AUGUSTA (AP) — Maine Gov. Paul LePage will lead a trade mission to Hong Kong and China this fall, marking his first overseas mission as governor as well as the first time a sitting Maine governor has visited China, officials said Monday.

The delegation is going to a region where there are growth opportunities for blueberries, frozen lobster tails, pulp and paper, and other products from Maine, LePage said.

“Asia represents an increasingly important market,” LePage said.

China is Maine’s thirdlargest export destination, and the state exported $275 million worth of goods to China last year, according to the Maine International Trade Center, which will be coordinating the mission with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The trade mission from Sept. 8-15 coincides with the Asian Seafood Exposition in Hong Kong where Maine seafood companies expect to exhibit. Maine lobster exports have grown from $110,000 in 2010 to nearly $1.5 million in 2011.

The delegation will focus on international education. About 1,000 Chinese students are currently enrolled in the state’s schools, mostly high schools.

Participating businesses will pick up the tab for the governor and a security officer, so it won’t be a taxpayersubsidized trip, his office said.

LePage was scheduled to lead his first trade mission last fall to Chile and Brazil, but he backed out to focus on the supplemental budget currently before the Legislature.



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