Nebraska hosts the 50th annual Midwest US-Japan Association annual conference; in 2018.
Gov. Dave Heineman says the conference should spur Nebraska exports to Japan and Japanese investment in Nebraska.
“I’m especially gratified that we’re going to host the 50th,” Heineman tells reporters during an announcement. “Anniversaries like that tend to be a little more important. You may find more Japanese business leaders and American leaders who want to come, because it will be historic that we’ve been doing this for 50 years.”
Japan ranks as the second largest market for Nebraska agricultural products. Nebraska exported more than $454 million in farm goods to Japan last year, according to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development; $411 million in beef and pork exports.
The Nebraska Center Japan opened in Tokyo in 2006 to strengthen the economic ties between Japan and Nebraska.
Oxbow Animal Health in rural Murdock began exporting its pet food and pet care products to Japan years ago, but Marketing Director Melissa Ross says once the state center was established, it greatly increased sales to Japan.
“Make sure that we’re doing business in a culturally sensitive manner and respecting their culture and it’s just been a tremendous asset to have those resources on the ground in Japan for us,” according to Ross.
Agricultural goods aren’t the only exports to Japan. Overall, Nebraska exported $566 million in goods to Japan last year, representing nearly eight percent of the total state merchandise exports.
Acting Economic Development Director Dacia Kruse says the state helped Vahallan Papers of Lincoln establish a foothold in Japan to sell its premium wallpaper and wall coverings.
Kruse says Vahallan also participated in the STEP program and used its grant to attend two major trade shows in the United States.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]