Gov. Jay Nixon will lead a trade mission of Missouri agriculture and business leaders to the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) from Dec. 10 to Dec. 16. The centerpiece of the mission will be the signing of a letter of intent, under which Taiwanese businesses and industry groups will purchase $600 million of Missouri agricultural and other products, including corn and soybeans.
Joining Gov. Nixon on the trade mission will be First Lady Georganne Nixon; David Kerr, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development; Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; and senior leaders from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Missouri Soybean Association; Missouri Corn Growers Association; Missouri Rice Council; Missouri Energy Development Association; Missouri Biotechnology Association; Boeing Corporation; Pfizer; Advantage Capital Partners; and other major industry associations and businesses.
Among other high-level meetings, Gov. Nixon is scheduled to meet personally with the President of Taiwan, Ying-jeou Ma; the Taiwanese Minister of Foreign of Affairs, Timothy Yang; and the South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Sung-hwan Kim.
"Missouri farmers, engineers and scientists have the expertise, knowledge and drive to compete at home and around the world," Gov. Nixon said. "This agreement highlights Missouri's vital role in the global marketplace, and is another sign that our economy is moving in the right direction. Taiwan is a significant trade partner for our state, and I appreciate their willingness to do more business with Missouri. Throughout this important trade mission, I will be looking for new and innovative opportunities to help Missouri businesses expand their markets, create more jobs and move our economy forward."
The letter of intent expresses Taiwan's desire to purchase an average of $120 million in Missouri goods each year for the next five years. In 2009, Missouri exports to Taiwan totaled $69.1 million. Initial projections through the third quarter of 2010 indicate an increase of about 28 percent, for a total of about $88 million.
The Governor also is scheduled to witness the signing of a sales agreement between Missouri-based NECO Seed Farms and a Taiwanese customer, Central Union. The value of this sales agreement is expected to be approximately $1.2 million.
"From crops to chemicals, and aircraft to automobiles, Missouri products can compete in every corner of the globe," said Dan Mehan, chief executive officer of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who will be a member of the delegation. "Gov. Nixon has made it clear that expanding Missouri exports will be a cornerstone of our strategy to create jobs and grow our economy, and the Chamber stands ready to support those efforts. We look forward to working with Gov. Nixon to open new doors for Missouri businesses in markets around the globe on this trip, and when we return."
"Missouri farmers feed, fuel and clothe the world," said Alex Stemme, Director of Identity-Preserved Products for the Missouri Soybean Association, who will be a member of the delegation. "The export market is vital for our products, and it's critical that we continue to expand our international sales, especially as we emerge from the economic challenges of the past few years. This is a significant trade agreement for our industry and our entire state."
"Customers worldwide depend on Missouri farmers to produce the corn they need, and Missouri farmers depend on a strong global market," said Rob Korff, Vice President of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, who will be a member of the delegation. "We are encouraged by continued growth in both corn and meat exports, because stronger international sales translate to stronger economic growth at home. Having our Governor standing with us as we meet with existing and potential customers in Taiwan and South Korea is a real competitive advantage, and we are confident this trade mission will benefit farmers in every corner of Missouri."
"When it comes to Missouri agriculture, rice means business," said Greg Yielding, Field Representative for the Missouri Rice Council and the U.S. Rice Producers Association, who will be a member of the delegation. "Missouri's rice production continues to grow, and prospects for increased exports to Central and South America and Asia are promising. We appreciate this opportunity to join Gov. Nixon and our partners from other commodities for this important trade mission, and we are optimistic that these conversations will lead to new customers for Missouri producers."
This new letter of intent with Taiwan follows the signing of a joint communiqué witnessed by Gov. Nixon on Oct. 2, 2009. The communiqué, signed by the Taiwanese and American agricultural associations, expressed Taiwan's desire to purchase 303 million to 413 million bushels of U.S. corn and 110 bushels to 118 million bushels of U.S. soybeans in 2010 and 2011. Gov. Nixon witnessed the signing of the communiqué during a visit to his office by the Taiwan Agricultural Goodwill Mission, led by Dr. Paul Sun, former minister of agriculture for Taiwan.
Gov. Nixon and the members of the trade mission will arrive in Taiwan on Dec. 11, and take part in meetings on Dec. 12, 13 and 14. On Dec. 14, the mission will travel to Seoul, South Korea, for the second portion of the trip.
While in Seoul, the Governor and delegates will participate in high-level meetings with government and business leaders. The Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) will host Gov. Nixon and members of the mission for a luncheon on Dec. 15.
In September, the KCCI sent a delegation of senior corporate leaders to Missouri for meetings with Gov. Nixon and members of his administration, including Directors Kerr and Hagler. Gov. Nixon welcomed the KCCI delegation to Missouri during a ceremony in his office and addressed the group at a luncheon. South Korea consistently ranks as one of Missouri's largest international trading partners.
"When it comes to international trade and growth, South Korea is one of Missouri's most important partners," Gov. Nixon said. "During the visit by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry in September, we began important discussions about how to expand this relationship in the years to come. I look forward to continuing those discussions in Seoul."
During their visit, Gov. Nixon and the First Lady also will mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War by laying a wreath at the War Memorial in Seoul and visiting with Missouri troops stationed in South Korea. The mission will return to the United States on Dec. 16.
In keeping with state practice, travel costs for Gov. and Mrs. Nixon will be covered by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in Missouri. Taxpayer funds will not be used to pay travel costs for the Governor or First Lady.