The United Kingdom will open a new trade office in downtown Raleigh Thursday in an effort to expand the country’s economic ties with North Carolina.
It’s one of three new trade offices across the United States and the only one in the South. The U.K. Consulate in Atlanta is overseeing the project, which aims to connect North Carolina companies with British firms in industries common to both places: Technology, life sciences and manufacturing, among others.
The new office will be led by Andrew Terrell, a Hickory native who attended universities in Britain and also worked in the Obama White House as a staff member for the National Economic Council. Terrell’s new title is Consul for Government and Prosperity.
“It’s very much about a partnership,” Terrell said. “This is going to be beneficial for North Carolina just as much as for the U.K.”
The Raleigh office opening comes at a good time for American trade relations with the British. Incoming President Donald Trump has said he wants to prioritize a new trade deal with the United Kingdom, and he plans to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May shortly after he takes office.
The United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote last year to leave the European Union has left British companies wary of new partnerships with other European countries, since it’s unclear what trade terms will be in place after Brexit. That makes the U.S. more appealing as a partner.
“There is a certain element of uncertainty, whereas there is none of that with the United States,” said Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford, the consul general for Atlanta.
Pilmore-Bedford and Terrell have been meeting with elected officials and business leaders around the Triangle, including Gov. Roy Cooper. Pilmore-Bedford said the consulate already has strong relationships with local companies that have ties to his country, including Quintiles, Red Hat, Epic Games and SAS Institute, which has a data center in Glasgow, Scotland.
Terrell plans to focus on the Triangle at first before branching out to work with companies and leaders in the Triad and Charlotte areas.
The British government chose Raleigh for the new trade office because of the Triangle’s growing population, major universities like UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke, and its life science and technology companies. And Raleigh-Durham International Airport has direct flights to London.
The other new trade offices are in San Diego and Minneapolis; the U.K. already had offices in Seattle and Denver.
The Atlanta Consulate has been highlighting the U.K.’s ties to North Carolina this week on Twitter, noting that the United Kingdom is the state’s second largest market in Europe for exports, and that British companies have 30,000 employees in the state.