Growing Nebraska Through International Trade
By Governor Pete Ricketts
February 8, 2022
Governor’s Official Photo here.
Don’t let Nebraska’s location in the middle of America fool you. Our state touches every corner of the globe with the crops we grow, the livestock we raise and the products we make. Each year, Nebraska exports about $10 billion of goods and services around the world. More than 95% of consumers live outside our borders. To grow Nebraska, we must continue to proactively reach out to international partners and share all that Good Life has to offer.
From August 20 to 28, I am leading a trade mission to the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. Now is an opportune time to engage these business partners. The United Kingdom is reworking its trade policy after officially leaving the European Union in 2020. As trade talks between the United States and the United Kingdom stalled under the Biden administration, the United Kingdom is focused on building ties with individual US states. Over the past month, I have met with UK Ambassador Karen Pierce in Washington, DC and hosted UK Consul General Alan Gogbashian to discuss ways to strengthen our trade relationship. Meanwhile, the Irish economy is booming, with GDP growing over 15% in 2021. Building on this success, Irish businesses are looking to invest.
In the UK and Ireland, we will seek to create opportunities for Nebraska agriculture, particularly to sell beef, ethanol and distillers grain. These countries are a natural candidate for stronger partnerships with our State:
- Nebraska is already the number one supplier of US beef to Europe, and we see the potential to add even more customers.
- Last year, the UK increased its ethanol blending requirement for all gasoline from 5% to 10%, increasing the country’s need for biofuels.
- Pork producers in Ireland have started to use distillers grain as their primary feed source, creating a prime market for this ethanol by-product.
During the trade mission, we will promote the great success of European bioscience companies such as Corbion (Dutch), Evonik (German) and Novozymes (Danish) in Nebraska. These companies have shown how to turn scientific breakthroughs into marketable products. Our abundant natural resources, agricultural expertise and centralized location in the United States give us a competitive advantage when recruiting for these biotechnology companies.
We will also promote Nebraska’s national insurance leadership, particularly in the UK, which has the largest insurance industry in Europe. US states look to Nebraska for guidance when developing regulatory frameworks for insurance. Insurers have been drawn to our state by our reputation for fair, consistent and open regulation.
This session, the Nebraska Department of Insurance (NDOI) is supporting LB 863. This legislation will make it even more attractive for insurance companies to do business here. As it stands, Nebraska insurers doing business in Europe may be subject to dual regulation, both from our state and from the European Union or the United Kingdom. The NDOI-backed bill would allow insurance companies to be covered by a single regulatory system, making it easier for them to serve customers.
Trade missions are also a great way to thank international companies investing in Nebraska. Companies in the UK and Ireland employ more than 6,000 Nebraskans in more than 20 cities. GSK, which has its central location on the London Underground, manufactures consumer healthcare products in a factory just east of our capital, Lincoln. Aon, an insurance company incorporated in Ireland and based in London, has offices in Nebraska in Lincoln and Omaha. Trane Technologies, parent company of Thermo King in Hastings, has its global headquarters in the suburbs of Dublin, Ireland.
Nebraska-based companies have successfully grown by launching sites in Europe. Hudl at Lincoln has expanded into the UK to meet growing demand for its sports performance analysis. The company has offices in London and Leeds and has become the go-to resource for English football clubs. HDR, headquartered in Omaha, has five sites across the UK and provides engineering consultancy for construction projects across the country. The relationships we build on trade missions can help open more foreign markets for our state’s businesses.
As governor, I led numerous trade missions to help expand Nebraska’s international trade. I have been to Japan three times, Mexico twice, Germany twice, China twice, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Canada. We have seen great success from these missions. Just before the pandemic, a Vietnamese trade delegation came to Lincoln as a follow-up to our 2019 trade mission to Hanoi. During the visit, they pledged to buy $3 billion worth of Nebraska beef, corn, distillers grain, soybeans and wheat. During the last marketing season, Vietnam increased its purchases of American soybeans by 91%. Our 2019 trade mission to Germany helped Lindsay Corporation secure a deal to deploy its Road Zipper systems on German highways.
We have also seen continued investment from international companies over the past year. In July, Kawasaki (Japan) announced a $200 million expansion to create 550 additional jobs at Lincoln to increase manufacturing capacity for ATVs, jet skis and other vehicles. In August, Novozymes (Denmark) announced a $300 million investment in Blair to increase production in Nebraska. In September, Monolith Materials unveiled plans to build a major carbon-free ammonia plant south of Lincoln with major investments from Mitsubishi (Japan) and SK (South Korea).
I invite the leaders of Nebraska to join me on the next trade mission. Our farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs are Nebraska’s most effective business ambassadors. They tell the story of our state better than anyone. To apply for the trade mission, contact Cobus Block at [email protected] Space is limited, so contact us now. If you have any questions about our work to build Nebraska through trade, please email [email protected] or call 402-471-2244. I look forward to hearing from you.