AUGUSTA (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci plans to lead a trade mission to Japan and South Korea later this year. Baldacci’s November plans were announced at the annual Governor’s International Community Breakfast on Thursday in Portland.

Trade missions in recent years have focused on Europe. But the director of the Maine International Trade Center, Janine Bisaillon-Cary, said Maine businesses are showing increasing interest in Asia.

In 2005, Japan was a leading export destination for Maine products, ranking fifth. The Japanese bought turbojet parts, sea urchins, paper and wood pulp, and blueberries. South Korea, Maine’s sixth-largest market, imported semiconductors, wood pulp and lobsters.

Speaking to about 125 people at a trade center breakfast, Baldacci said businesses and state agencies can’t afford to be passive when it comes to worldwide opportunities. “We have to go out and hustle it,” he said. “We can’t take it for granted that it will come. We have to compete in the global economy.”

An analysis by the trade center indicates there’s strong demand for medical products and maritime instruments in Korea. The center also sees the potential for recruiting Korean college students to Maine schools. Korea is ranked third in the number of students who study in the United States.

Exports to China have been growing rapidly. Only Canada, Malaysia and Singapore now import more goods from Maine.

Citing a preliminary estimate, Bisaillon-Cary said Maine exported $2.3 billion in goods and services in 2006, a 14 percent increase from the previous year. Maine exports have grown 33 percent between 2002 and 2006.

Maine has had major trade missions to France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the United Kingdom in recent years. In 1995, Gov. Angus King led a major trade mission to Japan.