Author Archives: Cheryl Rau

U.S. drops tax on Canada’s aluminum, heading off retaliation

The Trump administration said Tuesday that it is dropping taxes on Canadian aluminum, easing tensions with a close ally just hours before Canada was prepared to impose retaliatory sanctions.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the U.S. is ending the 10% tariffs a month after imposing them. The U.S. had charged last month that an influx of Canadian aluminum justified the levy.

But the office said Tuesday that shipments of Canadian aluminum are returning to normal levels. It said it could re-impose the tariffs if the imports surged again.

Canada was preparing to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products Tuesday.

Gov. Janet Mills had joined New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to ask Trump to eliminate the tariff, citing the negative impact on manufacturers and supply chain businesses in northern New England.

Read article on Portland Press Herald

European Union drops tariffs on U.S. lobster

The United States lobster industry landed a much-needed trade victory on Friday, but not the one anyone was expecting.

The U.S. and the European Union announced a trade deal that eliminates all tariffs on U.S. lobster, which were 8 percent on live lobster and up to 20 percent on frozen. The deal puts U.S. lobster dealers on equal footing with their Canadian rivals for the first time since 2017, when Canada signed a trade deal that zeroed out tariffs on their EU-bound lobsters.

The U.S. sold $104 million worth of lobster to Europe in 2017, accounting for about 20 percent of total U.S. lobster sales abroad, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s foreign trade division. Last year, unable to compete with tariff-free Canadian lobsters, U.S. lobster sales to Europe fell to less than half that, or about $51 million, data shows.

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

Future of Maine’s forest industry possibly lies in Finland

Endless trees. Paper and pulp. If you compare a photo of Maine and Finland, only a few could tell the difference at first look. Both have a history of harvesting the forest. Both, over the last several years, have seen mill closures and a change in the paper industry. Over the last decade, Finland has invested financially, and with research and development, to make their forest industry into a thriving, sustainable bioeconomy. Maine leaders want to make a carbon-copy if you will.

t’s not seen as a competition, Finnish and Maine leaders see it as an opportunity to grow together.

The Finland-Maine trade and study mission was scheduled to take place in June. COVID-19 changed the travel plans but it didn’t stop the goal, focusing on 100% resource utilization from the forest industry.

“There was so much excitement around this trip that we didn’t want to cancel,” Dana Eidsness, Director of the Maine North Atlantic Development Office at the Maine International Trade Center. “We had to be a little clever and come up with a way to move forward and the solution we came up with was to condense a week-long trade and study mission into two webinars and online business matchmaking.”

Currently, 37 Maine companies are signed up for the August 20 webinar. Eidsness says 35 have already expressed interest in the matchmaking component. This could mean an increase in exports for both the state and companies, new buyers or distributors, and partners.

Watch on News Center Maine

Forest economies in focus at MITC virtual mission to Finland

Less than a year after Gov. Janet Mills and Finland’s prime minister at the time agreed to strengthen their respective forest economies, a virtual trade and study mission that kicks off this week aims to open doors for companies from both countries.

The mission, organized by the Maine International Trade Center’s Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO), kicks off with a webinar today, to be followed by two further webinars in August and an online business-to-business company matchmaking in September.

Read article on Mainebiz

Initial numbers on COVID-19 and its impact on Maine exports

The Maine International Trade Center released initial data through April about the impact the pandemic has had on Maine industries.

As COVID-19 spread across the world, industries came to a crippling halt. In Maine, it was a similar trend. Workers left without jobs, others limited to working at home, governmental restrictions on travel and business operations, we knew it was bad for the economy, but now we are getting a glimpse at the preliminary pandemic numbers.

Watch on News Center Maine


For Wade Merritt, heading the Maine International Trade Center is no foreign task

Wade Merritt is president of the Maine International Trade Center and the state’s director of international trade. The Bangor native sat down with Mainebiz at MITC’s Portland Fish Pier headquarters to chat about his unconventional path to international relations and how his organization helps Maine businesses tap into foreign markets.

Mainebiz: How did you get into this field of work?

WM: Funny story! I grew up in Bangor, and my father ran the catering operation at Bangor International Airport. There were a lot of international flights that were coming through there, a lot of European tourist charters that would be making their way from the U.K. down to Florida and would have to stop in Bangor to take on fuel and food. From a very early age, my dad would have clients and vendors over to the house. They would come over because they would cater the aircraft on the next leg down, so I grew up with a soda can collection from Italy and Mexico and Germany and the U.K that I still have. We’d also have newspapers that would come off the flights and end up in our house. My first job, the summer when I was about 15 or 16 years old, was working for my dad, taking garbage off of international flights and throwing it into, essentially, a pressure cooker. Believe it or not, that’s what triggered my international interest.

Read more on Mainebiz


Lobster on the line: China loves Maine lobster, but Trump’s trade war means Canada is filling the demand

A gold and pink glow creeps over the horizon as Mandy Perry sets sail on her 43-foot boat. In the hours ahead, she and her two-man crew will tend to dozens of wooden lobster traps, plucking out the day’s flailing haul in an instinctive, fluid motion before restocking the traps with frozen mackerel and red fish and sending them back out to sea.

“When fishing does good, everybody else in the community does good,” said Perry, 30, one of a handful of female captains in these waters.

It’s here, off the coast of its smallest province, where Canada has emerged the surprise winner of a protracted trade war between the United States and China. Beijing’s tariffs on American lobster have gutted exports of the quintessential Maine delicacy, stripping the industry of its Chinese customers without any assurance they will return — and positioning Canada to fill the growing demand, perhaps permanently.

Read article on The Washington Post

Maine pact with Finland kicks off first day of Arctic Circle Assembly

Gov. Janet Mills and the prime minister of Finland, Antti Rinne, signed an agreement today to collaborate in the fight against climate change while strengthening their respective forest economies.

Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, the two inked a memorandum of understanding on the first day of a three-day international gathering, the Arctic Circle Assembly, where Mills is leading Maine’s largest-ever delegation of more than 60 participants.

The accord calls for Maine and Finland to mutually strengthen their forest-based industries, which are cornerstones of both bio-economies, and enhancing forest sustainability in the face of changing climate.

Read full article on Mainebiz

Maine sends largest delegation to Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland

Maine will be represented by the largest delegation at the Arctic Circle Assembly on October 10 – 12 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Governor Janet Mills will lead the Maine delegation of over 60 individuals representing Maine businesses, academic institutions, and state and local governments. In addition to a plenary session speech by Governor Mills, 10 Mainers will share their knowledge as presenters/panelists in workshops and breakout sessions on topics ranging from ocean food systems and changes in global fisheries, to sustainable tourism and youth mental health issues.

Read more on Maritime News

Northern exposure: Championing Maine’s interests in the North Atlantic

As director of Maine International Trade Center’s Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO), Dana Eidsness works to develop trade, investment and international collaboration opportunities for Maine businesses and academic institutions in northern Europe, Atlantic Canada and Nordic countries.

Mainebiz: What triggered your interest in the international field?

Dana Eidsness: When I was a kid, my parents sold everything we had and bought a red pick-up truck with a camper on the back and we traveled for a couple of years. At one point we lived on a beach in Manzanillo, Mexico, and later in Mexico City. Later at Portland High School, I was fortunate to be exposed to a variety of international history courses as well as a robust foreign language program where I studied French, Russian and Mandarin. The summer before my senior year, I went to Beijing to study Mandarin. I went on to study international service and development and then international relations and import/export management in college, started my career in the private sector importing consumer goods and textiles, and later moved into international business development and trade policy.

Read full interview on Mainebiz