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AUSTIN-The upcoming trade mission by Texas officials to western Canada is a first. Although Canada is Texas’ second biggest foreign trade partner, behind Mexico, this week’s trip is the first to the north, according to the Texas Department of Economic Development.

State officials and business people from several Texas cities including Austin and San Antonio are headed to Winnipeg, Manitoba and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Thursday through Tuesday. The group is targeting agri-food products, biotechnology, building products, energy and wireless technology and nano-technology, according to a contact with the Texas Department of Economic Development.

The trips provide an opportunity for companies and communities to establish ties with counterparts, a contact at the Department of Economic Development tells GlobeSt.com. Communities are interested in attracting foreign companies to set up operations in their towns.

Foreign trade helps commercial real estate in two ways. First, local companies with more business hire more people and fill up more office and industrial space. Second, foreign companies set up shop in local communities, hiring workers and filling up space.

In 2001, Texas shipped $10.5 billion of goods to Canada. Texas has sent more than $4.5 billion in computers and electronic products since the beginning of 2001. Texas exports to Mexico were $41.6 billion in 2001 and total Texas exports were just under $95 million in 2001.

The trip is one of several the Texas Department of Economic Development has organized in the past year. The last trip was to Mexico.

A trip to China resulted in 10 contracts signed between Texas and Chinese companies, a state executive tells GlobeSt.com. He said the department can’t quantify the value of the contracts because they are between private companies. That same trip also brought 1,000 trade leads for companies.

Texas Secretary of State Gwyn Shea heads the delegation to Canada. She’ll be joined by Ashley Smith, chairman of the Texas Council on Science and Biotechnology; Rosa Garcia, Laredo-based Deven International; Blake Hastings, executive director of the Free Trade Alliance in San Antonio; Gilles Marotte, partner in Lone Star Export-Import in Austin; Dora Oliveri, comptroller of GLI Distributor in San Antonio; Manual Longoria, assistant economic development director of the City of San Antonio; and Margie Moore, trade adviser for the Americas for Texas Economic Development.

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