Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Japan Trade Missions Paying off for State Officials

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Japan Trade Missions Paying off for State Officials

Article excerpt

Trade missions by Oklahoma officials to Japan apparently are paying off.

An announcement of another Japanese firm setting up operations in the sooner state is expected around the middle of June, according to Bill Maus, director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce's International Division.

Maus discussed the pending announcement at Thursday's meeting of Oklahoma Futures, a 21-member public/private board designed to oversee operations of the state's economic development efforts.

About 15 Japanese firms have said they will be sending survey teams to Oklahoma in the coming weeks and months in response to the latest visit by Oklahoma officials to Japan, which concluded May 18.

The 13-member delegation which went on the 12-day investment mission were members of the governor's international team, who visited approximately 38 firms in an effort to increase Oklahoma's visibility in the Japanese marketplace.

According to Maus, this was the fifth mission to Japan in the past two years.

Though he said it was up to the company to release details of the announcement, Maus did say the new firm coming to Oklahoma will be forming a partnership with an existing state business in the high technology industry.

The Japanese company's decision to come to Oklahoma culminated from a previous trade mission.

The latest mission to Japan should also prove fruitful in bringing more Japanese investment dollars to Oklahoma, in the opinion of Dick Rush, president of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and Industry who was a member of the delegation.

Rush said the members divided into teams and met with firms with which the state had made contact already in previous trips as well as with different companies.

"I feel confident we will see some positive results from this visit," Rush said. "The reason for us being there is to develop our entrepreneural opportunities between Oklahoma companies and Japanese companies."

Though there were no commitments made by Japanese firms investing in or establishing operations in Oklahoma as a result of this latest mission, Maus stated about 15 companies have said they would end survey teams to see for themselves what Oklahoma has to offer.

"The state really doesn't get commitments from these kinds of visits. The companies will send survey teams to the state, and it's the communities which actually sell themselves," said Maus.

Maus said the survey team will visit the state at various times. The first teams may be visiting as early as in the next few weeks.

The international team was in Japan from May 6 to May 18 and visited such cities as Tokyo, Osaka and Oklahoma's sister state, Kyoto.

Rush said that because of the rising value of the yen it is in Oklahoma's best interest to make itself known to Japanese business.

"The strength of the yen today means that is less cost effective for them (Japanese manufacturers) to manufacture in Japan then distribute in the U.S." said Rush.

"They are finding a need to set up manufacturing operations here, develop and distribute their products here. That makes the window of opportunity for Oklahoma and many other states to attract those industries."

Rush said 36 states currently are recognized by the Japanese, with much of the investment going to such states as California and Georgia, which have had ties with Japan for a number of years.

The international team missions, such as this recent trip and one make last October attended by Gov. Henry Bellmon, are important, Rush's said, because they make Oklahoma visible to the Japanese as state where they can make their investment.

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