Nebraska agriculture and business leaders began a trade mission Monday in Tokyo, led by Gov. Pete Ricketts and other Nebraska agency officials.
It's the second such mission in two years to expand trade and investment opportunities for Nebraskans in Japan, Ricketts said in a news release.
The group, including Economic Development Director Courtney Dentlinger and Assistant Director of Agriculture Mat Habrock, participated Monday in the U.S. Midwest-Japan Association Conference, along with representatives of other Midwestern states.
“The U.S. Midwest-Japan Association Conference is an outstanding opportunity for Nebraska to thank our No. 1 direct foreign investor, and for our ag and business leaders to build relationships that grow bilateral trade,” Ricketts said.
Nebraskans who understand Japan’s markets and resources are in a unique position to increase business relationships with the state’s No. 1 trading partner outside of North America, he said.
“The connections fostered here are invaluable, and we look forward to hosting the association’s 50th anniversary in Omaha next year,” he said.
Ricketts is highlighting Nebraska’s long-standing relationship with a number of foreign companies. Omaha-based Tenaska employs nearly 300 Nebraskans and specializes in power plant, electric, and natural gas development. The company has built partnerships with several Japanese firms, including J-Power, Mitsubishi and Itochu.
Development of Tenaska’s relationships resulted in plans for a $500 million natural gas-generating company in Pennsylvania, made possible through investments from both countries, Dentlinger said.
Later in the week, Ricketts will visit Japan’s independent government agency established to consolidate the country’s efforts in export promotion. The Japan Export Trade Research Organization supports efforts by foreign companies interested in entry and expansion in the Japanese market.
Dentlinger and Habrock will address Tokyo-area businesses to highlight Nebraska as an attractive, business-friendly location for continued foreign investment. Total agricultural and manufactured exports from Nebraska to Japan equaled an estimated $1.13 billion in 2015.
Thursday, Ricketts and the trade delegation will visit Shizuoka, a sister city of Omaha, to promote additional investment opportunities.
They will spend the last two days of their trip in the Kansai region, hosting events and meetings in Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. Kawasaki and several other Japanese companies with investments and operations in Nebraska are based in the Kansai region.
You can follow the mission on Twitter and Facebook using #NETradeMission.