UK Plans To Open Trade Office In NC Amid Brexit, HB2 Backlash

Jul 29, 2016

British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox
Credit flickr.com/photos/number10gov/27817229713

LGBT advocates are criticizing the United Kingdom's decision to open a new trade office in the Triangle.

As Brexit threatens the UK's economic ties with Europe, the conservative British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox announced the country will open three new offices in the US to promote trade.

Steven Cain leads the Triangle Chapter of the independent British-American Business Council of North Carolina. That organization also supports trade between Britain and North Carolina, which is even more important after the Brexit vote.

Cain points out that the UK is the largest investor in the US, and vice versa.

"I mean, it's extremely valuable anyway," Cain said. "Given the current uncertainty in Europe, it makes it all the more important and valuable to build on the strength we already have."

Cain said Raleigh is an attractive market because of its proximity to technology companies and research universities. But LGBT advocates say it's unethical to do business with the state that passed the controversial House Bill 2, which limits protections for transgender people.

"House Bill 2 has not helped our efforts to promote North Carolina as a great place to do trade and investment, but we're living with it as best we can for the moment," said Steve Cain, of the business council.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that HB2 could cost North Carolina almost $5 billion per year.