July 22, 2024
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Maryland has opened an international trade office in Istanbul, Turkey, that will join the state’s 18 existing foreign trade offices worldwide, the latest in a growing effort to help state businesses compete in a global marketplace.

Turkey can become a strong trading partner with Maryland because of the country’s growing health care sector, focus on cybersecurity and promising defense industry, the Maryland Department of Commerce announced in early June. The opening, designed to connect Maryland businesses with European and Asian partners, is part of the state’s broader effort to expand its reach into international markets.

“The onus is really on companies telling us every day, ‘I want to look in Turkey, there’s some good opportunities there,’” Brain Castleberry, a regional manager for the Commerce Department’s Office of International Investment and Trade said. “Certainly there’s some obstacles, but overall we think it’s a place where we can sell.”

The Department of Commerce aims to aid companies in accessing Turkey’s market by exporting to the country and partnering with Turkish companies, Castleberry said. The department hopes to create travel grants and trade show opportunities for Maryland businesses to venture into the Turkish market, he said.

The increase of digital health solutions and advanced hospitals in Turkey lines up well with Maryland’s growing life sciences and medical technology industries, according to the news release. There are twice as many federal labs in Maryland than in any other state, according to the Department of Commerce, and major medical agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration are located in Maryland as well.

And there may also be more opportunities for local Maryland businesses with specialties in tech and cybersecurity as Turkish companies integrate businesses digitally, officials said. Maryland has a notable tech industry, with organizations such as the National Security Agency and Defense Information Systems Agency based in the state.

Turkey’s defense industry is also a key area of trade with the United States. Several major aerospace and defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, are headquartered in Maryland. Turkey is currently working to acquire several aircraft from Lockheed Martin, officials noted.

“There’s a lot of small businesses too, but the major sweet spot industries are cyber, health care, defense,” Castleberry said. “Because the technology is so great, we’ll do well there.”

Maryland is among the many states that have international trade offices because they create global commercialization connections for the states, said Kelly Schulz, the chief executive officer of the Maryland Tech Council and a former commerce secretary under Gov. Larry Hogan.

International trade markets can also act as a conduit for other countries to open commercialized resources in the U.S., Schulz said. There are benefits to providing resources for both outgoing and incoming business, she added.

“Growth is very good, especially if it’s done in a meaningful and structured way,” she said. “Being able to take advantage of another country’s aptitudes and what they have been successful in, and tapping in Maryland businesses to that, is always a good, positive step forward.”

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