Oregon Governor Kate Brown this week wrapped her visit to South Korea and Japan, a 12-day trip she said was to strengthen trade relations with the countries as well as to pursue economic development opportunities for Oregon companies.
It was the governor’s first trip to Asia since 2019, joined by Oregon leaders representing agriculture, tourism, higher education, apparel, technology, and manufacturing.
Brown said her goal was to expand Oregon’s semiconductor industry, agricultural imports and other trade and tourism opportunities.
“We certainly have had a series of productive meetings around the semiconductor industry in Japan,” Brown said in a statement from Japan this week. “Hitachi, for example, has facilities in Hillsboro which are a part of Intel’s semiconductor research and development ecosystem.”
She added that she believes there are “huge opportunities to partner around semiconductors with Japan” following the signing of the federal Chips and Science Act earlier this year.
Japan is Oregon’s sixth largest export market, with Oregon exports to Japan totaling $1.6 billion in 2021. More than 150 Japanese companies have operations in Oregon. While in Tokyo, Governor Brown met with U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel.
At a foreign investment roundtable, Governor Brown discussed investment in Oregon’s semiconductor sector with representatives from Nikon, AGC Inc., Fujitsu, Fujibo Holdings, Gigaphoton, Showa Denko, Kioxia, Lasertec, the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan, and the Japan External Trade Association.
“Oregon and Japan have a long-standing friendship and, as Japan fully reopens to trade, tourism, and business, it is critical that we rekindle and strengthen our business relationships here,” Brown said.
“There are incredible opportunities, particularly in our semiconductor and agriculture sectors, to attract investment, trade, and tourism from Japan.”
South Korea is Oregon’s fourth largest market for export products. Oregon has seen the seventh fastest export growth in the United States over the past five years and was one of only six states to see positive export growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While in Korea, the Governor and trade delegation members met with Coupang — an e-commerce company specializing in the rapid distribution of products to customers in Korea, including Oregon blueberries — and discussed the potential to expand the company’s distribution of Oregon products.
“South Korea presents many incredible opportunities for Oregon businesses, and it is absolutely critical that we continue to build relationships and engage with our partners [there] to maximize these opportunities,” said Brown.
“There is huge potential, both to reach Korean customers with Oregon products, and to attract Korean investment, trade and tourism in Oregon.”
Brown promoted Oregon tourism and beer in a media availability at PDX Taproom, a Tokyo business that exclusively sells Oregon craft beer, with Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson and Japanese media to discuss tourism opportunities in Oregon.
She also visited Kagurazaka Rouge, a Tokyo wine bar that sells wines from the Pacific Northwest, with Oregon Wine Board President and CEO Tom Danowski.
Brown’s trip overlapped with Democrat Joe Biden’s second visit to Portland this year, with Republican critics calling it a deliberate effort to distance herself from the unpopular first-term president. Her office, however, maintained that the trade mission’s itinerary had been set months earlier.
The outgoing governor, who is term-limited, says she is confident her visit will bring economic growth and encourage strong relationships beyond her administration.
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