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Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam has accepted Gov. Pete Ricketts' invitation to come to Nebraska, the governor said Friday, and that could help open the door to increased agricultural trade in a growing Asian market.

Ricketts said he would like to take Phuc to a Nebraska farm or ranch to "see how safe our food supply is (and) that would give them comfort."

Vietnam is "a country that is growing," Ricketts said during a conference call from Hanoi, where he is leading a trade mission, and this is "a great opportunity for us to take advantage of that marketplace."

Ricketts' trip to Vietnam and Japan is designed to promote Nebraska's agricultural products and present the state as a top place for international investment.

"Vietnam represents an opportunity to diversify our markets," he said.

"We're raising awareness and developing relationships," the governor said, and those elements are vital in establishing a trade partnership.

Asked about a new Nebraska Farm Bureau study estimating that U.S. trade policy will cost Nebraska agriculture a billion dollars for the second year in a row, Ricketts said that demonstrates "the importance of getting trade deals done."

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The House needs to approve the newly negotiated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, he said.

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And it is "important for us to get it right" in adjusting trade relationships with China, he said. "China has not been playing fair (and) the ball kind of is in the court for China to respond."

In the meantime, Ricketts said, he wants to "move quickly to develop relationships with Japan and Vietnam."

Vietnam is a country whose gross national product is growing at a rate of more than 6% a year, he said. Forty percent of the population was born after 1975, he said.

"We have talked about trade barriers," the governor said. "We want to make sure we have the same market opportunities other countries have."

Ricketts said no dates for a visit to Nebraska by the prime minister have been discussed, but "he said he will come."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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