September 4, 2012

LePage leading trade mission to China next week

The seven-day trip will be LePage's first overseas trade mission.

By John Richardson
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage will lead a week-long trade mission to Hong Kong and Shanghai next week.

LePage is scheduled to leave Maine Saturday, according to the Department of Economic and Community Development. DECD Commissioner George Gervais also will participate, along with business leaders, academic recruiters and other and government representatives, the DECD said.

It will be LePage's first overseas trade mission as governor and the first such visit by a Maine governor to mainland China.

The delegation includes several Maine businesses seeking to develop new export markets in China. Industries to be represented include medical products and biotech sectors, advanced materials, wood and seafood sectors and educational institutions looking to boost international student attraction.

“We are looking forward to developing the Chinese market for our optical medical products we manufacture and export,” Lighthouse Imaging Chief Technology Officer Dennis Leiner said in the DECD's news release.

“We are looking to establish new partnerships with Chinese institutions and find more exchange and internship opportunities for UMaine students,” said Dean Ivan Manev of the University of Maine College of Business, Public Policy and Health. Approximately 1,000 Chinese students are currently enrolled in Maine’s schools, with a large majority at the high school level and a smaller but growing number at the university level, according to the DECD.

Maine exported a record $3.4 billion in 2011, according to the DECD.

“There are roughly 2,000 exporting companies in Maine and that number continues to grow,” said Gervais.

Last year China officially overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. China 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.

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 Sept. 12, and concludes when the delegation returns to Maine Sept. 15.

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