Japan-Louisiana ties strengthen as Fuji Vegetable Oil Inc. — a subsidiary of Osaka based Fuji Oil Holdings — is set to construct a $70 million vegetable oil plant in Avondale, Louisiana. While the plant will be completed in 2020, the company plans to begin hiring new employees starting in early 2019. The project will employ 39 permanent workers, with an annual average salary of $77,000. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates that the oil plant will also create 48 new indirect jobs.
Fuji Vegetable Oil Inc. started operations in 1987, and its American headquarters is located in Savannah, Georgia. The company manufactures fats and oils used in the confectionery and baking industries as well as in the production of consumer goods such as detergents, shampoos, and others. The new complex in Louisiana will include facilities for food processing, storage, and distribution. LED expects the construction work to create an additional 200 construction-related jobs.
Fuji Vegetable Oil’s investment in Louisiana has also benefited from local and state incentives. At the local level, community leaders and members of Jefferson Parish — where Avondale is located ― are involved in supporting Fuji Vegetable Oil’s hiring and job training activities. The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Corporation (JEDCO) also provided tax incentive guidance and other logistical support to the company. At the state level, LED awarded the state’s $250,000 Economic development award to Fuji Vegetable Oil and access to its statewide workforce development program, LED FastStart.
Japanese Foreign Direct Investment to Louisiana has grown since 2003, amounting to more than $6 billion dollars over the past 15 years. Japanese FDI has also created more than 3,800 jobs in the state since 2003. Other significant Japanese companies in the region include Panasonic, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Toshiba. Shintech, which is the United States’ largest producer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), also has a large production center in Louisiana. In July, Shintech executives announced plans to invest $1.4 billion in the expansion and creation of existing and new production facilities. Japan is also one of Louisiana’s largest trading partners. Louisiana exported goods and services worth more than $1 billion to Japan in 2016.
Tanvi Banerjee is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the George Washington University studying International Affairs, with a double concentration in Asia and International Development.