Mayor Paulo Vicente, it is an honor to be here with you and the leadership of Marinha Grande here in the heartland of Portugal. And I understand it is thanks in no small part to this region that I am here today as U.S. Ambassador, as timber from your forests formed the caravels of the Age of Discoveries.
As you know, I’m here today at the request of CEFAMOL and the industrial molds sector. The U.S. was once a major export destination for products from Marinha Grande, and we believe we can be so again.
As I will discuss at lunch, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — or T-TIP — being negotiated right now between the U.S. and the EU will unlock doors, open markets, reduce red tape, and lower tariffs for companies on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Partnership will be particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized enterprises like the ones here in Marinha Grande, who do not have the ability to manufacture in two continents or hire teams of lawyers to navigate bureaucracy. We look forward to a successful conclusion of negotiations, and the support of cities like Marinha Grande will be important to the ultimate passage of this agreement.
But beyond business, I want to recognize you and your leadership team for the example of humanism you set here in Marinha Grande. I read just the other day a story of a refugee family from Iraq that moved to Marinha Grande to start a new life. They began learning Portuguese and now work in a local clothing factory. In my mind, this is a great example of what is so good about Portugal, how communities have opened their arms – rather than closed their hearts – to those in the greatest of need.
So I want to thank you for hosting me, and congratulate you for the job you are doing. With examples like Marinha Grande, I know our transatlantic future is bright.