Embracing international commerce is an important way for domestic businesses, small and large, to gain instant access to growing markets full of eager consumers. Maine’s college students majoring in international business look forward to an environment that supports international trade, as the state has made aggressive moves in the last decade to secure trade partners across the globe. Main-based companies now export goods and services to nearly 180 foreign countries.
According to the Business Roundtable, an association of top CEOs from America’s largest corporations, more than one in every five jobs in the state is dependant on foriegn trade. As such, businesses involved in international trade employ 181,000 workers and corporate professionals, accounting for almost 22% of all jobs in the state. What’s more, trade is an important catalyst for job growth, as is illustrated by the fact that in the last decade Maine-based firms involved in international export added jobs four times faster than non-exporting firms.
Maine’s International Trade Partners
According to the International Trade Administration’s 2010 report, more than 1,300 businesses based in Maine exported goods to foreign markets, which totalled $3.2 billion. Canada was Maine’s largest trade partner, with exports to the country totaling $1 billion, or 33% of the state’s total exports. The Asian markets were also among top recipients of goods and materials from Maine, with Malaysia receiving $850 million, China receiving $333 million and Korea receiving $99 million in exports from the state.
The Business Roundtable notes that Saudi Arabia is one of Maine’s fastest growing trade partners. Exports to Saudi Arabia increased from just $2 million in 2002 to $160.3 million in 2010, a more than 80-fold increase.
Maine’s top exports are computer and electronics products, which accounted for $1 billion, followed by paper products at $705 million and fish products at $226 million. Some major exporting companies based in the state include Cooke Aquaculture of Eastport, which ships whole salmon to Canada, Fraser Paper of Portland, which exports much of its inventory to India and Quality Eggs of New England, which supplies eggs to markets like China and Hong Kong.
According to information provided by the Maine Lobster Council, Lobster is very big business in the state. In fact, Maine lobstermen catch roughly 80% of the lobster harvested in the Unites States annually. Maine is also the country’s largest blueberry producer, and the state’s international business community is now actively working to go global with these two highly sought after products.
In 2010, a delegation of Chinese businessmen invited by Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler toured various agricultural and fishing-related facilities in the state in order to explore new export opportunities. Trade missions such as these will only continue to improve relationships with countries like China that require American exports to meet the needs of a growing population.
International Business Jobs in Maine
The state of Maine hosts facilities and offices for a number of major foreign-owned companies that bring millions in direct-investment capitol into the state. Multi-national companies employ 24,400 workers and account for 5% of all jobs in Maine, according to the Business Roundtable. This figure becomes higher in the manufacturing sector, where foreign-owned businesses account for 6,600 jobs, which represents over 11% of all jobs in Maine’s manufacturing sector.
Foreign-owned companies do not only create jobs, they can also save them in this uncertain economic climate. The International Grand Investment Corporation, a Chinese-based holding company, recently purchased a pulp mill in eastern Maine owned by Domtar, Inc. This purchase protected the mill’s 300 jobs and allowed the mill to continue to produce high-quality paper products.
Other multi-national companies that have operations in Maine include Degussa, a chemicals company, and Deutsche Telekom, both of Germany as well as McCain Foods of Canada.
As these companies continue to grow they will require the expertise of professionals with international business savvy to act as cultural advisors and liaisons, international business consultants, import compliance specialists, and international accountants.
Making International Business Contacts in Maine
Maine offers plenty of resources for those seeking information about careers in international business: