The surging buying power of the U.S. dollar has allowed consumers to benefit from cheaper imports and bargain-priced vacations abroad, but Maine’s manufacturers must now struggle to compete in a new global marketplace in which their products have suddenly become more costly.
“The rising dollar is a real threat,” said Kathie Leonard, the CEO of Auburn Manufacturing Inc., whose 50 employees in Auburn and Mechanic Falls make heat-resistant textiles. “It hurts us. I don’t know the extent it will be. I am scared to death, to tell you the truth.”
Maine-made products sold in Canada, for example, cost Canadians about 25 percent more now than a year ago. The dollar’s value has surged against all of America’s trading partners – up more than 16 percent against the Federal Reserve’s trade-weighted index of 26 other currencies.
Read the full article in the Portland Press Herald
Within five years, the Icelandic shipping company aims to offer weekly service, which it says customers expect.
Icelandic steamship line Eimskip has changed its routes to allow for more frequent container shipments between Europe and Portland, and to provide direct service across the Atlantic without having to transfer containers in Iceland – important steps for boosting its business in North America.
The change, which goes into effect next month, means Portland will be served by a rotation of three Eimskip vessels instead of two, and the frequency of service will increase to approximately once every 12 days instead of once every two weeks.
Read the full article in the Portland Press Herald
Maine’s exports to China include wood pulp for paper manufacturing and its famous lobster and seafood catch. Now with a newly opened office in Shanghai the New England state is going after more direct Chinese investment.
The office that the Maine International Trade Center (MITC) opened in the first week of January will have some trade capabilities, but it will be focused on foreign direct investment, according to Janine Bisaillon-Cary, president of MITC.
Read full article in China Daily
State exports double in six years, led by sales of potatoes, berries and seafood, especially to Asia.
Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp and Ripe Mango Sorbetto have been longstanding favorites at the Gelato Fiasco store in Brunswick, where the gelato maker has been serving its frozen treats for seven years. But in 2014, the business took on an international flavor.
Josh Davis, co-founder and CEO of Gelato Fiasco, traveled in June to the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Ningbo to meet with companies eager to buy his product, made with milk from Maine dairy farms. Now he’s filing the paperwork to export his gelato to Hong Kong, mainland China and South Korea.
“Even people not familiar with every detail of Maine get a good feeling about food products that come from Maine,” he said.
That observation is apparently widespread as seafood and agricultural commodities are driving much of the growth of Maine’s exports. International sales of Maine food products more than doubled between 2007 and 2013, according to federal trade data.
Read full article in Portland Press Herald
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show exports of Maine goods to other countries declined by 12 percent from 2012 to 2013.
The data, released for all 50 states Thursday, show Maine exported about $2.68 billion worth of goods in 2013, a decline of $370 million from $3.05 billion in 2012.
Exports to Canada, the state’s top trading partner, were up by 3.5 percent, an increase of $46 million for a total of $1.4 billion, but exports to China – a country state officials often have cited as having a large export growth potential – were down by 10 percent.
Some of the decline is the result of the way one Maine semiconductor maker is reporting its exports, said Janine Bisaillon-Cary, president of the Maine International Trade Center and state director for international trade.
Read full article on BDN Maine
Business between Maine and the Far East, particularly China, is heating up. Among the examples: one Portland-based company expects its Chinese subsidiary to turn a profit in the next couple years; another plans to soon test-market its product in China first [before the United States or elsewhere]; and the Maine International Trade Center plans to open up a Shanghai office in the first quarter of 2015, possibly as early as January, to encourage Chinese foreign direct investment in Maine.
“We’ve identified good quality and depth in [Maine’s] clusters and assets that could get international recognition — advanced materials and composites, products for aerospace including precision manufacturing, food processing and life sciences,” says Janine Bisaillon-Cary, president of MITC. “The Shanghai office will have some trade capabilities, but it will be focused on foreign direct investment.”
Read the full article in Mainebiz
As Maine companies seek to move business beyond their own shore, local law practices are guiding the way, vetting potential partners, assuring local and international laws and treaties are met, protecting intellectual property and handling disputes.
Fewer than a dozen Maine attorneys have international law as their primary practice, but dozens more are involved — ever more frequently — in real estate, commercial sales, trademark protection, taxes, contracts and other aspects of doing business overseas. While there may not be enough business yet for law firms to expand their ranks of full-time international lawyers, global market expertise is making its way into more law specialties and giving lawyers with that experience a leg up.
“International trade is a vital part of Maine’s history from colonial times,” says John Gulliver, senior partner at Pierce Atwood in Portland and head of the firm’s international group. “We were founded on the backbone of international trade.” He points to timber and textiles as early exports to Europe.
Read full article in Mainebiz
Mainers set the bar for bootstrapping their own businesses, but when it comes to thinking beyond the state’s borders, particularly globally, many stop short, citing a lack of time or money.
While I admire such common sense, international trade is a hobby horse of mine: before moving to Maine I spent a good part of my career reporting overseas. I also lived in Japan, an island nation that needs global trade to prosper. So living in a state with abundant resources of its own, but a limited local market, I’ve sought out companies to write about that have ventured beyond the state’s borders, and done so successfully.
Portland-based Tex Tech Industries Inc., which among other things makes 75% of the world’s tennis ball felt, makes only $1 million of its $63 million in worldwide revenues from local customers. Similarly, Kepware Technologies, a software company with $30 million in revenue last year, culled 50% of it internationally but less than 1% in Maine.
Read full article in Mainebiz
The $812,823 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration is to attract foreign investment to Maine.
The Maine International Trade Center has been selected for an $812,823 federal grant to attract foreign investment to Maine.
The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration announced Wednesday that the grant will be issued to MITC and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to establish a statewide “Invest in Maine” program to attract foreign direct investment to the state, according to a release from the commerce department.
See Portland Press Herald for full article
More aggressive promotion of Maine tourism and lobster on an international scale can open the doors to more diverse economic activity, a top European diplomat suggested Tuesday.
Rudolph Simon Bekink, ambassador to the U.S. for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, told an audience at the Portland office of the law firm Preti Flaherty on Tuesday afternoon that Maine can still do more to capitalize on its trademark seafood and vacation offerings on the international market.
Read the full article on BDN Maine