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Maine Companies Plan Trade Mission To Asia

Gov. John Baldacci will lead representatives from area firms and universities to Japan and Korea; three previous trade missions generated $12 million in sales.

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A lobster company, Maine pulp and paper manufacturers, a window company and a vodka maker are among the companies participating in a trade mission later this month to Japan and Korea which will be led by Gov. John Baldacci.
Also sending delegations in hopes of attracting more foreign students will be the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine, York County Community College and Foxcroft Academy. In all, 14 organizations will be represented.
The trip, which begins Oct. 27, is organized by the Maine International Trade Center. Business representatives pay their own way, and chip in a little extra to cover the expenses of the governor and his body guard. The trip costs between $5,500 and $6,000 per person, said Wade Merritt, director of operations for the trade center.
The Portland nonprofit, which provides trade counseling and technical assistance, has been organizing overseas trips for 10 years. It chose Japan and South Korea because both are among the top five countries for Maine exports, Merritt said.
Baldacci spokesman David Farmer said the trade mission is part of an aggressive economic development strategy.
''The governor is able to bring the prestige of the office. That helps make business possible and that translates into money and jobs for Maine,'' Farmer said.
The trade center says sales resulting from three previous trade missions total $12 million. Colby College Economics Professor David Findlay said it makes sense for Maine businesses to visit Japan and South Korea, but cautioned against putting too much stock in direct monetary returns from such visits.
''Japan ... is clearly going to continue to experience long-term growth,'' Findlay said. ''That is an area presumably worthwhile visiting for Maine firms.''
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