22 August 2012

Maryland Opens First African Foreign Trade Office in Nigeria

Baltimore, MD – 22 August 2012 – As part of a continuing effort to expand Maryland’s global reach and identify new opportunities for trade and investment, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian S. Johansson today announced the opening of the State’s first foreign trade office in Africa. The office, which will be based in Nigeria, will operate entirely on a contingency basis, and funding will be based solely on the individual office representatives’ ability to attract companies and jobs to Maryland. 

Sub-Saharan Africa is the second fastest growing region in the world and it is a market that we want to explore,” said Secretary Johansson. “With this new office, we will not only be able to promote our State as a gateway to the U.S. market and attract African companies to Maryland, but also provide expert guidance to our businesses that want to access the African market.” 

The office will be run by Grid2Grid, based in Washington, D.C., and will provide additional support and resources to Maryland businesses looking to export to that region while seeking potential foreign direct investors. Countries covered by the regional office include Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Djibouti, Tanzania, Mozambique, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. 

The region was targeted as an ideal trade partner for Maryland because of a rapidly expanding African market, where demand for goods and services has increased dramatically both in the private and government sectors. Over the last decade, Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP growth has averaged 5.5 percent. According to the African Development Bank, the continent’s middle-class has tripled to more than 310 million people over the last 30 years, creating a new consumer class. 

“As an American company that specializes in emergent markets with a focus on Africa, we have been helping companies develop trade and investment projects on the continent for many years,” said Asoka Ranaweera, Managing Partner at Grid2Grid. “We are pleased to have been chosen to represent the State of Maryland and look forward to helping Maryland companies do business in Africa." 

In the past year, Maryland has attracted 15 foreign-owned companies, which are projected to add nearly 300 jobs to the State’s economy. The wins are a result of a number of targeted economic development missions to promote the State as a hub for global companies, including trade missions to China, South Korea, Vietnam and India, which together netted more than $145 million in trade and investment deals. 

Home to roughly 400 foreign-owned companies, Maryland is well-positioned for growth in the global market. Through its main office in Baltimore and 12 offices around the globe, Maryland’s Division of International Investment and Trade works to stimulate foreign direct investment in Maryland, offers export assistance for small and mid-sized Maryland companies and coordinates international missions and trade show opportunities for Maryland companies. DBED’s other foreign offices include China (Shanghai), France, Colombia, Korea, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Russia, Israel, Africa and Western Balkans (Montenegro). 

Source: The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development