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Port of Wilmington welcomes Romanian ambassador

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By Ken Mammarella 
Special to Delaware Business Times

The operator of Europe’s second-largest port on December 6 invited the Port of Wilmington to become a sister port. Wilmington would be the first friendship port in the U.S. for Constanta, Romania.

“I’m impressed by plans at the port,” said George Maior, Romania’s ambassador to the U.S., who made the offer, noting it could lead to higher volume, lowered costs and more revenue in Wilmington.

Maior said the Romanian government officials who run the port are very familiar with Gulftainer, the company that recently took over operations in Wilmington. He also noted several similarities between the two ports, including expertise in cars and agricultural goods and excellent land access to customers.

Wilmington is just one traffic light away from America’s interstate system, said Carla Sydney Stone, president of World Trade Center Delaware, which promotes international trade.

An embassy delegation toured the port as part of a day in Delaware that culminated in the center’s gala for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the World Trade Center network, which was incorporated in Delaware. The event also celebrated the 100th anniversary of Romanian unification and the 231st anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state.

Maior praised Delaware’s governor for his recent proclamation about Romanian unification. “It meant a lot to us, considering your history of independence.” Maior said he proposed that the governor send a trade mission to Romania, and he invited representatives of the port to Romania as well.

The delegation met with Delaware business and political leaders, plus representatives of the SMART Congressional Initiative, aimed at “strengthening the Mid-Atlantic region for tomorrow.”

American-Romanian trade is about $3 billion a year, about half in the eastern U.S., Maior said, citing multiple elements that make Romania attractive for business. It’s the fastest-growing economy in the European Union and has the most people per capita working in information technology in the continent and world’s fifth-fastest broadband network. “We’re a country of opportunities,” he said.

Delaware companies active in Romania include B&W Tek, which makes Raman spectroscopy equipment; and DuPont Pioneer, for seeds, according to Stone.

Stone said a company called International Development & Technical Assistance and the World Trade Center Delaware were all involved in developing Romania’s telemedicine system. Delaware Technical Community College, the University of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Agriculture have led technical assistance, faculty exchange, study abroad and training programs in Romania, including efforts in avian flu and the equine industry.

“I have a close relationship going back many years with Romania and have been to the embassy for discussions and events many times,” she said in explaining how Romania’s centennial became part of the gala.

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