Nebraska signs a trade agreement with a Japanese district even as the Trump Administration threatens Japan and other trading partners with sanctions.
Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture during a ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda.
Hyogo companies have invested substantial sums in Nebraska, including Kawasaki, Yasufuku, S Foods, and American Shizuki Corporation.
Ricketts says Japan is a valuable trading partner of Nebraska.
“While we’re still negotiating trade agreements we want to remember that these agreements have been very beneficial to both Nebraska and Japan,” Ricketts tells reporters. “Japan is our fourth largest export market, our third largest market for agricultural products. We saw our beef exports to Japan last year go up by 26%, pork exports went up 46%. So, there’s a great market opportunity for our producers.”
The governor’s office reports that about 35 Japanese-based companies employ at least 9,400 Nebraskans.
In addition, the University of Nebraska and University of Hyogo have signed an agreement to collaborate on research.
Ricketts says he’s pleased President Trump has just reached an agreement with the European Union to drop tariffs and re-open free trade between the two, which includes the promise by the EU to buy more American soybeans.
“Buying more of our soybeans is important,” Ricketts says. “We’ve seen the price of soybeans drop about two dollars since some of these trade tensions have started earlier this spring. So, I think that’s very positive and we want to see continued progress made not only with the European Union, but with regard to NAFTA and Japan and all of our trading partners so that we can open up opportunities for our producers.”
Ricketts calls the $12 billion bailout for agriculture offered by the Trump Administration a short-term solution to give the U.S. time to re-negotiate trade deals.
Later this year, Omaha will host the 50th annual conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.