Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he will lead a delegation of Missouri businesses, commodity groups and higher education institutions to South Korea and the Republic of China (Taiwan) from March 15-22. A primary goal of the mission will be the signing of several agreements between the state of Missouri and trade organizations in South Korea and Taiwan. Missouri businesses are also expected to negotiate contracts with customers in South Korea and Taiwan during the trade mission.
"Selling more Missouri-made goods around the globe creates more good jobs for Missourians here at home," Gov. Nixon said. "Missouri businesses recently set all-time records for exports, and our unemployment rate stands at a four-year low. This trade mission will help build on this momentum by identifying new opportunities to sell even more Missouri-made and Missouri-grown goods in these key and growing markets."
The past two calendar years, 2011 and 2012, were the best on record for export sales by Missouri businesses, with a total of $28 billion in Missouri-made goods sold around the world during those two years. South Korea, Missouri's fourth largest trading partner, bought more than $709 million worth of Missouri goods in 2012, an increase of more than 16 percent over 2011. Missouri exports to Taiwan, the state's 24th largest trading partner, continue to be strong, with more than $98 million in 2012, and Taiwan continues to be a huge consumer of Missouri agricultural products and commodities.
Joining Gov. Nixon on the delegation will be: First Lady Georganne Nixon; Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Chris Pieper, acting director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development; State Sen. Jay Wasson (R-Nixa), Senate Minority Floor Leader Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City), State Rep. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield), and State Rep. Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City).
The delegation will include representatives of Missouri businesses, commodity groups and higher education institutions, including Monsanto, RIBUS Inc., Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Co., Missouri-Pacific Lumber Co., Missouri Energy Development Association, Energy Saver LED, Diva Maker, the Missouri Corn Growers Association, American Botanicals, the Missouri Soybean Association, NeCo Seeds, Missouri State University, Northwest Missouri State University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
"Missouri corn growers rely on access to strong export markets, and these countries represent growing opportunities for the state's corn industry," said Kevin Hurst of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, a member of the delegation. "Gov. Nixon's efforts to open new markets and increase demand for our products overseas can make a real difference for farmers here at home."
"Exports to Asia are driving the soybean market in Missouri and across the U.S.," said Dale Ludwig, the executive director/CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association. "Trade missions like this one help drive additional demand for soybeans overseas, and contribute to the success of soybean farmers here in Missouri."
"Selling our products to customers around the globe has helped fuel our company's exponential growth over the past several years," said Steve Peirce of RIBUS, Inc., a member of the delegation and recipient of Missouri's 2011 Agricultural Exporter of the Year Award. "With markets on five continents and in more than 40 countries, we see the benefits of international exports firsthand, each and every day. This delegation will afford us another promising opportunity to build new relationships overseas and build prosperity here at home."
"As a growing family-owned business, we are especially aware of the importance of exports to our bottom line," said Michael Cook of NeCo Seed Farm Inc., a member of the delegation. "We look forward to this opportunity to establish new relationships with new customers that will pay dividends for our company, our farmer growers, and our employees for years to come."
In Seoul, Gov. Nixon is scheduled to meet with governmental and business leaders, including the Chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Small & Medium Business Corporation, the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea-U.S. Economic Council.
In Taipei, Gov. Nixon is scheduled to meet with governmental and business leaders and with the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei.
"In our preparation of future leaders, we recognize the importance of providing our students with a diverse experience. Therefore, this is an outstanding opportunity to extend our university's reach and raise our profile in this critical part of the world," said Dr. Douglas Dunham of Northwest Missouri State University, a member of the delegation. "We appreciate Gov. Nixon's commitment to ensuring students, businesses, and educational institutions alike are thinking - and competing - on a global scale."
"Agriculture is vital to our economy and our way of life, supporting thousands of jobs and generating billions in economic activity. That's especially true in southwest Missouri," said Sen. Wasson. "This mission is a unique opportunity to open new international markets for farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in our region and create jobs across our state."
The Governor and members of the delegation will arrive in Taipei on Sunday, March 17. The delegation will travel to Seoul, on Tuesday, March 19 and depart for Missouri on Friday, March 22. Travel costs for Gov. and Mrs. Nixon will be covered by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in Missouri. Taxpayer funds will not be used.
Gov. Nixon has made creating opportunities for Missouri businesses to sell their products around the globe a top priority of his administration. The Governor led successful trade missions to China (October 2011) and Brazil (April 2012), which resulted in agreements to sell $4.6 billion in Missouri goods to Chinese consumers, and the state's first-ever trade agreement with the State of São Paulo, Brazil's financial capital. To continue this momentum, the Governor's Fiscal Year 2014 budget calls for $2.3 million in funding to help businesses identify and access new export opportunities and to expand the state's presence in emerging markets around the world.