Gov. Pete Ricketts has opened the 50th annual Midwest United States – Japan Association Conference by outlining the importance of Japanese trade to Nebraska.
The conference, being hosted by Nebraska in Omaha, is expected to attract approximately 400 Japanese and American business executives and government officials.
Ricketts tells those gathered at the conference that the Midwest and Japan have a lot in common.
“One of the reasons, I believe, the relationship between the midwestern states and Japan is so strong is because of our shared values,” Ricketts states. “We share the values of family and the importance of it, the importance of education, the importance of hard work; of investing in our communities and seeking to grow those.”
Ricketts says Japan has been vital to Nebraska’s economic growth.
Japan is Nebraska’s four largest trading partner. Japan is the top importer of Nebraska beef, pork, and eggs.
It is also the largest foreign direct investor in Nebraska.
“Since 2010, Japanese companies have invested $4.4 billion in our state, helping to create 94-hundred jobs, adding to our communities, not only economically, but also culturally,” according to Ricketts.
As an example, Ricketts points out Kawasaki has had a manufacturing plant in Lincoln for more than 40 years. It now produces passenger rail cars for use throughout the United States as well as all-terrain vehicles, recreation utility vehicles, and personal watercraft. Kawasaki employs more than 2,000 workers at its facility in Lincoln.
Other Japanese companies operate manufacturing facilities throughout Nebraska.
“Now, part of our responsibility is to make sure that we have an environment that encourages that investment,” Ricketts states.
Ricketts says states must trim regulations and must also cut taxes which could prohibit factories from investing.
Members of the Trump Administration are on hand as well as a dozen governments from American states and Japanese prefectures.
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this report.