By Dave Heineman, Governor of Nebraska
Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
To seize the opportunities of global commerce, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and several Nebraska companies have developed a new public-private partnership to open Nebraska’s first international trade office.
As one of Nebraska’s leading export markets, and the largest overseas market, Japan holds tremendous promise for our state, and the office will be located in the heart of Tokyo’s business district.
We want to enhance Nebraska’s opportunities for international trade, and Japan continues to present excellent opportunities for a number of industries in our state.
Prior to its ban on U.S. beef in 2003, Japan was our top export market for Nebraska beef. Yet even without the opportunity to sell beef products there during the past two years, Japan remained the largest overseas market for Nebraska exporters, particularly those in the manufacturing industry. Nebraska merchandise export shipments in 2004 totaled $2.3 billion dollars. With $193 million of that going to Japan, it represents a very significant market for our state.
In addition to pursuing opportunities to promote Nebraska products, we are also interested in efforts to increase foreign investment in our state. Today there are more than 30 Japanese-owned businesses in Nebraska. We want to continue to recruit new businesses here to our state, in addition to helping Nebraska agricultural producers and trade groups regain ground now that the doors for importing U.S. beef have been reopened in Japan.
The Nebraska Center will be a key asset for our state. Japanese companies place a high priority on personal relationships with those they do they business, so having a physical presence in the country is an important step in our efforts to expand opportunities for trade. This new international trade office will enable us to work more closely with Japanese companies on business investment and development efforts.
The center will be responsible for the promotion of Nebraska products and services in Japan and across the region. It will also serve as a resource to assist in research, contact and arrange meetings with Japanese business and trade officials, aid in travel and translation needs, and develop marketing efforts for Japanese consumers.
We will hold an open house to celebrate the grand opening of The Nebraska Center just a few weeks. Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy will lead a delegation traveling to Tokyo for the event, and I am pleased that the executive director chosen to head the center will be joining him.
Mr. Koji Nagasaka has spent most of his career at the Itochu Corporation, which is one of Japan’s largest trading houses. He is highly respected in Japan, and that was clear during the U.S. Midwest-Japan trade conference hosted earlier this fall, which was attended by representatives of Japanese companies, U.S. business and economic development leaders and trade officials.
The Tokyo office will serve as a hub for Nebraska’s international business operations in Japan, including the recruitment and expansion of Japanese-owned companies, agricultural market expansion and development of partnerships for economic growth.
Nebraska has had a strong relationship with Japan. With the opening of this office, we hope to pursue an even stronger partnership in the years ahead by helping Nebraskans to work more closely with Japanese companies.
With the increasing interest in the global economy, developing and expanding our trade relationships abroad is vital for a stronger Nebraska, and it is opportunities such as this that will help us in accomplishing that goal.