Governor Kitzhaber told the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Friday that increasing the state's future trade of products and expertise with China and the rest of Asia represents a critical opportunity to create jobs for Oregonians.
"China is one of our top trading partners and an enormous opportunity for growing businesses back home in Oregon," said Governor Kitzhaber. "We are here to talk about our leadership in clean technology and green building, as well as how we can help meet the needs of Hong Kong and Chinese businesses looking to expand into a state with a highly competitive business environment."
During the 10-day trade mission, Governor Kitzhaber is promoting Oregon agricultural products; touting Oregon's expertise in green building and clean technology; checking in with companies doing business in Oregon; promoting Oregon tourism; growing government-to-government relationships; promoting Oregon's ports; and exploring new opportunities for Asian businesses to expand into Oregon.
"As a highly trade-dependent state, I don't need to tell you that our relationship with China is as important as ever," Governor Kitzhaber told the audience. "Hong Kong serves as our gateway to this critical Chinese market, and is a key part of Oregon's economic future."
The Governor noted that Oregon's agriculture exports to the region now exceed $250 million a year, and in Shanghai, Oregon grass seed has helped control erosion in the Yangtze River basin for the last 20 years. In addition, Oregon foods -- including wine, hazelnuts, cherries, Dungeness crab, and oysters -- are seeing impressive sales growth all over greater China, with greater China being the state's largest export customer of Oregon hazelnuts.
Oregon's exports to Asia remain a critical component of the state's economy, with international trade growing to over $18 billion in foreign sales last year. China is currently one of Oregon's largest trading partners with $1.6 billion in exports from Oregon during the first eight months of 2012. Meanwhile, Japan remains a vital export market for the state's agricultural products.
Governor Kitzhaber closed the event by pointing to the two countries' shared interests: "After all, as societies perched on the Pacific Rim, we breathe the same air, eat fish from the same ocean, and, to a great extent, share a common future."
Later in the day, Governor Kitzhaber marked the opening of pear season with a ribbon cutting at the Hong Kong grocery store "Taste." Northwest pear shipments to Hong Kong have doubled in the past 5 years, making Hong Kong one of Oregon's most important pear export markets. The Governor and the business delegation go to Japan next, with meeting and events in Kyoto and Tokyo.