December 6, 2013

Maine group to boost trade in North Atlantic region

The Maine International Trade Center creates a new North Atlantic office as dignitaries from Iceland visit Portland Friday.

by Tom Bell
Staff Writer

The Maine International Trade Center has created a new office to promote trade between Maine and nations in the North Atlantic.

click image to enlarge

A reach stacker works in the Eimskip yard in Reykjavik. One like it is expected to arrive by ship from its manufacturer in Sweden before the end of the year to replace a 13-year-old reach stacker in Portland that is wearing out due to the increased workloads at the International Marint Terminal since Eimskip arrived in the port last spring.

Photo by Tom Bell / Staff Writer

The Maine North Atlantic Development Office, as it will be called, will coordinate its activities with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development,

Icelandic Ambassador Gudmundur Stefansson and Trade Commissioner Consul Hlynur Gudjonsson are visiting Portland Friday and meeting with officials from the LePage administration, including DECD Commissioner George Gervais, Department of Transportation Commissioner Dave Bernhardt and Maine Port Authority Director John Henshaw.

Also at the meeting are Janine Cary, president of Maine International Trade Center, and officials from Eimskip, the Icelandic ship company that last spring moved its north American headquarters from Norfolk, Va., to Portland.

The company established the first direct container service between Maine and Europe in 33 years. Its container vessels, which call on Portland every two weeks, travel to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Iceland and Norway.

Eimskip offers connecting service to other nations in Northern Europe, from as far north as Russia to as far south as Germany, and also to Greenland.

Portland is the company’s only U.S. port of call.

The new Maine North Atlantic Development Office will work to increase trade between Maine and nations served by Eimskip and also coordinate potential trade missions to Iceland and Northern Europe in the upcoming year.

“We see this as a key opportunity to grow Maine’s economy through exports and imports, as well as developing Maine as a distribution hub for both Icelandic and Northern European goods,” Cary said in a statement on Friday.

Businesses and economic development organizations on Friday will be attending an Icelandic Business Roundtable at 3 p.m. at the Maine International Trade Center office in Portland. Stefansson and Gudjonsson will be making presentations. They will be holding a press conference at 5 p.m. at the center’s Portland office.

On Friday evening, Eimskip will be celebrating the new partnership between Iceland and Maine at its first annual Christmas Charity Event at Ocean Gateway Terminal. Acting Administrator Jeanne A. Hulit of the federal Small Business Administration will speak on small business export opportunities. Proceeds will go to the Center for Grieving Children.

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