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Strengthening Nebraska’s Presence Abroad

Strengthening Nebraska’s Presence Abroad

By Governor Pete Ricketts

September 12, 2022

 

Governor’s official photo here.

 

As governor, I’ve prioritized strengthening Nebraska’s presence abroad.  Ninety-five percent of the world’s population lives outside of America’s borders.  We must reach these international customers to grow Nebraska and create opportunities for our kids and grandkids.

 

Last month, I led a successful trade mission to the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland.  It’s an opportune time to engage both countries.  As the UK navigates their exit from the European Union (commonly known as Brexit), they are looking to strengthen relationships in the US.  At the same time, Ireland’s economy is booming.  In 2021, its Gross Domestic Product grew 13.5%.  Ireland is home to a number of inventive ag tech companies looking to grow their presence internationally.

 

Nebraska has a lot to offer both countries as they look to grow trade with the United States.  In particular, we highlighted our reputation as a great home for insurers and our global leadership in agriculture—especially in beef and ethanol production.  We also met with top government ministers to explore ways to reduce barriers to trade.  Our trade delegation included insurance experts, farmers, ranchers, and ethanol producers.  They shared Nebraska’s story with British and Irish leaders and were great ambassadors for our state.

 

The potential to grow Nebraska’s insurance industry was a primary reason why we chose the UK as a trade mission destination.  The UK has Europe’s largest insurance industry.  Following Brexit, insurers there are looking to develop relationships in the US.  Our state punches far above its weight in insurance—ranking 1st nationally in surplus and 3rd in total assets.  Nebraska’s reputation for fair, consistent, and transparent insurance regulation is highly attractive to companies looking to invest. 

 

While in London, we met with the Association of British Insurers.  It represents 200+ member companies that collectively manage investments of nearly £1.7 trillion.  We made the case for Nebraska as an ideal place for these companies to get started as they seek to roll out products and services nationwide in the United States.  Eric Dunning, Director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, made great connections with insurers and regulators in the UK during our mission.  These relationships are very promising as we seek to recruit investment in insurance.

 

Growing opportunities for Nebraska agriculture was another top goal of our trade mission.  It was especially timely for us to be in the UK to promote Nebraska ethanol.  Last year, the UK upped its ethanol blending requirement for all gasoline from 5% to 10%, generating demand for biofuels.  Right now, there’s also a lot of concern in the UK about rising fuel prices and their impact on families struggling to deal with inflation. 

 

As America’s #2 ethanol-producing state, we’re well positioned to meet the UK’s need for clean, affordable fuel.  Our trade delegation met with the UK’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to tout the benefits of ethanol.  We highlighted its cost-effectiveness and the steps we’re taking to help ethanol plants capture and store carbon to reduce their environmental footprint. 

 

On the trade mission, we also highlighted Nebraska’s premium beef products.  Our state is the top provider of U.S. beef to the European Union.  Through the first seven months of 2022, Nebraska beef exports to Europe are double what they were last year at this point.  While in the UK and Ireland, we sought to build on this momentum.

 

Consumers in the UK want to know where their food comes from, and they are very conscious of the environment.  Our cattlemen were able to tell the story of their multi-generational family ranches, and the great work they’re doing to care for their land and animals.  For instance, our ag delegation shared the success of the U.S. cattle industry producing 66% more beef while reducing its carbon footprint by 40% since the 1960s.  They also highlighted that U.S. beef production has some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions in the world—10-50 times lower than in many other parts of the globe.

 

In Ireland, we had great meetings to discuss technological advances in agriculture.  Ireland specializes in food production and has a thriving ag tech sector.  We met with ag startups to discuss all that Nebraska has to offer as a hotbed of agricultural innovation; business-friendly state; and great place to live, work, and raise a family.

 

We also had high-level discussions with government leaders about reducing barriers to trade.  In the UK, we met with Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Trade Policy.  The UK is looking to connect directly with individual states with bilateral trade talks stalled at the national level.  In Ireland, we met with Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Ireland’s prime minister and head of government to talk about economic development.  

 

This month, I’m continuing my work to grow international trade.  Last weekend, I attended the Midwest-US Japan Association conference to meet with key leaders from Japan—our state’s 2nd largest export market.  I’ll also be attending Husker Harvest Days (HHD) this week.  Since 2019, HHD has had an International Visitors Center to give guests an up-close look at the farm equipment, machinery, and technologies that are made here and used all over the world.  Additionally, I’ll spend time this week with leaders from VDMA—the biggest association for manufacturing in Germany.  During those meetings, I’ll be able to highlight the great success German companies like CLAAS and Graepel have had growing their businesses in Nebraska.

 

At the State of Nebraska, we’re dedicated to finding new markets for Nebraska’s exports and recruiting international investment to our state.  If you would like to learn more about our trade strategy and initiatives, please email me at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244.