Inslee to lead trade mission to Korea, Japan

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OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee will kick-off a 9-day trade mission to Korea and Japan on August 28, accompanied by Derek Sandison, Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and Brian Bonlender, Commerce Director.

Joined by about 60 leaders from the business, economic development, education and local government communities, the Washington delegation will focus on promoting exports and investment in our state’s agriculture, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and technology industry sectors.

“Washington state’s trade and cultural ties with Japan and Korea run deep, and I look forward to strengthening these important relationships,” Inslee said. “As their economies thrive, consumers and businesses in Korea and Japan open up new demand and markets for the quality products from Washington. That expansion creates economic activity and jobs throughout our state.”

In 2014, Japan was Washington state’s 3rd largest export market, with $7.4 billion in goods exports; South Korea ranked 6th at $2.8 billion. A significant share of that is agriculture. Washington exported $1.6 billion in agricultural products to Japan last year and $469 million worth to South Korea with those numbers expected to grow.

“Washington’s agriculture industry owes some of its success to overseas markets, with 30 percent of everything grown and produced in our state bound for export. While Japan is our largest trading partner for agricultural products, consumer demand is quickly growing in South Korea for our products,” Sandison said. “I’m looking forward to working with Gov. Inslee and the agriculture industry representatives to promote our products in both countries, and show our appreciation for the customers we enjoy in these important markets.”

“More than 90 percent of the potatoes grown in Washington are destined for markets outside of the state, with majority exported internationally,” said Matt Harris, Assistant Executive Director for the Washington State Potato Commission. “Korea and Japan are two of the most important markets for frozen potatoes grown and processed right here in Washington. We appreciate the opportunity the trade mission will provide to build upon the relationship with customers in each country and further promote Washington potatoes.”

Inslee will leave the state on Friday, Aug. 28, arriving in Seoul, Korea where Inslee will have several meetings with high level government officials and key business leaders. Inslee will address a technology conference and meet with the membership of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea. He will also travel to Jeollabuk-do Province, Washington’s sister state in Korea, to meet with Governor Song.

Other delegation activities will take place at the Gyeongnam Technopark in Sacheon, Changwon, and meetings with Korean aerospace industry suppliers and executives in Busan.

The governor will then travel to Kobe, Japan where he will visit the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution to learn how Washington can better be prepared for a major earthquake and respond to its aftermath. While in Kobe, Inslee will also meet with Hyogo Prefecture Governor Toshizo Ido and connect with a 25-member friendship delegation from Washington that is celebrating our state’s 52 year old sister state relationship with Hyogo. The “Friendship Delegation” is being led by state Senators Karen Fraser, Steve Hobbs and John McCoy. A delegation from Hyogo came to Seattle and Olympia two years ago to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the sister state relationship.

Aerospace remains center stage when the delegation travels to Nagoya, Japan on Sept. 2, highlighted by a visit to the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) assembly line.

Bonlender, who has made foreign direct investment a priority at the Commerce department, said the MRJ is an example of how trade mission discussions can result in job-creating investments. The Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, in partnership with Seattle-based AeroTEC, will bring its new aircraft to Moses Lake for flight test and certification. AeroTEC is investing $8 million in a new hangar at Grant County International Airport. Between the team on the ground and in the air there, and a new Engineering Center in Seattle, the project will create 350 new engineering, aircraft mechanic and other administrative jobs and bring millions of dollars in economic activity to the state.

“In addition to expanding exports and trade, our international business development strategy is increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) into Washington state,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “Japan and Korea have many similarities with us in key industry sectors such as aerospace, clean tech, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. This trip we will continue building on our FDI Framework for Success, working to bring new investment and jobs to the state.”

Inslee’s final stop is in Tokyo where he will conduct a series of business and government meetings before closing out Sept. 5 with a Washington food and wine products fair at the Costco store in Makuhari, Tokyo. Costco has 20 stores in Japan and three additional new stores will open later this month.

Follow #WAtrade2015 on Twitter for updates.

Media Contacts

Jaime Smith
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office

Penny Thomas
Department of Commerce

Hector Castro
Department of Agriculture