Gov. Paul LePage will be leading a delegation of Maine businesses and educational institutions on a trade mission to Japan and China this October, with the goal of luring investment to the state, attracting international students to Maine schools and promoting Maine exports, particularly lobsters.

The trade mission, organized by the Maine International Trade Center and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, will visit the cities of Tokyo and Shanghai.

Special sessions are being coordinated to highlight Maine lobsters and Maine as an investment location, according to a statement by the Maine International Trade Center, a quasi-state agency that promotes trade.

The export demand for Maine lobster has shifted from traditional markets in Europe to Asia. The demand is fueled by the growing middle class in China. Export figures reflect the growing appetite in China for lobsters, where export revenues jumped from zero in 2007 to $15.2 million in 2013. China is now the top destination outside North America for Maine lobster. Sales in 2014 were on pace to double 2013’s sales.

Hong Kong, a former British colony that is now a special administrative region within China, was the second-leading overseas export destination for Maine lobster in 2013. The value of exports to Hong Kong increased from near-zero in 2007 to $6 million in 2013.

LePage in a statement said that he is looking forward to educate Asian importers about the “superior quality of Maine lobsters, as well as many of our excellent Maine-manufactured products.”


Together, China and Japan imported $281.7 million of Maine products in 2014, ranking second and fourth respectively among the state’s leading export destinations. Leading sectors include food/seafood, biotech/medical products and industrial machinery. The U.S. Commercial Service has identified environmental technologies, renewable energy and travel and tourism as having good potential for export success.

In addition, both China and Japan have become important sources of investment capital, with companies such as Woodland Pulp (Baileyville), World Harbors (Auburn) and Somic America (Brewer). All these companies are owned by Japanese or Chinese parent companies.

Chinese and Japanese companies increasingly look at overseas investments as a pathway to growth, said Janine Bisaillon-Cary, president of the Maine International Trade Center.

The trade mission will also focus on attracting international students to Maine’s secondary and post-secondary educational institutions.

The Maine delegation will spend Oct. 25-27 in Tokyo before moving on to Shanghai and will return to the U.S. on Oct. 31. All companies in Maine are welcome to register. Information about costs and deadlines is available at

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