Gov. Abbott, Texas business leaders travel to Asia

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas business leaders are heading overseas.

Gov. Greg Abbott is leading a delegation of business groups from around the state on a week-long trip to Asia to build relationships and potentially foster future partnerships. The visit includes three stops in Japan— Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo — as well as Seoul, South Korea.

15 different business organizations will join Abbott on the trip, which his office has dubbed a “mission.”

The delegation is made up of larger and smaller business groups.

“It says we’ve got something for everybody,” said Robert Allen, president and chief executive officer for the Texas Economic Development Corporation. “I think we can handle large projects, medium sized projects and smaller projects.”

“When we talk to businesses it is nice for the governor and for us to be able to demonstrate no matter the size of your project, we’ve got communities and businesses that are here for you and want you,” said Allen, who was also Abbott’s former deputy chief of staff.

The group plans to meet with dignitaries and business leaders

“Texas has a strong cultural and economic bond with Japan and South Korea, and this mission will deepen our growing partnership,” Abbott said in a statement ahead of the trip. “From Toyota to Mitsubishi, leading manufacturing and tech companies have found a home in Texas because of our shared values and commitment to the free enterprise system. I look forward to strengthening these critical relationships and building a brighter future for all those who do business and call Texas home.”

Allen emphasized face-to-face contact between company executives.

“What is most important is the relationships that are formed face-to-face for these communities, these businesses, for the governor, such that when a business decision may come about in the future they don’t have to start blindly,” he explained.

J. Pat Hickman, chairman and chief executive officer of Happy State Bank, based in the Texas panhandle, reiterated the value of cementing current relationships and establishing new ones.

“As opportunities come along, they’re going to say ‘Hey, I met that guy from Texas,’ or, ‘Hey, I know that banker down there and he might— could help me with that,” Hickman said this week.

According to the Governor’s office, Texas exported more than $12.1 billion in goods to Japan last year, making the country the fifth-largest export destination for Texas products. In turn, the state imported $16.7 billion in products from Japan in 2018. That ranks Texas second among states in America for imports from Japan.

Abbott announced a major investment from Japanese automaker Toyota this week. The company, along with one of its major suppliers, Aisin, announced an economic development package totaling close to $800 million. Toyota will invest $391 million at its San Antonio assembly plant, and Aisin will invest $400 million toward a new facility that is expected to bring 900 jobs to Cibolo, a city northeast of San Antonio. Toyota has also announced a broader commitment of $13 billion in its United States operations over five years through 2021.

“Stay tuned. We will have some announcements during the trip, which will be great,” Allen mentioned.

This is not the Texas governor’s first trip to Japan. Most recently, Abbott rang in 2019 on a family trip to Japan.

“Japan is a place that we have wanted to go for a long time,” Allen added. “It is a top market for us, it is a top market for the state of Texas and the governor has been there personally and it would be nice for us to go there professionally as well and extend some of those relationships.”

A spokesperson for the governor said the trip was privately funded by the Texas Economic Development Corporation. Texas taxpayers will foot the bill for Abbott’s round-the-clock security, which is standard procedure, spokesperson John Wittman said.

The following organizations are joining Abbott’s trip:

  • AEP Texas
  • The Borderplex Alliance
  • City Of Dallas – Office of Economic Development
  • Dallas Regional Chamber
  • Greater San Marcos Partnership
  • Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative
  • Happy State Bank
  • Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce
  • McKinney Economic Development Corporation
  • McLane Group
  • Temple Economic Development Corporation
  • Texas Central
  • Texas Economic Development Corporation
  • Toyota Motor North America
  • San Antonio Economic Development Foundation
  • Seguin Economic Development Corporation
  • Wipro

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