The upcoming Massachusetts trade mission to Israel will emphasize cybersecurity and digital health, two industries in which Governor Charlie Baker says the commonwealth has an opportunity to become a powerful worldwide player.
Baker told more than 150 business leaders and diplomats at the 2016 AIM Global Trade Symposium this morning that cybersecurity and digital health are related because digitally driven insulin pumps and other medical devices must be invulnerable to software hackers.
“Cybersecurity will become the prerequisite for digital health,” Baker said during a keynote speech at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
“When we get onto the idea of medical devices designed to monitor health status…the whole idea of breach in something like that is not a shrug-the-shoulders kind of moment.”
The governor said Massachusetts remains well positioned to increase exports because of significant upgrades to the infrastructure for moving products from the Bay State to overseas destinations by sea and by air. He noted the expansion of direct overseas flights at Logan International Airport, the dredging of Boston Harbor, and the expansion of the Connelly Terminal in Boston as important steps to ensure that Massachusetts employers will continue to have access to foreign markets.
The AIM Symposium honored three Massachusetts companies with Global Trade Awards for excellence in international business - REXA of West Bridgewater, L-3 Security & Detection Systems of Woburn, and Riverdale Mills Corporation of Northbridge.
“International trade plays a pivotal role in the health of the Massachusetts economy” said Richard Lord, President and CEO of AIM.
“That is why we are delighted to honor the achievements of these local winners, who set the standard for global business. These firms are making a significant contribution to Massachusetts’s reputation as a world trade leader. ”
Employers and academics at the Symposium agreed that uncertainty hangs over international commerce in the form of a strong dollar, weakness in key export markets, the impending exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and a rising tide of protectionism both in the U.S. and abroad. Several companies reported that the rising dollar and falling shipping costs are bringing new, low-cost competitors into many overseas markets.
“The uncertainty level has certainly gone up in the past several years,” said, Ravi Ramamurti, Distinguished Professor, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, who led a panel discussion on “Tough Times for Trade.”
He added that the slowing growth in Europe and Asia appears to be structural rather than cyclical in nature.
The effects of currency shifts and other factors vary widely depending on industry, geography and the ability of a particular business to adapt.
“Volatility creates opportunity,” said Charlie Cunnion, Director of Global Transportation for International Forest Products LLC, the largest exporter in New England.
“When things are difficult, that’s when we shine the best,”