Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan has just returned from an eleven-day trade mission to China and Japan, September 4 through 15. This is Governor Snyder’s third visit to Asia, his first trip was in 2011 to Japan, China and Korea, followed by another in 2012 to China. His goal is to strengthen Michigan’s trade relationship with developed and emerging Asian markets, including increasing Michigan’s agricultural exports to the region and promoting Michigan as a tourism destination.
“This is an important trip and builds on trips of the past. We continue to build strong relationships with our Asian partners” Governor Snyder explained before his departure to the region. “We are going to be really busy. But that’s how we are going to continue to bring more and better jobs to Michigan.”
Governor Snyder led a delegation of 20 state and private sector executives that included Michael Finney, President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Jamie Clover Adams, Director of Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and George Zimmermann, Director of Travel Michigan.
Speaking to Japanese business leaders at the Midwest U.S –Japan Association conference in Tokyo, the governor explained that “With more than 1,000 divisions, affiliates and subsidiaries of overseas-based companies, Michigan offers a launching pad for global companies in any business.” He further elaborated that “Michigan and the Japan-based companies doing business in our state have enjoyed long and mutually beneficial relationships, and we look forward to continuing to partner with you as our reinvention continues.” He also reaffirmed the state-to-state relationship between Michigan and Shiga Prefecture that was formed in 1968, explaining that “The Michigan-Shiga partnership is one of the oldest sister state agreements between the United States and Japan. We value this long-term friendship with Shiga and we look forward to continuing the relationship for years to come.”
Governor Snyder then flew to China to participate in events in Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing. Speaking with executives of Chongqing Helicopter Company, Snyder emphasized that “With 70 percent of global automotive research and development happening here in Michigan, and our strong manufacturing base and business-friendly environment, there is no better place in North America for Chinese companies to expand than in Michigan.”
Speaking at a Pure Michigan forum in Shanghai, where the Michigan Economic Development Corporation opened an office last year, Synder encouraged more “Chinese travelers to the natural beauty and cultural destinations Michigan has to offer.” Along with attracting Chinese tourists to Michigan, Governor Synder was also looking to increase Michigan’s agricultural exports as both China and Japan rank in the top five markets for Michigan’s agricultural exports. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development hosts annual food exhibitions and forums across Asia, promoting Michigan products. The majority of this department’s global operations are focused on Asia, especially China, Japan and Korea.
In summary, 18 percent of Michigan’s goods and services exports go to Asia, with China and Japan the largest markets, followed by Korea. In addition, companies based in Michigan exported goods valued at $3.3 billion to China last year, an increase of 22 percent from 2011. According to Governor Synder, more than 100 Chinese companies have invested over $1 billion in Michigan. For more Michigan – Asia data, visit the Asia Matters for America state and congressional district page.
JIsoo Lee is an Asan Academy Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington.