LePage Administration Calling China Trade Mission A Success
A delegation led by Governor LePage has just returned from a trade mission to China. At a press briefing Tuesday, members of the LePage team said they’re encouraged by the possibilities of boosting Maine’s economy by partnering with China.China’s interest in investing in the U.S. is skyrocketing. In fact, China has invested more than $3 billion in the United States since 2010. The LePage administration is hoping to attract some of those investment dollars here. That was the goal of their recently completed trip overseas, according to Janine Bisaillon-Cary, President of the Maine International Trade Center. “We might not be ahead of the curve on that, but we’re not very far behind it, let’s put it that way,” Bisaillon-Cary said Tuesday. “So the timing on this, I think, was really good. We had a lot of interest everywhere we went.”The group spent a busy week fostering relationships and promoting the products Maine offers that China could use. Last year, Maine exported $275 million worth of goods to China. “The breakdown is all the usual suspects in terms of the top five. You’ve got pulp paper, semi conductors, and industrial machinery,” Bisaillon-Cary said.But she adds that Maine’s seafood industry is rapidly climbing that list. “Lobster, I think, last year ended up increasing about 500% in terms of export sales.”According to LePage Senior Economic Advisor John Butera, another market where Maine can look to compete in China is in the area of food quality. “The Chinese, their buying habits are moving up in terms of higher food quality products. That’s a perfect niche for Maine’s agriculture and natural resource products,” Butera told reporters.Now that connections have been made in China, nurturing those relationships will eventually determine how successful this trade mission was. “The most important part of all of this is the follow up,” Butera said, “and we’re prepared to do that. Both the companies, the governor’s office, the International Trade Center, Economic and Community Development Department. We have to continue to follow up. We’ve started that relationship, but we need to continue.”The head of Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development, George Gervais, said the admistration is looking into the possibility of having someone in China full-time to make sure Maine business interests are represented in China.