Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and state Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba will leave on an extensive trade mission Sept. 11 to boost ag exports. The 13-day trip will include stops in Japan, South Korea and China, among Oregon's top trade partners
The trans-Pacific trip is designed to reassure current customers of Oregon agricultural products as well as to prospect for additional opportunities, according to an ODA release.
"These three markets are pivotal to Oregon's export economy, particularly for agricultural products," says Coba. "Our delegation will include industry folks who have a vital interest in export development. But any time we can have the governor travel to these markets, it provides additional opportunities for Oregon agriculture. We just can't afford to pass it up."
The 11-member ag delegation on the tour will target opportunities to help Oregon producers. A growing Asian economy and increased demand for the kinds of products Oregon can provide makes this an important trip.
Stopping first in Japan, the state's No. 1 trade partner, the intention of the delegation is to reaffirm its support.
"The recent triple disaster of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant failures makes it very important for Oregon to re-assert and re-establish our commitment to that important marketplace," says Dalton Hobbs, ODA assistant director. "Having the governor go there in person and hold meetings with key officials and companies is absolutely critical in maintaining the nearly 60-year relationship between Oregon and Japan."
A stop in South Korea comes at a time of great anticipation for the pending Korean Free Trade Agreement, yet to be ratified by Congress and Korea.
"If and when that happens later this year or early next year, the trade agreement will provide a huge opportunity for a host of Oregon products," says Hobbs. "Over a five-year period, the agreement will take tariff currently in the 30% to 40% range on some products and whittle them away to zero."
Visiting China last, the delegation will be in the most rapidly growing export market for agricultural products.
"ODA has been working for a number of years on a joint relationship with the government of China to inspect and certify U.S. food products going into that marketplace," says Hobbs.
Oregon first ventured into China in the 1980s when grass seed growers began to fill a need for a quickly developing nation. However, China is known as a low-price market for Oregon producers at this time.