WisBusiness: Wisconsin international trade could be looking up in 2010

By Tracy Will

For WisBusiness.com

MADISON — Wisconsin’s international trade picture could be trending upward, based on reports from several Wisconsin Department of Commerce international trade reps.

Meeting with the Madison International Trade Association, trade reps from Brazil, China, Canada and Mexico offered upbeat scenarios for Wisconsin manufacturers with ties to those markets.

Mexico Representative Vicente Lencioni said, “Wisconsin manufacturers may not be selling equipment now, but they are seeing improved sales for parts, repairs, and rentals, all of which mean higher profit margins over their core businesses.”

While Wisconsin waits for U.S. banks to sort their way out of the financial meltdown of 2008, Canadian trade representative Nancy Ward told the group, “[the] Canadian banking system is more solid and more conservative, while we’ve seen impact from the U.S., we have remained in a more solid position.”

Ward said that Wisconsin manufacturers continue to benefit from the oil sands energy boom in western Canada. “Oil sands activity has slowed, she said, but its maintenance continues to be a strong performer,” for Wisconsin companies that service equipment used to extract oil.

“They’ve seen a 20 percent increase in that end of the business,” Ward said.


Paul Swenson’s report from China was also encouraging: “The Chinese market has bounced back very quickly from the international crisis, the Chinese economy has a closed a lot of the export industry and will not reopen it because the government has realized that the export-only economy has not been productive for China.”

“Recent delegations to Wisconsin have centered on the freshwater industry in Milwaukee and the Fox Valley,” said Madison International Trade Association president Ken Wasylik, which bodes well for long-term opportunity for manufacturers that China trusts to help it provide fresh water to people and industry.

Brazil representative Claudia Tomaselli reported solid business with Brazil, as the country has weathered economic problems well this year.

“The country has been facing the crisis well placed because it has a conservative banking system like Canada,” he said. Brazil also offers a way to learn about bio-fuel technology, he said, because gas is composed of 25 percent ethanol, and most vehicles produced there offer flex-fuel alternatives to reduce greenhouse gases.”