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Virginia Politics
Posted at 02:57 PM ET, 11/21/2011

McDonnell hints at auto deal as trade mission to India and Israel ends


Gov. Robert F. McDonnell at an appearance in Virginia in August. (Robert A. Martin - Associated Press)
Wrapping up an 11-day trade mission to Israel and India, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said he had no business deals to announce but indicated that big things were in the works.

“I think we’ll have some announcements within the next 30 days,” McDonnell (R) said in a conference call from India on Monday morning. “Major, major projects — a manufacturing plant for automobiles, to major acquisitions of farmland — might take six to nine months. There are some decisions that are imminent and some where we’re planting the seeds.”

McDonnell said the trip had been a productive way to “tell the Virginia story,” and thereby entice Israeli and Indian businesses to set up shop in the commonwealth or import Virginia products.

Virginia’s biggest export to India is coal, but McDonnell spent much of his time promoting the state’s wine, film and tourism industries. He hosted wine tastings with some of India’s top wine critics, hoteliers and others who might be interested in importing it.

McDonnell has also met with education and political leaders. He noted that Virginia Tech is in the final stages of creating a master’s degree program for Indians to be based on the country’s southeast coast. The program will focus on science, technology, engineering and math.

On Monday, McDonnell opened an agricultural trade office in New Delhi to promote Virginia wood products, apples, processed foods and soybean oil. He had been scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but that fell through.

“That was disappointing,” McDonnell said. “We would have liked that, but obviously he has a huge country to run.”

McDonnell was asked in a conference call last week whether he was competing for the same business that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) will seek with his own trade mission to India, which started Monday.

“There is plenty of business for everybody to have,” McDonnell said. But McDonnell added that Virginia’s 12-person delegation was “leaner” that Maryland’s, which will include more than 100 business leaders, educators and elected officials.

By  |  02:57 PM ET, 11/21/2011

 
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