SALT LAKE CITY – Last week, Gov. Gary R. Herbert led a delegation of 22 Utah businesses and organizations on a trade mission to Japan. Throughout the trade mission, in partnership with World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah), the delegation members participated in more than 60 meetings with business and government leaders.
Before joining Gov. Herbert in Japan, Justin Harding, the governor’s Chief of Staff, and Val Hale, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, led the Utah business delegation to Hong Kong, where the delegation expanded Utah’s trade and investment relationships with important businesses and institutions.
“Connecting Utah companies with businesses in Hong Kong and Japan was the purpose of this trade mission,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “The relationships participants made will help create more Utah jobs and help Utah companies have more international success.”
In Hong Kong, the delegation visited Modern Terminals, a company that owns and operates container terminals at Kwai Tsing Container Port and DaChan Bay Terminals in the Pearl River Delta. The delegation gained valuable insight into Modern Terminals’ business model and the critical role ports play in the global trade market. This visit was especially helpful to the delegation to see the large port operations first-hand and make connections for the Utah Inland Port.
To continue discussions on trade and Utah’s Inland Port, state representatives and World Trade Center Utah met with executives from Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL). They discussed ways for Utah to increase its participation in Trans-Pacific Trade via Utah’s Inland Port.
“The business community in Utah has always been very supportive of OOCL from day one when we decided to open our strategic office in Salt Lake City,” said Andy Tung, co-chief executive officer of OOCL. “That is why we are very happy with the opportunity to reciprocate with our hospitality to them during their trade mission to Hong Kong. We had many productive and helpful discussions on wide-ranging topics from transportation infrastructure, new partnership opportunities, to challenges we face in the digitization of the industry. The level of cooperation among the public and private sectors is simply outstanding, and we certainly look forward to continuing our dialogues to facilitate trade and grow our businesses together.”
In Japan, Gov. Herbert and the delegation met with Rakuten, the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales. The company has more than 150 employees in Utah and operates Japan’s biggest internet bank and number one credit card company by transaction value. Delegates discussed new trade opportunities and learned about the growing e-commerce market in Asia. They were also able to build relationships and learn how Rakuten could help Utah businesses grow and expand.
Gov. Herbert met with two newly appointed ministers in President Shinzo Abe’s administration: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Keisuke Suzuki, and Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Development, Hideki Makihara. They discussed how Utah and Japan could strengthen already-strong economic ties.
In Tokyo, Gov. Herbert also met with Japanese business leaders at the U.S. deputy chief of mission residence, including a senior executive from SoftBank, a large investment fund that has invested more than $50 billion in U.S. technology companies. Gov. Herbert shared with these leaders the explosive growth of Utah’s tech industry and discussed why Utah is an attractive investment destination.
“Under Gov. Herbert’s leadership, Utah’s economy has outperformed every other state in the country,” said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. “This is particularly true in Utah’s tech industry, and international investors and business leaders are taking note. The real work for this trade mission is just beginning as we channel the momentum and connections generated in Hong Kong and Japan during this trip to support the growth of Utah companies in Asia and attract investment to Utah.”