Lowry to reinforce relations in trade mission to Taiwan and Japan

OLYMPIA -- Building on a successful business relationship with Asia, Gov. Mike Lowry today announced he will travel to Taiwan and Japan next week to continue developing investment, trade and commerce for Washington companies.

"Japan is our top trading partner, and Taiwan ranks fifth in that category," the governor said. "We must continue to build commercial links with these partners so that we can bolster our trade with the Pacific Rim."

The trade and investment mission, scheduled for Oct. 13-19, will feature an investment seminar for Taiwanese businesses to learn about opportunities in Washington. Among his other stops will be meetings with Taiwan's President Li Teng-hui and Premier Lien Chan, and a meeting with Gov. Kaihara in Kobe, Japan. There, the governors will tour areas under reconstruction that were destroyed by earthquake in 1995.

Lowry said international trade is a major component of Washington's economy. In Washington, one in five jobs depends on trade, and the state is the highest per capita exporter in the nation. With only 2 percent of the country's population, Washington handles 8 percent of all United States trade. On the average, jobs related to international trade pay 17 percent more than others.

"We need to increase the number of small businesses involved in international trade," Lowry said. "Our Asian trading partners represent a huge market that is virtually untapped. We want Washington businesses to be in a position to inform that market about our high quality products."

Financial experts now paint Taiwan as a wealthy nation with more than $90 billion to invest, and Washington is beginning to see the benefit of such investment. Southwest Washington became the winning contender for the site of Wafertech in Camas with an initial $1.2 billion investment.

"Companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor continue to tell me that our commitment to quality education, a high quality of life for their workforce and an attractive business climate are what they look for in investment and expansion plans," the governor said. "Washington has all of those factors, and we're eager to let our Pacific Rim neighbors know about us. The president of Taiwan Semiconductor, Don Brooks, is sponsoring our investment seminar and I appreciate his leadership."

The governor promoted and signed the 1995 and 1996 manufacturing tax incentives program, which significantly improved the state's overall business climate and spurred new corporate investment in Washington. Between June 1995 and March 1996, companies have announced plans to invest more than $3 billion and generate more than 8,000 new jobs here. Other major projects include:

"These companies realize the benefits of locating and expanding in Washington," the governor said. "We will spread the word that our state is another great spot on the West Coast to do business."

The governor will convene the investment seminar in Taipei Oct. 15. The next day he will tour the Hsinchu Science Industrial Park, a model for high-technology business parks. Lowry then will travel to Kaohsiung, another Taiwanese port city, for an investment seminar there Oct. 17. He plans to meet with the Kaohsiung mayor and city council president to discuss trade issues.

From Kaohsiung, Lowry will travel to Kobe, Japan Oct. 18 where he and Gov. Kaihara will tour sites under construction by Washington businesses that are helping to rebuild the city following last year's earthquake. Washington also has a sister-state relationship with Hyogo, and Lowry hosted visitors from Hyogo earlier this year.

Lowry previously visited Taiwan, Japan, China, South Korea and the Philippines in November 1994.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.

Full schedule for the Asia trade and investment mission