Opportunities to expand exports, investments, and tourism as unrestricted travel to South Korea and Japan resumes
Governor Kate Brown finished her trade mission to Asia this month after several days of productive meetings in Japan and South Korea, with a focus on expanding Oregon’s semiconductor industry, agricultural imports, and other trade and tourism opportunities. The Governor was joined by Oregon leaders representing agriculture, tourism, higher education, apparel, technology, and manufacturing.
While in South Korea, the Governor met with U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, as well as with Deputy Prime Minister Choo Kyung-ho and Trade Minister Ahn Dukgeun. She also participated in a foreign investment roundtable with representatives from leading Korean companies, including Samsung; as well as semiconductor companies (Seoul Semiconductor, Jusung Engineering, KoMiCo Ltd., Exicon Co., Ltd.); industrial companies (PPI Pipe, Korea Non-Ferrous Metals Co., Ltd.); global logistics companies (LX Pantos, DongKwang Corporation); and outdoor apparel companies (Youngone Corporation).
South Korea is Oregon’s fourth largest market for export products. Oregon has seen the seventh fastest export growth in the United States over the past five years, and was one of only six states to see positive export growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“South Korea presents many incredible opportunities for Oregon businesses, and it is absolutely critical that we continue to build relationships and engage with our partners in South Korea to maximize these opportunities,” said Governor Brown.
The Governor and trade delegation members also met with Coupang––an e-commerce company that specializes in the rapid distribution of products to customers in Korea, including Oregon blueberries––and discussed the potential to expand the company’s distribution of Oregon products.
Additionally, the Governor and representatives from Business Oregon and the Oregon Department of Agriculture met with top executives from Shinsegae, the company that owns the New Seasons Market grocery chain, to discuss opportunities to expand their investments Oregon.
The Governor and representatives from the Port of Portland also met with President Yoo of SM Line. In 2019, following the Governor’s trade mission to South Korea that year, SM Line announced the return of weekly container service to Portland, a partnership particularly vital to Oregon’s agricultural industry.
“There is huge potential, both to reach Korean customers with Oregon products, and to attract Korean investment, trade, and tourism in Oregon,” said Governor Brown. “And, with direct flights to Incheon from Portland International Airport intended to resume in 2023, I look forward to continuing to expand trade with Korea in the coming months.”
The Governor and representatives from the University of Oregon also met with President Chung of Korea University to discuss ongoing educational partnerships between the two universities and their students.
While in Japan, the Governor met with executives from Hitachi, which opened a nanotechnology innovation center in Hillsboro in September, and with Yamato Transport, which provides transportation options for Japanese and Asian companies in the Pacific Northwest. The Governor and representatives from the University of Oregon also met with leaders from Waseda University, as well as Waseda exchange students from Oregon and Japan.
Japan is Oregon’s sixth largest export market, with Oregon exports to Japan totaling $1.6 billion in 2021. More than 150 Japanese companies have operations in Oregon. While in Tokyo, the Governor met with U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel. At a foreign investment roundtable, the Governor discussed investment in Oregon’s semiconductor sector with representatives from Nikon, AGC Inc., Fujitsu, Fujibo Holdings, Gigaphoton, Showa Denko, Kioxia, Lasertec, the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan, and the Japan External Trade Association.
“Oregon and Japan have a long-standing friendship and, as Japan fully reopens to trade, tourism, and business, it is critical that we rekindle and strengthen our business relationships here,” said Governor Brown.
In Oregon’s sister-state, the Toyama Prefecture, the Governor met with Toyama Governor Hachiro Nitta. With representatives from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Business Oregon, the Governor also met with President Shotaro Tomita of Hokusei Products, which imports a number of Oregon products to Japan, including fruit purees from Oregon Fruit Products in Salem.
The Governor toured the manufacturing facilities of Nousaku Corporation and Kitamura Machinery, as well as the Toyama Industrial Technology Research and Development Center. The Governor also led a women’s leadership roundtable with the Vice Governor of Toyama, Mika Yokota, and women leaders from Oregon and Toyama. The delegation also toured the facilities of Sugino, a Toyama-based company that has partnered with the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose.
The Governor also promoted Oregon tourism, wine, and beer with representatives from the Oregon Wine Board and Travel Oregon. She participated in a media availability at PDX Taproom, a Tokyo business that sells exclusively Oregon craft beer, with Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson and Japanese media to discuss tourism opportunities in Oregon. She also visited Kagurazaka Rouge, a Tokyo wine bar that sells wines from the Pacific Northwest, with Oregon Wine Board President and CEO Tom Danowski.
“There are incredible opportunities, particularly in our semiconductor and agriculture sectors, to attract investment, trade, and tourism from Japan,” said Governor Brown.