Germany Chosen For MN’s 2nd-Ever Int’l Trade Office

The Dusseldorf-Cologne area of Germany was selected for the state’s new foreign trade office; Minnesota’s only other trade office opened in Shanghai, China, in 2005.

Governor Mark Dayton joined state officials Wednesday to announce that the Dusseldorf-Cologne area of Germany will be the site for a new foreign trade office, which is opening as part of an effort to promote Minnesota exports and foreign direct investment in the state.

Dayton is currently traveling with 35 business executives, higher education leaders, and fellow government officials throughout Europe on a trade mission—exploring potential partnerships and trade opportunities.

The new office is the first of three that will be opened internationally as part of a previously announced initiative aimed at increasing Minnesota’s competitiveness on the global stage. The other two sites have not been announced.

“As Minnesota continues to compete on a global scale, increasing exports and attracting new foreign direct investment are top priorities in our roadmap to long-term economic success,” Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), said in a statement. “Germany’s central location in Europe and its strong economy make this region an excellent choice for one of our new trade offices.”

Currently the state only has one other foreign trade office, located in Shanghai, China. Minnesota opened its Shanghai office in 2005, after which, state exports to China increased 71 percent in the first year. According to DEED, Pennsylvania invested $6 million in 2011 to open 10 foreign trade offices, an effort credited with helping fuel $831 million in export sales and more than 6,800 jobs.

In 2012, Minnesota companies set a new export record of $20.6 billion, up $246 million from 2011. The state’s top exports are in machinery, optic and medical instruments, and vehicles—most of which are exported to all of the European countries Dayton’s delegation is visiting.

According to DEED, Germany was the state’s fifth-largest export market in 2012, accounting for $728 million in sales. The largest Minnesota exports to Germany last year were machinery ($209 million) and optic and medical instruments ($203 million).

Germany is also a major international source of foreign direct investment, ranking fifth in the world. German companies have invested $1.4 billion in plants, property, and equipment in Minnesota and employ 9,000 Minnesotans, according to DEED.

Geringhoff, a Germany-based farm equipment manufacturer, announced last year it would invest $20 million in its first North American factory in St. Cloud, which will create 100 jobs in the first phase of development.

The region of Germany that will house Minnesota’s new office also has locations for a number of large, well-known Minnesota companies, including 3M, Cargill, Medtronic, Carlson Companies, Ecolab, and St. Jude Medical, according to DEED.