Next week, I will be joining Gov. Paul LePage and a delegation of Mainers on a seven-day trade mission to Hong Kong and Shanghai.

It marks the first time a Maine governor has led a trade mission to mainland China.

Our primary goal will be to generate more investment in Maine and promote Maine products and the Maine brand.

It’s clear Maine businesses are craving new export markets for their goods and services.

Last year, roughly 2,000 Maine companies exported a record $3.4 billion.

Maine exports to China, in particular, are up nearly 100 percent over the last five years.

The world’s second largest economy is now the state’s third largest foreign market with $275 million of Maine products exported in 2011.

All this means huge opportunity for Maine businesses to expand their sales in China, which in turn will boost the potential for new jobs being created here at home.

Thirteen Maine businesses and organizations are taking part in the trade mission. Through one-on-one matchmaking meetings they will have opportunities to build business relationships with commercial partners across a variety of sectors such as seafood, wood pulp, paper and paperboard, biotech and medical products, electrical machinery, industrial machinery and aircraft parts.

China is now the second largest market for medical devices because of an increasing demand for medical equipment.

For companies like Lighthouse Imaging in Portland, one of the many trade show participants, it is all about making face-to-face connections with those key importers and distributors. Lighthouse is looking to develop a Chinese market for their optical medical products.

All of us in the LePage administration are proud to have the opportunity to promote the Maine brand and let the folks in China in on what we already know: Made in Maine means quality.

George Gervais

Commissioner, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development

It’s time for richest people, companies to pay more taxes

How can this country get out of our financial mess?

Congress and the president have already agreed to more than $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years.

But cuts alone aren’t enough. We also need more revenue.

Where can we find that revenue? The middle class has lost jobs and homes and can barely make ends meet. The poor have lost services and jobs and are trying to survive.

Even in the recession and painfully slow recovery, the wealthiest Americans have been doing fine. They’ve benefited from tax cuts, special exceptions and loopholes that have let them pay less than their fair share over the past decade.

We need to be serious about debt reduction but also maintain vital public services and programs Americans depend on, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

It’s time for the richest people, and the corporations they own shares in, to do their patriotic duty by paying more in taxes. Mitt Romney has praised Israel’s economy, failing to mention that their top tax rate is 48 percent and they have socialized medicine.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill extending Bush-era tax cuts for the 98 percent of American families earning under $250,000 a year — but allowing the cuts to expire on the top 2 percent. This revenue would help pay off tens of billions of dollars in debt while continuing to fix roads, build schools, give the elderly medical care and offer other important public services.

Our two U.S. senators both voted against this bill, but they’ll get another chance to vote in November or December when Congress will debate the issue again.

If you believe that the wealthiest people and corporations should pay a fairer share of taxes, you may want to contact Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Ellen Field

New Gloucester

Chamber of Commerce ads are an unwarranted attack

The outrageous TV spots purchased by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce attacking Angus King’s record in Maine compel me to comment.

As the former president of two statewide Maine banks and a board member of many nonprofit organizations in Maine, I have known and worked with Angus for more than 20 years. I’ve served as a board member of local Chambers of Commerce in several communities, including Portland.

I cannot imagine why the U.S. Chamber would stoop to such an unwarranted, baseless attack on a candidate of Angus’ caliber, particularly when he has been such a great supporter of Maine businesses.

I agree completely with the comment by Kevin Hancock, president and CEO of Hancock Lumber, “Whoever made that ad knows nothing about (Angus). They know nothing about his values and they know nothing about how this state works.”

There is no one I know who could better represent Maine in the U.S. Senate. He is smart, thoughtful, probes all perspectives of a public policy issue, makes non-ideological decisions based on information and facts and has absolute integrity.

Angus works well with people who may disagree with him and learns from listening to their points of view. Having worked with several governors, many political leaders, Republicans, Democrats and independents as well as successful businesspeople in Maine, I can think of no one more able to be a positive influence in our dysfunctional U.S. Senate.

As an independent candidate, he has wisely chosen not to declare with which party he will caucus, giving him the best opportunity to address issues based on their merits rather than rigid ideology.

Weston L. Bonney

Portland

After reading your article on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce attack ad (“King TV ad puts state chamber in tough spot,” Aug. 19), I had one question. When did the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — whose very lifeblood depends on the American consumer — become the political enemy of that same consumer?

The state chamber and the local chambers have every right to be upset. In Maine, we have a tradition of making up our own minds. Out-of-state groups should be wary of trying to influence local politics. The attempts often backfire. You can’t get here from there.

Chris Queally

Scarborough