For the second time in two years, Governor Pete Ricketts and key administrative officials are leading a delegation of ag and business leaders to expand trade and investment opportunities for Nebraskans in Japan. The Governor’s 2017 international trade mission to Japan began in Tokyo today and will include visits to Shizuoka and the Kansai region later this week. Department of Economic Development Director Courtney Dentlinger and Department of Agriculture Assistant Director Mat Habrock are helping lead the Governor’s Nebraska Delegation, which includes members of the state’s business and agricultural sectors.
This morning, the Governor and the delegation participated in the Midwest US-Japan Association (MWJA) and the Japan-Midwest US Association Conference. MWJA is comprised of nine Midwestern states, including Nebraska, and was formed to bolster international relationships with companies with a particular interest in growing in the central United States.
“The U.S. Midwest Japan Association Conference is an outstanding opportunity for Nebraska to thank our number one direct foreign investor and for our ag and business leaders to build relationships that grow bilateral trade,” said Governor Ricketts. “Nebraskans who understand Japan’s markets and resources are in a unique position to grow business relationships with our state’s number one trading partner outside of North America. The connections fostered here are invaluable, and we look forward to hosting the association’s 50th anniversary in Omaha next year.”
In 2016, Gov. Ricketts addressed delegates during the 48th annual conference in St. Louis and announced that Omaha will host the 2018 joint conference. Nebraska joined MWJA shortly after the organization’s inaugural event in 1967, when members of Chicago’s Association of Commerce and Industry hosted a delegation from the Japan Committee for Economic Development. Next year’s event in Omaha will mark the 50th anniversary of the conference.
During this trip to Tokyo, Gov. Ricketts is highlighting Nebraska’s long-standing relationship with a number of foreign companies. Omaha-based Tenaska employs nearly 300 Nebraskans and specializes in power plant, electric, and natural gas development. The company has built partnerships with several Japanese firms, including J-Power, Mitsubishi, and Itochu.
“For the past 30 years, Tenaska has successfully built its reputation in the U.S. and abroad,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger. “Development of the company’s strong, bilateral relationships resulted in plans for a $500 million natural gas generating company in Pennsylvania, made possible through investments from both countries. Nebraska’s international trade missions continue to showcase the great work of Nebraska companies around the world.”
Later this week, Gov. Ricketts will visit Japan’s independent government agency established to consolidate the country’s efforts in export promotion. The Japan Export Trade Research Organization (JETRO) supports efforts by foreign companies interested in entry and expansion in the Japanese market. In 2016, JETRO Chairman Hiroyuki Ishige met with Gov. Ricketts in Lincoln on the Nebraska Innovation Campus. This week’s meeting will focus on additional opportunities to strengthen Nebraska’s relationship with JETRO officials.
Director Dentlinger and Assistant Director Habrock will address Tokyo-area businesses at JETRO’s investment and trade promotional event to highlight Nebraska as an attractive, business-friendly location for continued foreign investment. Total agricultural and manufactured exports from Nebraska to Japan equaled an estimated $1.13 billion in 2015.
“The Nebraska agriculture industry has proven itself as a dependable and consistent supplier of agricultural products and services worldwide,” Assistant Director Habrock said. “We appreciate and welcome the opportunity to provide potential investors with information about the abundant resources available in Nebraska that have made our state one of the top producers of crops, livestock, agricultural equipment, and biotech products in the United States.”
On Thursday, Gov. Ricketts and the trade delegation will visit Shizuoka, a sister city of Omaha, Nebraska to promote additional investment opportunities in the state.
The trade delegation will spend the last two days of the trade mission in the Kansai region, where they will host a variety of events and meetings in Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. Kawasaki and several other Japanese companies with investments and operations in Nebraska are based in the Kansai region.