Since it was founded in 1911, Wardwell Braiding in Central Falls has continually utilized advances in technology to make the machines they manufacture vital to many industries – beginning with textiles and evolving to machines used in the wire and cable industries.
Over many decades, however, one aspect of Wardwell Braiding has remained an important component of the business – its involvement in importing and exporting. “We’ve been exporting our machines to most of the world for 60 or 70 years,” said Wardwell Braiding Vice President John Tomaz, who has been with the company since 1978. “We export about 30 percent of what we manufacture.”
With the company sales totaling more than $8 million annually, that’s a hefty export from Rhode Island, with a substantial percentage of the machines bound for Germany, France, Italy and other countries in Europe, in addition to nations around the globe.
Now a proposed trade and investment agreement could give such Rhode Island businesses that export and import to and from Europe an edge.
“The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has the potential to be a real game-changer,” European Union Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida said at a seminar for state economic- development, education and business leaders at Bryant University on Aug. 9, sponsored by the John H. Chafee Center for International Business and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.
“[The partnership] 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,” said Almeida. “Having come through the most severe economic recession in living memory, neither the U.S. nor the EU can afford to let this opportunity pass.”
Trade between the United States and the European Union accounts for about 30 percent of world trade, said Ray Fogarty, executive director of the Chafee Center at Bryant University. “This would modernize the trade agreement already in existence between ourselves and Europe,” Fogarty said. “This agreement is to lower the red tape and the rules and regulations.”
The effort to get the proposed agreement approved was launched in July with negotiations between representatives of the U.S. and the EU in Washington, D.C.