This Saturday Governor Paul LePage will lead a diverse group of Maine business professionals, academic recruiters and government representatives including Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner, George Gervais on an intense week-long trade mission to Hong Kong and Shanghai. The State of Maine Trade Mission to China will be Governor LePage’s first overseas mission as Governor and marks the first horizontal Gubernatorial Trade Mission to Mainland China.
The delegation includes several Maine businesses seeking to develop new export markets and secure new buyers/distributors to expand their sales in China. “This is all about boosting Maine’s export trade, developing investment contacts and increasing business attraction,” said Governor LePage. Industries represented include medical products and biotech sectors, advanced materials, wood and seafood sectors, and some educational institutions looking to boost international student attraction.
China is the second largest market for medical devices due to the increasing demand for medical equipment. Experts predict that market will continue to grow at 14-15% annually during the next few years. “We are looking forward to developing the Chinese market for our optical medical products we manufacture and export,” said Lighthouse Imaging Chief Technology Officer, Dennis Leiner.
Educational institutions also see a very promising market in China. Approximately 1,000 Chinese students are currently enrolled in the Maine’s schools, with a large majority at the high school level and a smaller but growing number at the university level. “We are looking to establish new partnerships with Chinese institutions and find more exchange and internship opportunities for UMaine students,” explained UMaine in Orono Dean of the College of Business, Public Policy and Health, Dr. Ivan Manev.
In 2011 Maine exported a record $3.4 billion. “There are roughly 2000 exporting companies in Maine and that number continues to grow,” explained DECD Commissioner George Gervais. Last year China officially overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. U.S. exports to China reached record levels last year at $103.8 billion; the market now represents the state’s third largest foreign market with $275 million of Maine products exported in 2011.
“Over the past year, we have seen increased demand for trade assistance related to China across all industry sectors,” explained Maine International Trade Center President Janine B. Cary. “Based on a number of advance meetings that have taken place via teleconference in recent weeks, we expect this will be a very successful trade mission for participating businesses and schools.”
The Maine International Trade Center is coordinating the trade mission with assistance from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The trade mission begins in Hong Kong, proceeds to Shanghai on September 12 and concludes when the delegation returns to Maine September 15.