Thursday, Governor Pete Ricketts announced plans to lead a second international trade mission to Japan, nearly two years after his inaugural visit to Nebraska’s number one direct foreign investor and third largest trading partner.
Governor Ricketts shared details on the trade mission at Lincoln’s Kawasaki plant while celebrating the opening of the company’s new aerospace division. The Governor met with Kawasaki leaders in Japan during his 2015 trade mission to thank the company for their substantial investments in Nebraska, which have spanned more than 40 years.
“Japanese business facilities employed 4,410 people in Nebraska in 2016,” said Governor Ricketts. “Meeting personally with business leaders during trade missions gives us a chance to promote our state as a destination for foreign direct investment and create opportunities to grow quality jobs.”
The Governor’s international trade mission is scheduled for September 10-16, 2017. Throughout the trip, Governor Ricketts and the Nebraska delegation will have an opportunity to strengthen relationships with current and potential investors, as well as host events to promote Nebraska products.
Gov. Ricketts will lead the mission in conjunction with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and Department of Agriculture (NDA). DED Director Courtney Dentlinger and NDA Director Greg Ibach will join the Governor during the Japan trade mission, along with members of the Nebraska delegation.
The Governor encourages Nebraska agriculture and business representatives to consider joining the trade mission for an opportunity to meet with government officials, community leaders, and industry representatives.
“Japan continues to be one of Nebraska’s most important trading partners. In 2015, total agricultural and manufactured exports from Nebraska to Japan equaled an estimated $1.13 billion. The trade mission is an unparalleled opportunity for our own business leaders to connect with companies who have an interest in buying our products and services,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger. “Traveling to Japan with a diverse team of company, community, and academic representatives also gives us an opportunity to represent the state in the best possible light to potential investors.”
NDA Director Greg Ibach stressed the importance of increasing Nebraska’s ag exports and commodities in Japan. Over the past several years, this highly-urbanized country, with a population of nearly 127 million, has experienced a growing demand for quality agricultural products.
“Nebraska agricultural products have a strong demand in the Japanese marketplace and through trade missions like this one, we continue to build new and strengthen established relationships,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “Since Nebraska’s last trade mission to Japan in 2015, Nebraska’s beef exports have grown 31 percent and pork exports 32 percent into the country. In 2016, Nebraska exported $316 million worth of beef and $191 million worth of pork products to Japan – making Japan the largest Nebraska export market for both beef and pork.”
Ibach noted that Japan is also the second largest export market for U.S. corn and wheat and the third largest export market for U.S. soybeans.
DED, NDA, and the Nebraska Center Japan in Yokohama developed the Nebraska Delegation’s itinerary for the upcoming trade mission, which includes visits to Tokyo, Shizuoka, and the Kansai region.
The delegation’s first stop in Tokyo includes a visit to the annual conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association and the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association. The Midwest U.S.-Japan Association is comprised of eight Midwestern states, including Nebraska, and is designed to bolster international relationships with companies with a particular interest in growing in the central U.S.
In 2016, Gov. Ricketts addressed delegates during the 48th annual conference in St. Louis. During the event, the Governor highlighted Nebraska’s long-standing relationship with Japan and announced that Omaha will host the 2018 joint conference for the association’s 50th anniversary.
In addition to the conference, trade mission delegates will participate in promotional events and business meetings that will occur in Tokyo over four days.
Governor Ricketts and the trade delegation will also visit Shizuoka, which is a sister city of Omaha, Nebraska where they will promote investment opportunities in Nebraska.
The trade delegation will spend the last two days of the trade mission in the Kansai region, where they will hold a variety of events and meetings in Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. Kawasaki and several other Japanese companies with investments in Nebraska are based in the Kansai region.