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Md. GOP wants full accounting of O’Malley trade mission

As Gov. Martin O’Malley’s prepares to travel back to Maryland after 10 days spent drumming up business for the state in Asia, Republican lawmakers are asking for total price tag on the trade mission.

“As we are sure you will both agree, in this austere fiscal climate, we must be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar,” GOP leaders wrote to Gov. Martin O’Malley and Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian Johansson.

The letter was signed by House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, R-Calvert and St.Mary’s, and the No. 2 Republican in the House, Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, of the Middle Shore.

The letter details 27 state employees on the trip, including O’Malley, Johansson, Secretary of State John P. McDonough, and three staffers from the Department of Business and Economic Development and the governor’s office. An O’Malley aide told The Washington Post the cost of the trip will likely be about $100,000, although that estimate doesn’t include the cost of sending educators from around the state, including University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace D. Loh and his counterpart at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Jay Perman.

Some government officials, including Del. Guy Guzzone, D-Howard, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Edward Chow, paid their own way, and participated only in part of the trip.

The business leaders included in the 68-member delegation paid their own way,

“With plummeting business rankings and high tax environment, we know convincing corporations to locate here is not an easy task,” the GOP leaders wrote. “We hope this trip proves to be a fruitful one for the citizens of Maryland.”

O’Malley’s trip took the delegation through China, South Korea and Vietnam. On Friday, the trip’s final day, O’Malley met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and discussed strengthening trade and investment ties the state and that country. The two also signed an agreement to consider a sister state relationship between Maryland and Ninh Thuan Province.

“Vietnam is one of the world’s fastest growing markets and we see great potential to strengthen the trade and investment partnerships we have already established through Maryland’s trade offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,” O’Malley said. “By signing the MOU to explore our first sister state relationship in Vietnam, we look forward to promoting all Maryland has to offer for Vietnamese firms looking to do business in the U.S., as well as increasing our more than $25 million in exports to the country.”

The Vietnam visit also led to business deals, according to the governor’s office:

  • Rockville’s AmeriSure Pharmaceuticals, one of only a handful of U.S companies licensed to distribute pharmaceuticals products in Vietnam, agreed to collaborate with VIMEDIMEX, a Vietnamese, state-owned pharmaceutical firms.
  • Marlin Steel Wire, of Baltimore, signed a collaboration agreement with Vietnam’s Inox Hoa Binh, a state-owned steel production and fabrication firm.
  • The Vietnam Natural Resources and Environmental Corp. committed to promote the floating island products of Blue Wing Environmental Solutions and Technologies, of Ellicott City.