Wis. businesses look internationally, even in recession - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wis. businesses look internationally, even in recession

By Tony Galli - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Doyle is spending ten days in Italy and Tunisia on a trade mission to promote Wisconsin products, as the international market remains strong for state companies.

Wisconsin Commerce Department statistics show the value of Wisconsin exports increased from $18 billion in 2007 to $20 billion in 2008.

Gubernatorial spokesperson Adam Collins said export value has grown every year of Doyle's seven year tenure.

Wisconsin's top export destinations are Canada, Mexico and China.

Industrial machinery is the most-sought after product from Wisconsin companies, with plastic, and aircraft among the top ten exported products.

Italy is among Wisconsin's top 25 export destinations, although purchases of Wisconsin products in Tunisia are relatively small.   Exports to Tunisia also declined dramatically in 2008.  

Collins said weather-inspired wheat stockpiling resulted in a dramatically higher export value for Tunisia in 2007.

Governor Doyle served in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, and state officials said Doyle had a standing invitation to visit the nation and its highest ranking officials, with lodging costs covered.

"Tunisia, for me I think is more of a political thing because of Doyle's history,"   UW-Madison political science professor Jon Pevehouse said.

But Pevehouse said political diplomacy plays a significant role in cementing business relationships.   Collins said Tunisia represents an opportunity for Wisconsin's water technology industry and other economic sectors.

Doyle's trip is his eighth trade mission, with three other international business trips.   Doyle's trip to Spain paved the way for trainmaker Talgo to bring promised production and jobs to Wisconsin, although republican candidates for governor have criticized the deal as flawed.

Pevehouse said business people and government officials in other countries often want the credibility of a governor's presence to back up legislative action on proposed trade.

"It's another thing altogether for a governor to go there and give a personal guarantee, 'We've promised you these things, I'm going to tell you, face to face, that things are going to come through.' "


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