Doing Business Internationally

The Milwaukee Region is ideally situated for global trade because of its easy access to international air and water routes. The region is within a 90-minute drive of two international airports – Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, both of which offer extensive freight services. The Port of Milwaukee offers shipping access to the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway and inland waterway systems that extend to the Gulf of Mexico.

The state of Wisconsin's top export product categories are industrial machinery ($6.8 billion), electrical machinery ($2.4 billion), and scientific and medical instruments ($2 billion). Top destinations for Wisconsin products abroad include Canada ($6.5 billion), Mexico ($1.7 billion) and China ($1.2 billion), an increase of more than $1 billion since 1996.

Global trade resources available to regional businesses include:

  • The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. International Business team helps both novice and experienced exporters assess the international demand for products, develop international marketing programs and introduce businesses to potential customers, distributors and partners. Outreach offices throughout the state and in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China help businesses learn about markets, assess competition and develop contacts.

  • The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s China Business Council provides discussion groups, trade missions, educational opportunities and specialized resources for companies seeking to establish or expand business opportunities in China.

  • The Milwaukee World Trade Association offers a network of 300 corporate and 1,200 individual members and holds monthly meetings on cultural training, logistics, legal and taxation issues and international finance challenges, as well as information on distributors, agents and joint ventures.

  • World Trade Center Wisconsin is part of the New York-based World Trade Centers Association, which has 300 offices around the world. It offers members access to web resources, market research, strategic seminars, policy advocacy, global matchmaking and trade missions.

WISCONSIN EXPORTS - TOP 10 EXPORTS
EXPORT 2006 2007 2008
Industrial Machinery  $5,521,717,471  $6,177,472,157  $6,864,229,444
Electrical Machinery 
 $2,597,784,383  $2,337,359,699  $2,425,964,588
Scientific & Medical Instruments
 $2,062,972,057  $2,064,046,371  $2,098,800,316
Vehicles (Not Railway)
 $1,464,633,382  $1,742,379,964  $1,990,879,277
Paper Products
 $802,010,909  $835,223,495  $793,483,708
Plastic Products
 $571,137,687  $614,962,806  $670,406,279
Iron/Steel Products  $241,405,052  $293,983,646  $372,791,759
Printed Matter  $254,122,530  $261,304,523  $270,734,309
Furniture & Bedding $216,667,733
 $219,608,872  $267,534,290
Cereals
 $254,705,922  $502,547,845  $230,370,255
Other Products
 $3,186,471,336  $3,776,599,799  $4,567,578,316

WISCONSIN EXPORTS - TOP 10 DESTINATIONS
COUNTRY 2006 2007 2008
Canada   $5,459,259,309 $5,896,124,667
$6,497,734,843
Mexico  $1,850,790,850  $1,481,389,191  $1,761,699,777
China  $870,111,254  $1,178,914,538  $1,231,217,872
Germany  $582,051,301  $659,769,216  $790,364,653
Japan   $738,751,539  $655,118,137  $724,430,311
United Kingdom   $686,409,866  $722,752,694  $683,135,175
Australia   $466,637,349  $563,671,910  $583,454,343
Saudi Arabia   $503,228,960  $475,637,253  $556,285,248
France    $467,820,468  $441,907,152  $517,860,363
Brazil   $248,436,933  $326,535,429  $420,055,200
Rest of the World   $5,300,130,633  $6,423,668,990  $6,786,534,756