By Governor Pete Ricketts
September 22, 2016
The Governor’s official photo is available here.
Trade has helped grow Nebraska for decades. Whether you are a rancher who exports beef to Japan or a center pivot manufacturer who has expanded your operations to China, trade has been critical to growing our Nebraska farms, ranches, and businesses. Just look at the numbers: In 2014, Nebraska exported a total of $10.66 billion worth of goods, of which $6.59 billion worth was ag-based. Whatever pessimism we hear about trade from politicians these days, it is critical that we remember how key our trade relationships are to growing opportunities for the next generation of Nebraskans.
To see how trade has benefitted our state, there’s no better example than our relationship with Japan. Since Kawasaki first put down roots in Lincoln in 1974, Nebraska’s trade relationship with Japan has been helping create jobs and growing our economy. Our long-standing relationship with Japan has made the country the state’s number one direct foreign investor and third largest trading partner.
This relationship has flourished because of a long-term commitment by numerous Nebraska diplomats including previous governors and business leaders. My administration has continued this tradition. In 2015, I led my first trade mission to Asia during which I met with executives from Japanese companies to thank them for their investment in Nebraska and to talk about how we could support future expansions.
The trade mission has borne fruit. Over the past year, Kawasaki announced it would establish its first North American aerostructures line in Lincoln with a multi-million dollar investment. Morio Denki, one of Kawasaki’s suppliers that produces electrical components for rail cars, also announced their expansion in Nebraska. In addition to these expansions, we have also seen recent investments from other Japanese companies including Marubeni, Kewpie, Itochu, and NTT.
Continuing to cultivate relationships with Japanese companies can help encourage additional investment and build Nebraska’s reputation as a great place to do business. Last week, I traveled to St. Louis to attend the 48th Annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Conference. At the event, I addressed the conference and met with Japanese business executives as well as the country’s ambassador to the United States. During my address, I announced that Nebraska would host the association in Omaha for its 50th annual conference in 2018. The event will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Nebraska to showcase our state as a great place to do business for Japanese business executives and leaders looking for opportunities to invest and grow their businesses.
While relationship building through trade missions is key to expanding trade opportunities for Nebraska, we must also work to break down trade barriers that are limiting growth in markets for our products. Right now, Congress is considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that would help expand markets for Nebraska’s commodities along the Pacific Rim with countries like Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia among others. The deal would reduce trade barriers, such as tariffs on our commodities like beef, making our products much more attractive to millions of consumers. For example, it would take Japan’s 38 percent tariff on our beef down to nine percent, and in Vietnam it would go from 20 percent to zero!
Trade deals like TPP are good for growing Nebraska and our relationship with key trade partners like Japan. As Congress continues to consider TPP, I encourage you to contact your congressman and senators. You can find all their information by visiting house.gov or senate.gov. If you have feedback for my office, I hope you will contact me by emailing email@example.com or by calling 402-471-2244.