Schaefer's Trade Trip

May 27, 1992

You can't blame Gov. William Donald Schaefer for being touchy about his trips abroad. He's come under considerable criticism for lavish state spending on some of these overblown -- and vastly overstaffed -- missions. Yet all of these travels served the state's interests quite well and furthered Maryland's economic development efforts. His next trip, starting today, could prove one of his most successful.

To begin with, it has a bare-bones entourage: only six people, including the governor and his state trooper. No social companions, corporate hangers-on or bureaucrats eager to see the sights at state expense. And it's a working trip. The idea is to cement relations with overseas companies already doing business in Maryland and to lure hot prospects here.

There are some added opportunities, too. The governor will address graduates of University College in Heidelberg, Germany, a key part of the University of Maryland's overseas educational system. That will help elevate the state's profile in Europe. So will Mr. Schaefer's stop in the new Republic of Slovenia and his meeting with Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, the first such visit by an American governor. The goal: win Slovenian backing for an air traffic control system manufactured by Westinghouse at its Linthicum plant.

Another key stopover will be Genoa, Italy, where the governor and transportation officials will meet with Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. -- a candidate for the Seagirt Marine Terminal -- and Italian Line, a former Port of Baltimore customer that could be enticed to return now that conditions in the port have improved dramatically.

Other stops in Italy and England will be aimed at solidifying Maryland investments by overseas companies. The hope is to get these companies to expand operations in the state while encouraging other overseas firms to do likewise.

International trade is an important long-term growth area for this state. That's why it is important for Maryland to send the governor overseas. The current European trip, with its limited itinerary and abbreviated entourage, should pay off handsomely in the years ahead.

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