Author Archives: Cheryl Rau

Maine dealers anxious to restore lobster trade

Although “gut-punched” by a U.S.-China trade war, most Maine lobster dealers would try to recapture the China market if ongoing trade talks prove successful.

“What happens if China tariffs disappear tomorrow? I think you see a bunch of lobster companies from the United States board planes and go to China to rebuild the relationships they had with their Chinese customers,” said Annie Tselikis, director of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association. “Some may shift their practice and refocus their efforts, but … I think everybody is going to do as much as they possibly can to regain their business there.”

Chinese importers would welcome them back, too, happy to be rid of the high prices, seasonal shortages and logistical headaches of buying just Canadian lobster.

“Eventually, I think China and the U.S. should get along,” said Helen Gao, the head international buyer for Gfresh, China’s leading online seafood wholesaler. “We are the two biggest economies in the world. We should have a better trade relationship. … Right now there may be some pain, not just for U.S. suppliers, but for us, as well, because we only import seafood and U.S. is our biggest source region. We just have to hang in there.”

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

Paper company expands operations in US

A Chinese paper company is using its investments in American properties that employ more than 1,000 as part of its global expansion strategy.

Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd, the largest container board producer in China, which operates three pulp and paper mills in the US and plans to open a fourth this summer, was honored by the Maine International Trade Center with its Foreign Direct Investment of the Year award Tuesday.

“They are one of the largest players (in China) and one of the largest — three or four (paper) companies — in the world,” said William Moore of Moore & Associates, an Atlanta-based paper recycling consulting firm. He added that Nine Dragons is a publicly traded company with a stock listing on the Hong Kong exchange.

ND Paper, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper Holdings, officially began in June 2018 with the purchase of North American pulp/paper mills in Rumford, Maine, and Biron, Wisconsin. The company later acquired a mill in Fairmount, West Virginia, according to Brian Boland, vice-president of government affairs and corporate initiatives at the company.

“Nine Dragons has aspirations to be a global company, and [the investments help] us to expand into a stable and mature market,” Boland said. The American investments also enable the company to diversify its supply chain, he added.

Last fall the company announced $300 million in strategic investments in the Maine and Wisconsin mills. Shortly after that, ND Paper unveiled the purchase of a shuttered mill in Old Town, Maine, that is expected to reopen this summer.

Boland said the company employs about 650 at the Rumford mill, 350 in Wisconsin and 130 when the Old Town mill resumes operations.

“We appreciate the investment by Nine Dragon Paper in Rumford and Old Town. We look forward to a long-term partnership that supports and grows the forest products industry and its workers,” said Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Economic and Community Development department.

Read full article on China Daily

Maine trade association honors three companies

Three Maine companies and one educational institution were recognized by the state’s trade association for their growth in global markets.

Maine International Trade Center annually recognizes companies that are growing exports. Last year, 2,087 Maine companies exported $2.8 billion in goods and services to 169 countries. The state’s top exports are seafood, semiconductors, aircraft parts and forest products.

Auburn Manufacturing in Auburn and Mechanic Falls won exporter of the year. The award recognizes a manufacturer that has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to international trade through increased exports. The company makes heat resistant textiles, such as fabrics, ropes, woven tapes, blankets and pads that can withstand high heat to the point of being fire resistant. Exports account for 25-30 percent of its sales.

In 2017, CEO Kathie Leonard filed a petition claiming Chinese manufacturers were dumping large amounts of unfairly subsidized heat resistant fabric into the U.S. market and won. The favorable ruling placed a 200-300 percent duty on the Chinese products. Leonard said they are slowly gaining back lost business and looking forward to adding more employees to the 52 who currently work at the company.

Read full article in Portland Press Herald

Auburn Manufacturing, Luke’s Lobster among MITC award winners

Auburn Manufacturing, Luke’s Lobster Seafood Co. and Thornton Academy are among the 2019 International Trade and Investment Awards honorees, unveiled by the Maine International Trade Center on Tuesday.

The three, along with ND Paper/Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd., a Chinese-owned investor in mills in Rumford and Old Town, are being recognized for their commitment to growth in international markets.

Last year, 2,087 Maine companies exported $2.7 billion in goods and services to 169 countries. Top exports are seafood, semiconductors, aircraft parts and forest products.

Auburn Manufacturing, led by 2018 Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year honoree Kathie Leonard, was named Exporter of the Year, awarded to a manufacturer that has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to international trade through increased exports.

The maker of heat-resistant textiles has plants in Mechanic Falls and Auburn.

“Not everyone is going to work in IT or science,” Leonard said in a news release announcing the awards. “Manufacturing jobs are good jobs. They pay a living wage with good benefits, and we need that for a lot of people in this country.”

Read full article in Mainebiz

Auburn Manufacturing, Rumford’s ND Paper mill honored with international trade awards

In 2018, Maine companies exported goods and services to 169 countries around the globe. Kathie Leonard shipped to 38 of them.

The Maine International Trade Center on Tuesday named Leonard’s Auburn Manufacturing its Exporter of the Year in the 2019 International Trade and Investment Awards.

Auburn Manufacturing, in Auburn and Mechanic Falls, specializes in heat-resistant textiles.

“Not everyone is going to work in IT or science,” Leonard said in a press release. “Manufacturing jobs are good jobs. They pay a living wage with good benefits, and we need that for a lot of people in this country.”

MITC also named ND Paper/Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited its Foreign Direct Investor of the Year.

The Chinese company bought and invested in the Rumford paper mill last year and plans to reopen a paper mill in Old Town this summer.

Read full article in the Sun Journal

How These 2 Entrepreneurs Turned an Urban Seafood Shack Into a $60 Million Empire

Luke Holden and Ben Conniff started a small chain of simple lobster shacks. Then they started thinking much bigger.

Step into one of the 39 Luke’s Lobster locations from New York City to Taiwan and it’s easy to pretend you’re visiting a classic New England seafood shack: Diners order at simple wooden counters, sit at rough-hewn tables, and munch on a limited (and exceedingly tasty) menu of lobster, crab, and shrimp rolls and chowders, accompanied by simple bags of potato chips. But the Saco, Maine- and Brooklyn-based company’s restaurants are actually the last step in an extensive, tightly integrated seabed-to-table operation–one that nearly broke the founders, Luke Holden and Ben Conniff, when they first attempted to set it up.

Read full article on Inc.

Once stymied by China tariff, lobster dealer finds a workaround

Tom Adams, CEO of Maine Coast lobster wholesale company in York, said he’s found ways to make up revenue that was lost when a 25% tariff was implemented last July on imports of lobster to China.

The tariff has taken a bite out of his company’s sales, Adams said. Previously, China had been Maine Coast’s fastest growing market, but the tariff eliminated 80% of Maine Coast’s sales to mainland China.

Overall, the value of live Maine lobsters exported to China dropped 64% in July 2018, compared with July 2017, industry experts said last year.

China now gets most of its lobster from Canada.

Adams told Mainebiz an aggressive marketing campaign has resulted in significant sales increases in other parts of Asia and in the U.S., and in retention of European sales even though that market was also disadvantaged by an 8% tariff over Canadian competitors. Other Asian countries include Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.

“While we are able to make up a lot of that sales volume in different markets, it was challenging,” Adams said.

Read full article on Mainebiz

 

Maine exporters saw a 4% increase last year, but wonder about lost potential

Trade tensions and tariffs between the United States and key trading partners blunted what may have been a banner year for Maine exports.

The state shipped $2.8 billion worth of commodities and manufactured goods overseas in 2018, a 4 percent bump from the year before, but less than in 2016, according to federal data.

Last year was a modest gain for the state, especially amid worsening trade conditions between the U.S. and countries such as China and Canada, said Wade Merritt, president of the Maine International Trade Center. “Four percent is a good, solid year for us,” he said.

But the final result is a far cry from where Maine started out.

Read full article on Portland Press Herald

China trade war cost tops $40 billion a year in lost U.S. exports

Chinese retaliation against President Trump’s tariffs is hitting U.S. exporters harder than their Chinese counterparts and costing the U.S. the equivalent of about $40 billion a year in lost exports, according to a new study that highlights the mounting costs to the U.S. economy of the trade war against China.

U.S. tariffs imposed last year on some $250 billion in imports from China slowed shipments of the targeted products to U.S. shores, according to findings from the Institute of International Finance published earlier this year. Now, a new IIF study of China’s retaliation has found that countertariffs had a far more severe impact on U.S. exports, leading to a collapse in many of the roughly 900 categories of targeted American products.

That slump came at a real cost to the U.S. economy. In calculations done for Bloomberg, the IIF economists found that between July and November of last year, the value of lost exports topped $17 billion, according to Sergi Lanau, the IIF’s deputy chief economist. That’s an annualized hit of about $40 billion, or almost a third of the record $130 billion the U.S. exported to China in 2017.

Maine has seen the most dramatic impact from tariffs on its export of live lobster to China. Before the tariffs were imposed last summer, U.S. lobster exports were on pace to double from 2017’s $128.5 million.

But through November, U.S. exports of live lobster totaled about $137 million, slightly ahead of 2017’s annual value. About 80 percent of all U.S. lobster shipped to China is caught by Maine lobstermen.

Read full article on centralmaine.com