Author Archives: Cheryl Rau

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

Tariff relief sought for Maine’s apple growers

Two months after Maine’s Congressional delegation sought federal relief for lobstermen and wild blueberry growers harmed by China’s retaliatory trade tariffs, the feds are being urged to help the state’s apple growers.

“As larger apple producers in the western U.S. are no longer able to export as much product to markets such as China and India, those apples are sent to the eastern U.S., flooding the domestic market,” Collins and Golden wrote to Perdue Sept. 11. “This is especially harmful for smaller growers like those in Maine who rely predominantly on the domestic market for sales.”

Collins and Golden requested that Perdue obtain U.S. Department of Agriculture relief through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program or “any other department trade relief programs.” The ATP program is the one from which Maine’s delegation sought funds in July for the lobster industry.

Read full article on Mainebiz

MITC lands $344K for international trade expansion

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that $344,500 has been awarded to Maine International Trade Center to support export growth among the state’s small businesses.

The money comes through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program.

“Small businesses must continually seek new markets and new customers in order to grow and thrive,” Amy Bassett, SBA’s district director for Maine, said in a news release. “Maine small businesses like Blue Barn recognize that diversifying sales through exporting provides significant opportunity to expand and the STEP grant can help make that happen.”

In the past year, Blue Barn LLC, Scarborough-based maker of  the Bluet brand of blueberry wines, was among Maine companies that used STEP funds to expand internationally, showcasing its wines at the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. RainWise Inc., a Trenton maker of weather forecasting equipment, used STEP funds to attend a trade show in Switzerland. Others revamped marketing campaigns and visited customers in foreign markets.

This is the seventh straight year MITC has received a STEP grant. In 2018, the center was awarded $345,000 in STEP funding, up from $195,000 in 2017.

Read full article on Mainebiz

Maine receives grant to help exporters

Maine International Trade Center, which helps Maine businesses export their goods and services, received a $344,500 grant from the federal government to increase overseas sales.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the award was granted through the SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program. It is the seventh consecutive year that MITC received funding through the STEP program.

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

Greenland foreign minister keen to strengthen ties with Maine

Connecting Portland to the Greenland capital of Nuuk via a shipping route set to open in 2020 will be a “game changer” for both sides, Greenland’s minister of education, culture, church and foreign affairs told Mainebiz on Thursday.

She was in town for a roundtable discussion and luncheon with representatives of institutions including the Maine International Trade Center’s Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO) and members of the Maine North Atlantic and Arctic Education Consortium.

The consortium represents more than 13 colleges, universities and institutions in Maine supporting Arctic and North Atlantic academic programs and partnerships.

Seeking to build on existing collaborations in the educational field, Bagger spoke of forging closer trade and tourism ties — in both directions — and said she sees Maine as a gateway to other North American markets for Greenland exports.

Read full article on Mainebiz

Maine Beer Box brings 78 craft beer taps to Canada

The Maine Beer Box just completed its third international trip with a stop at the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Seaport Cider and Beer Festival last weekend.

With 78 taps and more than 100 Mainers pouring craft beer from the giant “kegerator,” the Maine Beer Box is helping to develop export markets for Maine craft brewers.

New international business has some brewers seeking out export credit insurance to protect them as they explore new markets.

Maine had representatives from more than 40 breweries at the festival. There were more than 6,000 attendees.

Read full article on Mainebiz