An Idaho commerce official says recent changes in the world have opened new opportunities for Idaho businesses overseas.
Karl T. Mueller, Idaho Department of Commerce deputy director, said the U.S.-Canadian free trade agreement, European Community's economic integration in 1992 and political changes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union have the potential to help Idaho firms in the next few years."We already have Idaho companies working in Poland and Hungary," he said in a keynote speech for the third annual international week at the University of Idaho. "Nobody is waiting around."
But Mueller said some adjustments still will have to be made for Idaho businesses to capitalize on the opportunities overseas.
The training and technology needs of Idaho firms are going to change and must be met, he said. And the agriculture, mining and forest products industries have issues that still need to be resolved, he said.
Mueller said Idaho firms do about $1.2 million in international trade each year and international trade directly affects about 35,000 jobs in the state.
Yet some firms are still hesitant about entering the international market, although there are opportunities overseas, he said.
Dennis Wheeler, president of Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., predicted more of the mining industry will move overseas because he said government regulations are becoming less and less constructive for the industry.
He noted Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp. will spend $1 million in Chile this year.
Wheeler also said he is concerned that only 100 mining engineers will graduate in the United States this year when the demand is three times that number just in the West.