By Governor Pete Ricketts
September 18, 2017
Official photo here.
Throughout America’s history, trade has been a fundamental driver of our nation’s growth. Open access to international trade allows a wide variety of goods to freely move from our country to markets around the world. Trade has not only been an important part of growing America, but Nebraska as well. It’s been a proven economic good for our state. As my administration has worked to grow our state, my team has partnered with business leaders and ag producers to build on the international partnerships and expand access to overseas markets.
International partnerships have been helping grow Nebraska for years. These partnerships led to over $8 billion of goods and services being exported in 2015 alone, which is an increase of 238 percent from a decade earlier. Trade has been particularly good to our state’s ag producers: Nebraska is ranked as one of the top five states in terms of the value of our agriculture exports according to the USDA.
My administration has been leading trade missions to build on our state’s previous successes. These trade missions have led to numerous international partnerships which help grow Nebraska. Not only does trade open markets for our products, it also attracts direct foreign investment which creates more job opportunities in our state.
Direct foreign investment was a big focus on my most recent trade mission to Japan. Japan is Nebraska’s number one source of foreign direct investment. They’re an international partner who has repeatedly shown interest in working with Nebraska because of Nebraska’s loyal workforce and great environment for job creation. Through trade missions to Japan, Nebraska has built relationships that have resulted in investments in our energy, manufacturing, and agriculture industries. In fact, since 2010, Japanese companies have invested $4.4 billion in our state. About 35 Japanese-owned companies employ 9,400 Nebraskans.
One example of success which has come from our partnership with Japan is found in Kawasaki. In 1974, Kawasaki was the first Japanese company to invest in Nebraska and one of the first Japanese manufacturing plants in the country. Over the years, Kawasaki has manufactured everything from all-terrain vehicles to train cars in Lincoln. Following my 2015 trade mission to Japan, Kawasaki announced a new investment which has established their first U.S. aerospace division right here in Lincoln. This is just one of the many Japanese companies which have created good-paying job opportunities for thousands of Nebraska families.
Our relationship with Japan have also helped grow our agriculture industry. Japan recognizes the world-class quality of Nebraska beef and pork. In just the first five months of 2017, we saw a 26 percent increase in beef exports and a 46 percent increase in pork exports over 2016. During our mission to Japan last week, the Sagami Restaurant Chain signed an agreement with Smithfield to expand their purchases of Nebraska pork.
In addition to trade missions to Japan, I have also led trade missions to China twice, the European Union, and Canada over the last two and a half years. The trade mission to Canada was the first-ever mission led by a Nebraska Governor. These trade missions have all been influential in furthering my administration’s vision to grow Nebraska. For example, following the trade mission to the European Union, Novozymes, a Danish company, announced a $36 million expansion at their biofuels plant in Blair. Additionally, the Chinese beef market recently opened up to American beef and the first shipment to China came from Nebraska. Discussing the need to reopen this market was a top priority for me during trade missions I led to China in 2015 and 2016.
These are just a few of the many successes that have come from our trade missions. As we continue to work to grow Nebraska, international trade and foreign direct investment will be key to growing our state for many years to come. Our openness to trade is one of the many reasons Nebraska has built a reputation as the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. If you have any stories about international trade or Japan that you would like to share with my office, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244. I hope to hear from you soon!