consul Dana Bucin, Honorary Consul of Romania in Connecticut

  • Russia/Head of Division Oleg A. Melnik, Trade Representation of the Russian Federation in the USA

  • Rwanda/Kagenza Rumongi, Communications Expert at the Permanent Mission of Rwanda in New York

  • Turkey/Consul General Ceylan Özen Erişen, Consul General of Turkey in Boston

  • United Arab Emirates/Consul General Majid Al-Suwaidi, Consul General of the United Arab Emirates in New York

  • United Kingdom/Vice Consul Joy Kinnear, Trade & Investment Officer at the Department for International Trade of the UK in Boston

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Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin welcomed the gathering, stressing Hartford’s many international connections – and welcoming more.  “Hartford is open for business.  We want you here,” Bronin said.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz was also in attendance, as were nearly 200 representatives of local law and lobbying firms, financial institutions, technology firms, education institutions, manufacturers, economic development associations and arts organizations.

Data based on the 2010 U.S. Census indicates that at least 29 languages are spoken in Connecticut, in addition to English.  Among the most prevalent are Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish French, Chinese and Russian. The state’s leading export countries are France, Canada, Germany, U.K., Mexico, China, Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.  Leading exported goods include aircraft (including engines and parts), industrial machinery parts and generators, precision instruments, electrical machinery, plastics, and chemical products.

The state’s Business Roundtable has estimated that international trade, including exports and imports, supports 518,300 Connecticut jobs – nearly 1 in 4 – and that customers in 199 countries and territories buy Connecticut-made goods and services. Nearly 6,000 Connecticut businesses exported, based on 2013 data, and between 1992 and 2014, the percentage of jobs in Connecticut supported by trade increased by 117 percent, reaching 23 percent of jobs in the state.  Connecticut shipped $14.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017, the nation’s 25th-biggest exporter that year. 

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association reported in 2017 that the vast majority (89%) of Connecticut businesses engaged in international trade are small and midsize enterprises employing fewer than 500 workers. When asked if they believed exporting helped their companies weather the weak recovery from the recession and/or better positioned their company for a stronger recovery, 68% of businesses said yes, CBIA reported.  The statewide business organization noted that in ten years of its annual business survey, “we have witnessed a steady increase in the number of Connecticut companies engaging in international trade—from 53% to 77% over a 10-year period.”