Trade has been front of mind for Nebraskans and Americans across the country over the last couple of years. President Trump has put a new focus on getting the best trade deals for our country, and has succeeded in securing new agreements with Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. His administration is also holding bilateral trade talks with the European Union, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
For Nebraska, international markets have created major opportunities for our top industries, agriculture and manufacturing, for many years. With over 95 percent of the world’s population beyond America’s borders, there are endless opportunities to promote the quality products we are producing. From jobs at Hendrix Genetics in Grand Island, Kawasaki in Lincoln, and Novozymes in Blair to the beef we export to China and partnerships with higher education, Nebraska is building a strong global presence, which is helping to grow opportunities for farm families and working Nebraskans.
To expand trade opportunities, I have led missions to Mexico, Canada, Japan twice, China twice, and the European Union. These missions have resulted in new investments in Nebraska and have been followed by expanded exports to key markets. We are taking this momentum and building on it. This year, I worked with my Council for International Relations to release a strategic plan for growing trade. Right now, my team is working on preparing trade missions for the coming year. Here are a few of our critical markets we are focused on and some of the successes we have seen.
Mexico & Canada: Our neighbors to the north and south are Nebraska’s top two trade partners. We ship over $1 billion in products to each of these countries annually. After our trade mission to Canada last year, Agri-plastics, a Canadian company, created jobs with a new facility in Sidney. One of President Trump’s top promises was to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, and he announced a new agreement in September, which is called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. That agreement was recently signed by the three countries and is now awaiting congressional approval before it is finalized.
Japan: Japan is Nebraska’s largest direct international investor and second largest export market outside of North America. Nebraska’s oldest Japanese investment, Kawasaki, employs over 2,000 people in Lincoln. With two trade missions in the last two years, our beef exports to the country have increased 46 percent year-over-year and our pork exports 26 percent. This year, Nebraska had the honor of hosting the 50th Annual U.S. Midwest-Japan Association Conference, which allowed us to show off the Good Life to hundreds of Japanese business representatives and government officials involved in trade and investment.
China: As the second largest economy in the world, China is a very large market with many opportunities for Nebraska’s ag producers. It is an important market for Nebraska’s soybeans, beef, hides and skins, and sorghum. Following our trade mission to China in 2016, President Trump successfully worked to reopen China’s market to beef. The state has also established a model farm in China to help our agriculture equipment manufacturers market their products.
South Korea: South Korea is an important market for Nebraska. South Korea is a major consumer of Nebraska beef, corn, and hides and skins. That is part of the reason why both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Economic Development have traveled there in 2018. In September, President Trump announced a new deal with South Korea, which we believe will support further growth in trade between Nebraska and South Korea.
European Union (EU) & the United Kingdom: The EU is home to over 500 million people and has strong demand for our beef and soybeans. Right now, the Trump Administration is in trade negotiations with the EU. Moreover, with Brexit happening in just a few months, we look for this to be an opportunity for the United States to strike a new bilateral trade deal with the United Kingdom (UK). Nebraska has already had some success with promoting beef in the UK, and we would like to see a deal that allows us to sell more of our quality ag products to Great Britain.
These are just a few of the key markets for Nebraska in the coming years. In addition to the trade missions I lead, we have a team of trade representatives who are working in my agencies and are traveling internationally to promote Nebraska on a regular basis. If you see an opportunity to promote Nebraska internationally, we want to work with you to gain access to new export markets and figure out how to promote Nebraska products overseas. For more information, please email me at email@example.com or call 402-471-2244.
Pete Ricketts is governor of the State of Nebraska.