With trade tensions escalating between the United States and China and a growing economic toll on Maine businesses — particularly lobster dealers — Gov. Janet Mills is emphasizing international trade as a vital part of the state's future.
Mills gave the keynote speech Friday at a luncheon of more than 300 people who gathered at the Maine international Trade Day conference in Portland. They included dignitaries from Mexico, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, Finland and other countries.
In her remarks the governor criticized the Trump administration's aggressive implementation of tariffs as its chief economic policy.
"Engaging in trade wars is a risky proposition, with tremendous and possibly dangerous implications for Maine people,” Mills said. “The administration in Washington should be using a scalpel to improve trade, not a hammer."
Mills said that as many as 4400 jobs in Maine have been put at risk by the tariffs. She called on Maine's business community to invest in new partnerships and innovations that would move the state forward. Those could include a more formal trade arrangement with Finland, she said, where government and the private sector have succeeded in finding new markets for the country's traditional wood products industries.