Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weyerhaeuser Centennial Bridge Dedication Ceremony
May 28, 2003
Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here.
To our friends from Japan, welcome to Washington. It is a privilege to share this moment with you. We are honored by your presence here today.
And to our friends from Weyerhaeuser, congratulations on your lasting success. For more than a century, your contributions to this community, this region and our state have been profound. The next century will undoubtedly prove even more successful. Our state is proud to be known as the home of Weyerhaeuser. We look forward to enjoying that honor for many generations to come.
The bridge that we dedicate today is symbolic of many things. To me, it represents our state’s cultural, educational and scientific trade relationships with Japan, the countries of the Pacific Rim, and the rest of the world. As we dedicate this bridge, we also celebrate our longstanding and valued social and economic relationships.
It is important that we celebrate and honor these relationships. We are one of the most trade-oriented states in America. One out of every three jobs here is trade related. Our total exports equaled $35 billion last year. We are now the fourth largest exporter in the United States, up one spot from the year before. The only states ranked ahead of us are Texas, California and New York.
We have significant competitive advantages in international trade. We have outstanding deep-water ports, like Longview. We are one day closer to Asia than other West Coast ports.
And we have outstanding world-class companies like Weyerhaeuser. Washington businesses offer a wide variety of products and services valued in overseas markets. Our economy ranges from traditional industries like forest products, agriculture and aerospace to the entrepreneurial and growing sectors of biotechnology, software, telecommunications, environmental science and e-commerce.
We also understand the value of building strong bridges.
Last year, our trade missions to Japan, Korea, China and Singapore were very successful. Those missions helped our businesses sell products and services to some of the world’s most promising markets.
We returned from Japan and Korea with immediate new sales for Washington businesses. We also returned with opportunities.
In China we promoted Boeing airplane sales and Washington companies. On that same trip, we went to Singapore to promote Washington biotechnology companies. Washington companies will be playing a major role in the 2008 Olympic games, which will be held in Beijing and Singapore is interested in funding biotech companies in our state.
In these tough economic times, trade creates badly needed jobs. We will always pursue these golden opportunities to build bridges and create jobs.
We’ve seen that vital trade partnerships need in-person visits and meetings with our partners, face-to-face. Successful partnerships can only come about from the investments of time and effort, and genuine interest, in other countries.
A good bridge is not built overnight. Naturally, beneficial trade requires focus on relationships, not just transactions. Our trade partners overseas are more than just exporters and importers. They are our friends. We will continue to give these relationships – our friends – the attention and respect they deserve.
Japan is a great example. Japan is our leading export market, accounting for $4.4 billion last year. The Japanese buy our forest products as we observe today. They also buy our aircraft, our wheat, our frozen potato products, our coffee, and our software. And so much of what we take for granted in our daily lives are produced in Japan. Cars, cameras, TVs and other electronic devices. Heavy machinery.
But Japan is more than just a trading partner to us. We are blessed with a very large population of Japanese-Americans who make countless daily contributions to the very high quality of life in our state.
When Japanese people first arrived here, they struggled for both survival and acceptance. They did the hardest and most humble jobs. They worked as gardeners and laborers and builders. They helped build our railroads and fished the salmon off our coast. Today, our Japanese-American citizens are lawyers, engineers, software designers, artists, educators, and community and government leaders. And let’s not forget a couple of remarkable baseball players named Ichiro and Sasaki! Hasegawa
Our culture has been shaped and continues to be influenced by the art, architecture and culture of Japan. Our gardens, our cuisine, and our N.W. style of life have been more influenced by Japan than any other American state.
Our patterns of international trade and investment have been shaped by our friendship with Japan. The benefits are mutual for millions of people on both sides of the Pacific. We value and benefit from a number of sister-city relationships with Japanese cities including Longview – Wako and Seattle – Kobe, and our official state ties with Hyogo Prefecture.
The bridge of friendship between our state and Japan is as real as the bridge we will walk across today. Today we honor this friendship. And on behalf of the people of Washington, thank you to Weyerhaeuser and the community of Longview for successfully supporting and faithfully serving this friendship.