Governor Steve Beshear today announced that in June he will lead an international business trade mission to Toronto, Canada, which is the Commonwealth's number one export destination.
The visit will be the first-ever Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI) trade mission, with the goal of increasing commerce between Kentucky and Canada.
Interested companies may register to take part in the trade mission, which will run from June 4 through June 7. The trip will feature a reception on June 5 to celebrate and help build business relationships between Kentucky and Canadian companies.
"We do a tremendous amount of business with Canada, exporting more than $7 billion in products and services a year to our northern neighbors, but there is plenty of room to grow," said Gov. Beshear. "This trade mission will give Kentucky businesses the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings, open avenues to increase sales and explore a market that's only an 11-hour drive from Kentucky."
The trip comes after a banner export year for Kentucky in 2012, with $22 billion in sales of Kentucky-made products and services setting an all-time annual record. Kentucky exports to 199 nations, but Canada is the overwhelming number one destination, with $7.3 billion in products and services in 2012, leading Mexico ($1.7 billion) and the United Kingdom ($1.5 billion) in the top three.
Kentucky exports to Canada have played a key role in boosting the Commonwealth's economy. In 2012, Kentucky's exports of products and services to Canada generated $3.2 billion for Kentucky's GDP, supported more than 38,000 jobs in the Commonwealth, and created $245 million in state and local taxes for Kentucky.
Gov. Beshear created KEI to bring together agencies and organizations to help facilitate international trade opportunities for Kentucky businesses. Comprised of government entities, business organizations and trade experts, the KEI partnership includes the Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, World Trade Center Kentucky, Kentucky Association for Economic Development and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
"To achieve success in today's world, we have to be focused on the global marketplace, not only for Kentucky manufacturing, but other products and services as well," said Greg Higdon, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers. "We make world-class products in Kentucky, and this trade mission to Canada is something successful business owners can use to become even more profitable, drawing upon the support of the Kentucky Export Initiative."
"Kentucky's exporting numbers are on the right track, and that is exactly why we need to take advantage of our momentum," said Dave Adkisson, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. "We've proven we can have tremendous success in Canada, and the more businesses we can engage in exporting, the more our economy can grow as a whole."