President’s Memo

Dear MITC Members and Friends,

When Franklin Roosevelt first proclaimed World Trade Week back in 1935, I’m fairly certain that social media posts, e-mail blasts, and hashtags were not on his mind. This year, we’re celebrating World Trade Month. Although the delivery modes have changed a lot, one thing that has not is the idea that global markets were, as they are today, a vehicle for economic recovery and growth.

The economic benefits are unquestionable. In a typical year, Maine’s exports contribute a little less than $3 billion to the state’s economy, about 4% of gross state product but about a third of what we manufacture or process. Our leading export market continues to be our neighbors and friends in Canada, while our most vital exported product is lobster, $400 million of which was sold in 30 markets worldwide last year. International business impacts 181,000 jobs, or 1 in 5. Over 2,000 businesses report making an export sale, and more than 30,000 people work for a company with international ownership. It is critical that we keep the internationally engaged segment of the economy moving forward, and important that we show businesses – and their workers – that they have a place in the global market.

World Trade Month and Maine International Trade Day are meant to highlight that impact: discussing the importance of the global economy to the State of Maine and highlighting the impressive successes of businesses here who are getting it done. This year’s award winners were chosen before the pandemic struck in 2020, and their stories from the past 14 months are those of resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges. I hope you’ll join me in congratulating them and wishing them well for 2021 and beyond.

Looking ahead, MITC’s team is hard at work on strategic planning, examining and updating processes as we begin to emerge from this unusual time. We will be revising the guidelines and allowable uses of funds under our STEP program to expand exports beyond trade events and training. In addition, we’ll begin revisioning our trade education services to take advantage of lessons learned during the pandemic. We’re excited about this evolution.

Our hope is to return to an in-person event for Trade Day 2022 next May at the Samoset Resort. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing you online for this year’s event!

All the best,

photo of wade merritt, president and state director of international trade