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Growing Nebraska through International Trade

Growing Nebraska through International Trade

By Governor Pete Ricketts

February 8, 2022

 

Governor’s official photo here

 

Don’t let Nebraska’s location in the middle of America fool you.  Our state touches every corner of the globe with the crops we grow, livestock we raise, and products we manufacture.  Each year, Nebraska exports around $10 billion of goods and services worldwide.  Over 95% of consumers live outside of our borders.  To grow Nebraska, we must continue to proactively reach out to international partners and share all the Good Life has to offer.

 

This August 20-28, I am leading a trade mission to the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland.  It’s an opportune time to engage these trade partners.  The UK is reworking its trade policy after officially exiting the European Union in 2020.  While trade talks between the U.S. and UK have stalled under the Biden Administration, the United Kingdom has focused on building ties with individual U.S. states.  Within the last month, I met UK Ambassador Karen Pierce in Washington, DC and hosted UK Consul General Alan Gogbashian to discuss ways to strengthen our trade relationship.   Meanwhile, Ireland’s economy is booming, with GDP growth of over 15% in 2021.  With this success, Irish companies are looking to invest. 

 

While in the UK and Ireland, we’ll look to create opportunities for Nebraska agriculture, especially to sell beef, ethanol, and distillers grains.  These countries are a natural fit for enhanced partnerships with our state:

  • Nebraska is already the top supplier of U.S. beef to Europe, and we see potential to add even more customers. 
  • Last year, the UK upped its ethanol blending requirement for all gasoline from 5% to 10%—increasing the country’s need for biofuels. 
  • Pork producers in Ireland have begun to use distillers grain as a major feed source, which creates a prime market for this ethanol byproduct.

 

On the trade mission, we’ll tout the great success European bioscience firms like Corbion (Dutch), Evonik (German), and Novozymes (Danish) have had in Nebraska.  These companies have shown how to turn scientific breakthroughs into marketable products.  Our abundant natural resources, agricultural expertise, and centralized location within the U.S. give us a competitive edge when recruiting these biotech businesses.

 

We’ll also promote Nebraska’s national leadership in insurance, especially in the UK, which has the largest insurance industry in Europe.  States across America look to Nebraska for guidance when developing regulatory frameworks for insurance.  Insurers have been drawn to our state by our reputation for fair, consistent, and open regulation. 

 

This session, the Nebraska Department of Insurance (NDOI) is supporting LB 863.  This legislation will make it even more attractive for insurance companies to do business here.  As it stands, insurers in Nebraska doing business in Europe may be subject to double regulation—both from our state and the European Union or UK.  The bill NDOI supports would enable insurance companies to be covered by a single regulatory system, making it easier for them to serve customers.

 

Trade missions are also a great way to say thanks to the international companies that invest in Nebraska.  Companies in the UK and Ireland employ over 6,000 Nebraskans in more than 20 cities.  GSK, which has its central location in metro London, manufactures consumer healthcare products at a facility just east of our capital city of Lincoln.  Aon, an insurance company incorporated in Ireland and based in London, has Nebraska offices in Lincoln and Omaha.  Trane Technologies, parent company of Thermo King in Hastings, has its global headquarters in the suburbs of Dublin, Ireland. 

 

Nebraska-based companies have successfully grown by launching sites in Europe.  Hudl in Lincoln has expanded to the United Kingdom to meet the growing demand for its athletic performance analysis.  The company has offices in London and Leeds and has become the go-to resource of English football clubs.  HDR, headquartered in Omaha, has five locations across the UK and provides engineering consultation for building projects throughout the country.  The relationships we build on trade missions can help open more overseas markets for our state’s businesses. 

 

As Governor, I’ve led numerous trade missions to help grow Nebraska’s international commerce.  I’ve been to Japan three times, Mexico twice, Germany twice, China twice, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and Canada.  We’ve seen strong success from these missions.  Just before the pandemic, a Vietnamese trade delegation came to Lincoln as a follow up to our 2019 trade mission to Hanoi.  During the visit, they committed to buy $3 billion of beef, corn, distillers grains, soybeans, and wheat from Nebraska.  This past marketing season, Vietnam increased its purchases of U.S. soy by 91%.  Our 2019 trade mission to Germany helped Lindsay Corporation land a deal to deploy its Road Zipper systems on German motorways. 

 

We’ve also seen continued investment from international companies over the past year.  In July, Kawasaki (Japan) announced a $200 million expansion to bring 550 more jobs to Lincoln to increase capacity to make ATVs, Jet Skis, and other vehicles.  In August, Novozymes (Denmark) announced a $300 million investment in Blair to increase its production in Nebraska.  In September, Monolith Materials unveiled plans to construct a major plant to manufacture carbon-free ammonia south of Lincoln with major investments from Mitsubishi (Japan) and SK (South Korea).  

 

I invite Nebraska leaders to join me for the upcoming trade mission.  Our farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs are Nebraska’s most effective trade ambassadors.  They tell the story of our state better than anyone else.  To apply for the trade mission, contact Cobus Block at cobus.block@nebraska.gov.  There’s limited space available, so reach out now.  If you have questions about our work to grow Nebraska through trade, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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