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Utah will open trade offices in Brussels, Belgium, and southern California this year in an attempt to increase business for Utah companies and attract companies into the state, according to Stanley B. Parrish, Utah Department of Community and Economic Development executive director.

Brussels was selected because it is centrally located in Europe, Belgium is political neutral and it is close to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for contractors wanting to do business with that organization.Parrish told the World Trade Association of Utah the office in southern California will be open with a main mission of attempting to convince businesses in that area to relocate to Utah.

With the population of California expected to increase by 9 million in the next few years, the transportation system, which already is overburdened, will become more bogged down, and that might result in businesses wanting to move to Utah where that problem is minimal, Parrish said.

Recent events in eastern Europe where several countries are leaning toward capitalistic systems mean great opportunities for Utah companies to do businesses there, he said. In some instances, making deals in foreign countries takes time, and he encouraged Utah business owners to start selling their products abroad.

To get some Utahns acquainted with doing business in foreign countries, Parrish said, a trade mission will be sent to Japan and Korea June 9-17, to Japan and Korea for businesswomen in September and Austria and to other European countries in September in conjunction with opening the office in Brussels.

One of the concerns in Parrish's department is what effect the winding down in military spending caused by an easing of the Cold War will have on Utah's economy.

Parrish said a reduction in military spending in Utah won't result in a collapse of the Utah economy because spending on space programs will continue. He said his staff also is working on programs to retrain anyone who might lose their jobs because of a decrease in defense spending, and they also will continue to help businesses with new global trade opportunities.