So many American Governors are in China right now they should have scheduled a Governors convention in Beijing. The Governors of Oregon, Illinois, Arizona, Iowa and Michigan are all in Beijing this week looking for business for their states. All on separate itineraries, the Governors are primarily looking for Chinese investors to set up operations in their respective states and employ their citizens. After a couple of weeks of this China may want to declare a one-Governor per family policy.
Iowa’s Governor Branstad is primarily focused on promoting agricultural exports and foreign direct investment (FDI) in Iowa. On Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s first trade mission he will stop in Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul. The six-day trip has some in Michigan hoping for a reversal of the outflow of jobs from Michigan to China. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is on the Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing and Hong Kong route looking for Chinese investors and perhaps shopping for cheap fencing.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is finishing up a swing through Japan, South Korea and China as well. Gov. Kitzhaber, on his third non-consecutive term as governor has led missions to Asia a number of times. On this mission he says he is focused on promoting clean energy investments and agriculture exports. Illinois Governor Quinn is leading a 30-member delegation to China looking for export sales and investment deals but also picking up some hints from Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. This is the first trade mission to China by an Illinois governor since Gov. Jim Edgar went in 1996.
Meanwhile, Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman is leading a group of business and community leaders on a trip to Japan – making stops in Tokyo, Ohta City, Nagoya and Tochigi Prefecture. Indiana, which has had a long-term focus on Japan and has maintained a trade office in Tokyo, now has 216 Japanese companies employing 38,460 Hoosiers.
Several of the Midwestern Governors and Lt. Governors are taking advantage of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference scheduled for late September in Tokyo, Japan to add stops in South Korea and or China. Most of the Governors are spending much more time in China than in Japan – a recurring cause of teeth gnashing in Japan. Back in the good ol’ days of the late 1980s and 1990s it was Japan that was awash in American Governors come to beg invite the Japanese to invest in the U.S. Gubanatorial delegations of 30-50 people couldn’t avoid bumping into each other as they went to and fro across the lobby of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. Nowadays the Imperial is largely quiet – filled only with elderly Japanese couples and bridal parties. The delegations have headed further West.