Nebraska’s Relationship With Asia

This week, representatives from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development joined Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann on a trade mission to Taiwan and Japan.

As Governor, I have focused on international trade, direct investment and the creation of new export opportunities. This is the 12th foreign or reverse trade mission of my administration. Each trade mission has allowed us to explore agriculture and business development in key markets.

Our visits have been successful, including the one currently being led by the Lieutenant Governor. We announced the signing of an agreement with Taiwan for sales of Nebraska corn, soybeans and wheat valued at $401 million to $472 million over a two-year period. This is good news for Nebraska, and shows the value of developing and fostering relationships with those whom we want to purchase our products.

This is the third such agreement reached with Taiwan during my administration. Also during the visit, the Lt. Governor met with the Vice President of Taiwan, as well as officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Counsel of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This level of repeat business and access to governmental officials doesn’t just happen by chance. It’s the reward for cultivating lasting relationships.

We’ve had equally positive results from our ongoing relationship with Japan. In the past five years, nine Japanese companies have invested more than $3.7 billion in Nebraska. I want to highlight a few of them.

Marubeni is one of Japan’s largest general trading companies. They acquired Gavilon, formerly known as ConAgra Trade Group in Omaha. Marubeni agreed last year to buy the Omaha-based company that employs 400 in the city and 2,000 worldwide, for $3.6 billion. They will keep the company in Omaha and will build a $44 million downtown office complex.

Agrex, Inc. is a grain merchandising company based in Overland, Kansas, with ties to Japan. They purchased 125 acres running parallel to a short-line railroad owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, connecting Sioux City, Iowa, and O’Neill, and Laurel, Nebraska. The facility will store over one million bushels of upright grain storage and one million bushels of pit storage with looped track for rail loading.

Additionally, Agrex, Inc. is one of the top five major exporters of U.S. feed grains, and operates loading facilities in Superior and Enola, Nebraska. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation.

ITOCHU Corporation, headquartered in Minato-ku Tokyo, along with ITOCHU ENEX CO., LTD., have invested in a next generation biodiesel fuel project with Flint Hills Resources, LLC in Wichita, Kansas, and Benefuel Inc., in Irving, Texas. They are locating in Beatrice and retro-fitting an existing facility to produce 50-million-gallons-per-year.
NTT Group, a Japanese telecommunications firm has acquired technology security provider Solutionary, which will remain headquartered in Omaha. Solutionary, with 175 employees in Omaha, will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of NTT, the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.

Add to these investments, Kawasaki train cars in Lincoln, and Kewpie mayonnaise in Omaha with facilities in Norfolk, David City and Ravenna, and it’s clear that Nebraska and Japan’s relationship continues to grow.

These are just a few examples of why it is valuable for Nebraska to continue relationship-building activities with our Asian customers. That area of the world continues to grow and Nebraska is well-positioned to benefit from this growth.

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