A recent trade mission led by Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen reveals a mutual desire to broaden relations with Vietnam beyond agriculture and into new areas.
Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen recently embarked on a trade mission to Vietnam to strengthen trade, investment, economic development, and educational opportunities. This trip marks Governor Pillen’s first trade mission since taking office and the second visit by a Nebraska governor to Vietnam in the last five years.
Vietnam is one of Nebraska’s most significant trading partners as the state is Vietnam’s top supplier of eggs, dry edible beans, and corn gluten meal. Nebraska is also among the country’s top suppliers of beef and a growing export market for Nebraska processed feed such as soybean meal and distillers grain. Total exports to Vietnam from Nebraska exceeded $946 million in 2021, representing about a third of total U.S. agricultural exports to the ASEAN member country.
Governor Pillen’s delegation included Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Sherry Vinton and University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor Joanne Li, as well as other agriculture-related business leaders, academic scholars, and government representatives from across Nebraska.
Between July 9th-15th, 2023, the Nebraska delegation made several stops throughout Vietnam, including grocery stores such as MM Mega Market and New Viet Dairy, to inspect products and understand how they are marketed to shoppers. Both of these grocery stores import significant quantities of U.S. meat products, and Governor Pillen noted that “understanding [what customers are looking for at the grocery store] will allow us to cater more specifically to the desires of those customers in a way that is beneficial to Nebraska farmers, producers, and other related businesses.”
In addition, Chancellor Li from the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) and representatives of Eastern International University (EIU) in Binh Duong signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on finding new avenues of collaboration between the two universities to promote student mobility, learning and research opportunities, and academic projects. UNO currently participates in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) international exchange program, and this new agreement would further promote cultural and knowledge exchange in various disciplines such as science, healthcare, and economics.
During the trade mission, Governor Pillen also signed a MoU with Binh Duong Province Chairman Vo Van Minh on forging a strong relationship for mutual benefit, particularly in the areas of planning, infrastructure development, urban construction, trade, and investment. The MoU also prioritized the high-tech sector, services, education, training, and supply chain development, indicating a significant expansion of Vietnam and Nebraska’s relationship.
Cecilia Winchell is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a recent graduate from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Public Policy.