Gov. Pete Ricketts says a week-long trade mission to Asia was successful.
A delegation of about 70 business and government leaders were in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Ricketts says he wants a U.S. trade agreement with the region, such as TPP, to boost business in Nebraska.
“When we’re looking at reducing tariffs on our products going over to other countries, that’s a big deal,” Ricketts tells reporters on a conference call. “I think it’s important that we promote and continue to sign these trade agreements to be able to expand opportunities for our producers and companies in Nebraska to be able to grow their markets and create more jobs.”
Ricketts says if Congress ratifies the TPP trade agreement, the tariffs on beef to Japan would drop from 38.5 percent to 9 percent.
He hopes President-elect Donald Trump will quickly get to work on trade agreements.
“(Donald Trump) wants to accomplish making sure that we’ve got the best opportunities available to be able to sell our products in other countries and that we have a level playing field,” Ricketts says. “He’s going to negotiate to make sure we’ve got that best opportunity.”
Ricketts says if the U.S. does not act soon, China will strike a trade deal with neighboring countries first.
While trade was the main focus of the trip abroad, Gov. Ricketts says he spent time at Tongji University, which has a relationship with the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
“Working with them to train doctors. They’re doing kind of a continuing education program through their Family-Medical Leadership Council. They also have a program where they train medical students,” Ricketts says. “They also have brought over medical practitioners from the United States to help further that information exchange.”
The state also signed an agreement with Chinese officials to create a working demonstration farm, which will be managed by Chinese partners and showcase Nebraska-made farm equipment.
The delegation met with hundreds of business leaders as well.
“We had 150 folks attend our promotional events in Xi’an and Shanghai,” Ricketts says. “We also had the chance to sit down with companies that are investing in Nebraska, specifically World Group, meet with them and further develop that relationship.”
Ricketts says Nebraska-based Preferred Popcorn signed a new contract to sell millions of pounds of bulk popcorn to a Chinese distributor.
Nebraska also formalized a sister-state relationship with Shaanxi Province in China.