Members of Maine's trade mission to China returned with hope for new business deals and the possibility of attracting new foreign investment to Maine.
Janine Bisaillon-Cary, president of the Maine International Trade Center, which organized the trip, told the Bangor Daily News that she hopes to get investors into Maine within the next six months to a year through a special federal program — known as EB-5 — that grants green cards to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in rural enterprises that create at least 10 jobs.
"I think there's a lot of potential to do some projects in Maine, and over the next two years we could create a lot of jobs in this state," Chris Farmer, general manager of Saddleback Maine and president of USA Lifestyles Inc., an investment venture under the EB-5 program, told the BDN.
Farmer joined the trip to seek out Chinese investors for a $15 million to $20 million project through USA Lifestyles at Saddleback. So far, Bisaillon-Cary told the BDN that she is only aware of one Chinese investment in the state, through the Hong Kong-based International Grand Investment Corp.'s purchase of a pulp mill in Baileyville.
No definitive business deals were reported from the trip, but businesses looking to increase exports to Maine's third-largest foreign market and education officials hoping to build relationships with Chinese schools told the BDN that the trip helped build those relationships.
Bisaillon-Cary told the BDN that the MITC will survey the participating businesses in the next several weeks to gauge the outcomes of the trip and an MITC staffer will make a return trip in November to follow up with potential investors.
The trade mission's return was followed Monday by increasing trade tension between the U.S. and China. The Associated Pressreported that China on Monday filed a World Trade Organization case challenging the U.S. Commerce Department's imposition of anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods.