This week, I’m leading a delegation to Germany to grow trade between Nebraska and the European Union (EU). Our delegation includes the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the University of Nebraska, ag producers, business leaders, and several other members. Together, we’ll promote Nebraska products and machinery, thank companies that have created jobs in Nebraska, and invite German firms to invest in our state.
Germany has the largest population and biggest economy of the EU’s member states. Germany is the world’s fourth-biggest economy. Strengthening Nebraska’s connections there is an important part of my administration’s strategy to grow Nebraska globally. In total, the EU purchased $1.2 billion of Nebraska exports in 2018, including $245 million of soybeans. Because of its economic strength, Germany has significant influence over EU trade policies. During our mission, we are meeting with key leaders in Germany’s government, both at the federal and local levels, to discuss ways to reduce trade barriers to Nebraska agricultural exports.
This week’s trade mission will also allow us to promote Nebraska beef. In August, President Trump signed a new deal with the EU to increase beef exports from the U.S. to the European Union. The agreement nearly triples the amount of duty-free beef that the EU imports from America each year. This is fantastic news for us as the Beef State. In 2005, Nebraska supplied only 5% of U.S. beef exported to the EU. By 2018, our share had risen to 53% and was valued at $124.3 million. During our time in Germany, we’ll meet with distributors to discuss how to further grow the amount of Nebraska beef available in European grocery stores and restaurants.
Agritechnica, the biggest agricultural trade fair in the world, is one of the most important stops during our mission. Held in the city of Hannover, Agritechnica features 2,800 exhibitors and hosts 450,000 visitors from 130 countries. Nebraska companies, such as Lindsay Corporation and Orthman Manufacturing, will have exhibits there. The trade fair showcases agricultural technologies and will give us a chance to learn about the latest scientific advancements in the industry. We will also talk with European purchasers to promote the innovative farm equipment and machinery manufactured right here in Nebraska.
Our trade delegation will also visit German companies that have created jobs in Nebraska. For example, we are meeting with executives from CLAAS and Graepel, both of which have their North American headquarters in Omaha. CLAAS manufactures agricultural machinery like harvesters and balers, and Graepel produces sheet metal products. We will also spend time with leaders from Evonik, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals that has produced lysine in Blair since 1999. Additionally, we will sit down with the team at Bayer, a German company that recently purchased Monsanto. Bayer, which has been doing crop science research and development in Nebraska for years, has multiple facilities across the state. This July, I teamed up with Bayer to highlight the importance of detasseling during visits to York and Seward. I also traveled to Bayer’s St. Louis headquarters in September to speak with their leadership. Bayer has made substantial investments in crop research at our state’s universities. The company collaborates with faculty at the University of Nebraska to research pest control methods and to study the precision management of water and nutrients. Having in-person, face-to-face meetings with leaders of these businesses will deepen our state’s relationship with them and set the stage to grow the relationships for years to come.
Ethanol presents another opportunity for this mission. In May, the European Commission (EC) eliminated restrictive duties on U.S. ethanol. Those duties had largely closed off the European market to Nebraska ethanol since 2013. In light of the EC’s decision to do away with them, we’ll explore opportunities to bring Nebraska’s quality ethanol products to the German fuel market. We will also encourage German officials to reconsider other trade barriers that have made it difficult for U.S. ethanol producers to sell to Europe.
Nebraska’s economy continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Nebraska’s GDP growth has outperformed the national average in the first two quarters of 2019. For the second quarter of 2019, our state’s GDP growth was 2.4 percent, which was 12th best in the nation. This success would not be possible without the hard work, determination, and resilience of our people. We have endured blizzards, floods, trade challenges with China, and more in 2019. But despite it all, our state continues to thrive thanks to the hard work and innovation of our people.
Throughout this week, I invite you to visit www.governor.nebraska.gov for updates on our trade mission to Germany. If you have ideas of other international opportunities that we should consider, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244.
Pete Ricketts is the governor of Nebraska.