Utah trade delegation travels to Japan in hopes of economic expansion

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert delivers a speech on, Jan. 27, 2016. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News via AP)

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and representatives from 22 of Utah’s leading companies visited Japan on a trade mission to expand Utah’s global presence, strengthen trade opportunities and forge relationships.

“Through Governor Herbert’s leadership, the state had taken a proactive approach to ensure the stability of Utah’s economy by increasing its global reach,” Val Hale, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said about the trip. 

The World Trade Center and Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development organized the trip and coordinated visits with key investors, government officials, business leaders and trade associations.

Companies traveling with Utah representatives included Applied Composite Technology Aerospace, DPS Skis, Nu Skin Enterprises, Utah Farm Bureau Federation and Zions Bank.

“Trade missions act as a catalyst for increasing business ties between Utah and selected international markets,” World Trade Center Utah president and CEO Miles Hansen said. “As part of the business delegation to Asia, Utah companies are able to make in-person connections with business leaders to further their international growth.”

According to a press release from Utah World Trade Center, U.S. investments in Japan were approximately $129.06 billion as of 2017. Additionally, Utah’s exports to Japan experienced a five-year 47% increase to $811 million in 2017, making Japan a notable destination for Utah goods.

As Utah looks to expand its presence in Asia, the Utah delegation had considered meeting with Hong Kong leaders as well; however, meetings had been postponed due to current political tensions.

Utah leaders are still seeking out relationship-building opportunities with other Asian countries by looking at the needs of those countries.

Japan, for example, relies heavily on imported goods because it lacks mineral resources. As Japan’s buying power increases with a growing GDP, some Utah businesses seek to foster a trade relationship in order to take advantage of the growth.

In order to expand Utah’s presence in Asia, it is in the state’s best interest to “provide a product to markets who have increasing buying power,” said Peter Morgan, Zions Bank executive vice president of National Real Estate Department. He said doing so will help to ensure a growing international presence as Japanese buyers and investors turn to Utah for specific goods.

In an effort to promote Utah’s economy through exports and trade agreements, the trade delegation sought opportunities for substantial and consistent growth as they focus on international trade in order to expand their global presence.

Hansen said Utah’s exports match well with Japan’s needs. “Parallels between Utah and Japan’s thriving industries are abundant,” he said in a press release. “Aerospace, life sciences and energy are top priorities for both markets, and each excels at innovation in these areas.”

Because both regions are doing exceptionally well in these markets, Utah investors and businessmen are turning to Japanese industries and trade agreements as their foundation for building a strong international reputation.

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