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Stressing the importance of Missouri goods, Gov. Jay Nixon outlined specifics of his trip to Asia after finalizing trade agreements in Taiwan and South Korea. KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports.
The Governor addressed reporters during a conference call Thursday morning, detailing a series of contracts totaling $1.9 billion in Missouri goods over the next four years that are intended to boost the state’s agriculture, manufacturing and biotech sectors.
Nixon says his trip was another example of the importance of boosting the state’s economy.
“One of the most effective ways for us to do that is to make sure Missouri businesses compete in every corner of the globe. It’s simple, when we sell more Missouri products overseas, we create more jobs for workers at home,” Nixon said.
Agreements included two in Taiwan; a $200 million agreement between the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Taiwan Feed Industry Association, and a $500 million agreement between the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. Three other agreements were signed with South Korea; $600 million with the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea-U.S. Economic Council, and another $600 million deal with the Korea Importers Association.
Nixon also met with government officials from both nations, plus laid a wreath at the Missouri section of the Hall of Heroes at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul, honoring the more than 900 Missourians who fought and died during the Korean War.
He says 2011-2012 marked the two best years on record for Missouri exports, totaling $28 billion in goods sold globally. Nixon said those figures have been a key factor in keeping the state’s unemployment rate below the national average for 42 consecutive months.
The Governor added that he believes foreign markets, especially South Korea, are receiving additional pressure to import more goods.
“This is an economy that’s special on the agriculture side; they are not able to feed themselves. But for the United States of American and other exporters of grain, they would not have enough food for their growing population.”
He says Missouri farmers will feel a positive impact from these arrangements, noting that the state’s corn and soybeans are recognized for their quality, and that Missourians can deliver the quantities within these agreements.
“I think with the rising commodity prices, and coming off last year’s drought, this is an especially important year for all of us to have certainly in the demand for markets. This will help provide that certainty, the hundreds of millions of dollars in direct contracts will keep that price in a range where it can be predictable.”
The Governor was joined by several Missouri political and business leaders, including Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Co. out of Webb City, who specializes in scales for trucks, physicians and food. Vice President of Sales Fred Cox says the company saw this as an opportunity to increase their presence in Taiwan and South Korea.
“They’ve been able to identify types of businesses that would buy our scales and have arranged appointments for my salesman Frank Nivoa and wish to meet with those,” Cox said. “In fact, he’s reported back to me an email last night, of a lot of good success with distributors there that are looking for our type of product.”
Cox adds that the company’s domestic market is a mature market because they’ve been in it for many years, so exporting is their avenue for growth. He says since 2008 Cardinal’s export market has grown 25 percent and helped boost the labor force in southwest Missouri.
Local legislators along for the trip to Asia included Senator Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, and Rep. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield.
Nixon also offered his perception of the attitude in South Korea amid threats from North Korea.
“I think that most of the folks that we have talked to, quite frankly all of the folks that we have talked to, have felt that this was, you know, continued bluster of a young leader [Kim Jong-un] that is not going to affect day-to-day commerce or the safety of this region,” Nixon said.
The Governor added he believes citizens in South Korea are very proud of their strong coalition with the United States.
For KSMU news, I’m Scott Harvey.