Glendening in Far East to talk trade Governor is visiting Taiwan first, then goes to South Korea

$85,000 tab for taxpayers

He seeks to expand port business and boost exports


November 11, 1996|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening and a few deputies are in Taiwan en route to South Korea for his second international trade trip, focusing on building business for Baltimore's ports and boosting exports to the Far East.

"We think there's a tremendous opportunity there, particularly because we have good relationships with several Taiwanese companies already," Glendening said before he left Friday. "Both Taiwan and South Korea have major, expanding economies."

Among those accompanying Glendening are James Brady, secretary of business and economic development; James Hughes, Brady's trade director; Tay Yoshitani, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration; and Theodore E. Mathison, administrator of Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The trip, which will cost taxpayers about $85,000, is "primarily about developing further opportunities for the port and airport, as well as increasing our export potential," Glendening said.

Baltimore's port has been losing volume as international shipping lines defect to Norfolk, Va., and BWI could handle more international flights than it does now.

Part of Glendening's job will be to reassure Evergreen and other big Asian shipping lines that dredging will allow long-term port access for big ships. He also must sell them on the port's competitiveness no matter what happens in the current railway battle between Norfolk Southern Corp. and CSX Corp. for Conrail Inc.

He has to tout BWI's numerous advantages over Dulles and Washington National to airline officials. And he'll meet with high-ranking government officials in both countries. Also, Brady is making a side trip to China, Glendening said.

Governors often get criticized for overseas junkets, but their defenders say Americans often underestimate the influence that high state officials wield in other countries.

"When you get a delegation led by a governor or higher, people realize that you are endorsing the mission, and they will match that level from their side," said Penelope Menzies, executive director of the Maryland World Trade Center Institute, an export-import resource that gets a fourth of its budget from the state.

"Overseas, government is what makes deals work," she added. "It's a very different method than we have here in the states."

In Taiwan, Glendening was to meet the president, premier and the governor. On Wednesday he is scheduled to attend a reception by the Korean American Friendship Society and to meet with Korean President Kim Young-sam and top ministers.

He'll also visit a Korean hospital operated by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins and will go to Pusan, Maryland's sister state in Korea.

Taiwan accounted for 7 percent of Maryland exports last year, or $441 million in sales, said Charles Porcari, spokesman for the Department of Business and Economic Development. Taiwan buys products from Towson-based Baltimore Orthotics, Baltimore-based RTKL Associates and dozens of other Maryland companies.

Maryland shipped $104 million in goods to South Korea in 1995, including many from Towson-based Black & Decker Corp., making up 1.7 percent of its exports.

International trade accounts for 200,000 Maryland jobs, or 8 percent of the economy, Glendening said.

Glendening has set a goal of almost doubling Maryland's annual exports to $9 billion by the end of the decade. Trade experts say the mark is ambitious, but they're encouraged by booming Asian economies, a competitive dollar and the hope of recovery for European economies.

Pub Date: 11/11/96

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