REMARKS AS PREPARED
Oregon Media Conference Call
October 13, 2017
Trade missions abroad drive jobs and economic growth here in Oregon. In my first visit to Asia as Governor in 2015, I was inspired to meet leaders from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan and Oregon who work every day to expand our business and trade partnerships.
I am thrilled to return to Asia to strengthen the relationships we've built as I continue to find new ways to grow Oregon's economy, promote our booming agricultural market, and support jobs for Oregonians throughout the state.
In Oregon, we make, grow, and produce things – things that are innovative, useful, and several that are delicious. We are proud to share our uniquely-Oregon products with the rest of the world.
More than 6,000 companies export from Oregon each year, and Asia has long been a top trading partner.
Oregon and Japan have a special relationship, one that’s based on mutual respect, cultural appreciation, and strong trading partnerships.
Oregon’s coastal communities export a variety of seafood products, while farmers in eastern Oregon export food products, grain, onions, potatoes, and compressed hay. Grass seed, blueberries, hazelnuts, and nursery products are some of the products also moving out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
While Oregon’s economy holds among the top GDP growth in the nation, low unemployment levels, and record export growth, I am focused on ensuring economic growth reaches all corners of the state, particularly in our rural communities.
Oregon’s economy was born from our natural resource-based industries. We’ve made an intentional decision here in Oregon to not stand idly by as consumer demands shift and the global economy and climate changes.
As shared best practices and science guide us toward effective, strategies to preserve Oregon’s diverse habitats, we know our natural resource-based industries will continue to be a mainstay of the Oregon economy.
Our forests are a tried and true resource that may again be the key to economic stability for rural Oregon, expanding opportunity for communities hit hard by the decline of the natural resource economy.
The story of Oregon agriculture is deeply rooted and still growing strong. Oregon is famous across the world for its fresh foods. Whether it’s potatoes, pears, blueberries, our wine or our beers – our state takes great pride in the hard work our farmers have done to give Oregon its great reputation.
Oregon has more than 37,000 family farms growing more than 220 amazing products.
Oregon wheat travels from farms to tables worldwide and is an incredibly important part of our state’s economy and is our top exported crop.
As Oregon’s wines have steadily increased in popularity in Japan, we’re also now seeing Oregon craft cider take off in Japan. There are currently eight brands of Oregon cider available in Japan, and 2 Towns Ciderhouse launched last year-- now selling in stores across Japan.
Oregon has a long and proud history as a premier location for the fruit industry. I’m proud to say that we have thrived amidst these changes in the global economy, and Oregon continues to be the country’s fourth largest exporter of fruit products.
Just a few weeks before coming to Japan, I celebrated the grand opening of St. Cousair Orchards, which is a Japanese-owned company, but is bringing new jobs and economic development to Newberg.
These new investments in Oregon are an exciting opportunity for us to create more jobs and encourage even greater economic growth throughout Oregon.
Oregon is in the business of growing and producing delicious things, and I’m committed to making sure the industry has all the tools to grow: a strong agricultural presence; a deep talent base with decades of experience; and close proximity to Oregon’s famous culinary scene.
One Japanese company that also clearly falls into the “delicious things” category is Ajinomoto Frozen Foods. They invested in Oregon 15 years ago with the vision of putting down roots and delivering their foods to the entire North American market. Ajinomoto now employs 320 Oregonians, and I had the chance to meet with their executives this week. Their signature product, Trader Joe’s Pot Stickers are very well known in the United States.
Oregon looks forward to building and growing the ties with Japan that will help us both reach our goals. I believe Oregon and Japan have much to offer each other—we are communities linked with shared economic goals and cultural values.
Oregon exports to Japan increased last year, while Japanese goods coming into Oregon increased as well. While this is worth celebrating, there is more work to do. Tomorrow’s economy will challenge us to keep finding new ways to share the many talents and goods Oregon has to offer.
I certainly hope that the business between our Oregon and Asia continues to blossom, and that our relationships and cultural exchanges continue.
I am happy to now take your questions.