March 31, 2023

AAP staff report

St. Paul, Minn. (April 2, 2010) Governor Tim Pawlenty announced last week that he would lead a trade mission to China and Japan this fall to help Minnesota companies increase exports, build strategic relationships, and explore new business opportunities.The mission takes place September 9-18 and includes stops in Shanghai and Beijing, China and Tokyo and Osaka, Japan for meetings with business leaders and government officials, presentations by market and industry leaders, networking activities and business site visits. The delegation will also travel to Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province.  Minnesota has had a sister-state agreement with Shaanxi Province since 1982.

The economies of Japan and China rank second and third, respectively, behind the United States as the largest national economies in the world.

“China and Japan have dynamic economies that provide significant opportunities for Minnesota businesses interested in increasing their exports,” Governor Pawlenty said. “We’re looking forward to building on the relationships established through the Minnesota-China Partnership and making new connections in Japan.”

The Minnesota-China Partnership, announced by Governor Pawlenty in 2005, engages public and private organizations throughout the state to promote trade and investment, science and academia, arts and culture, and friendship and humanitarian endeavors.

“China and Japan are important marketplaces for Minnesota companies,” said Ed Dieter, Minnesota Trade Office acting director.  “Japan has long offered excellent markets for Minnesota products, and any company doing business internationally should consider China’s tremendous and continuing growth.”

China buys more Minnesota manufactured goods than any country after Canada, importing more than $1 billion of Minnesota products every year since 2005. Top exports to China include machinery, including electrical machinery, medical instruments and plastics.

Warren Vollmar, president, U.S. / China Business Connections, said Pawlenty’s first trade mission to China in 2005 a very successful one in stimulating business between China and Minnesota. He said that it is time for another effort since it has been five years since Pawlenty’s first China delegation, and eight years since Governor Ventura’s delegation in 2002.

“We believe the trade mission to China and Japan is critical to furthering business relations and are very excited to know it will take place soon,” said Vollmar. “Both of these countries place a great deal of emphasis on building personal relationships as a prelude to business relationships, and face-to-face meetings are essential.

Vollmar said there are many opportunities for Minnesota companies and entrepreneurs to work with China and Japan ranging from every area of the environment to alternative power, all areas of infrastructure, agriculture, forestry and more.

“And there are many things we can learn from them,” he added. “This trip will impact employment, exports, company sales.  It is a great opportunity.”

UCBC (, is an organization designed to assist Minnesotan firms to learn more about to business in China.

“I know it will be a very good trip for Minnesota Exporters,” said Jim Smith, UCBC Director. “The result of the first trip was a major increase in business for the State of Minnesota. The Minnesota Trade Office has some very positive information on the value of the first trip.

Japan also offers a wide variety of opportunities. Minnesota’s most important exports to Japan include medical instruments, electrical and other machinery, food, grain and other agricultural commodities.

“This is really great news for Minnesota in building an abiding and significant relationship with China and Japan,” said Ben van Lierop, executive director, Japan America Society of Minnesota ( “As you know, face-to-face meetings are very important in Asian cultures, and especially in Japan.

There may be many reasons for Gov. Pawlenty to take this trip at this time, and van Lierop said the U.S. – Japan alliance is a key governmental relationship for peace and stability in the East Asian region.

“Visiting with government and community leaders in Japan will bring awareness of key concerns of the Japanese people to Minnesota, and the people of Japan will also understand more about what concerns people in Minnesota,” van Lierop added. “This is very positive development for Minnesota in its relationship building with both China and Japan.”

In the fourth quarter of 2009, Minnesota exports increased to four of our state’s top ten trading markets, including China ($363 million, up 19 percent) and  Japan ($226 million, up 6 percent). Korea ($129 million, up 20 percent) and Australia ($112 million, up 31 percent) were the other two markets in the top ten that showed an increase.

The trade mission is being coordinated by the Minnesota Trade Office. Those interested in applying to join the trade delegation should contact Li King Feng, 651-259-7484 or [email protected], or Jennifer Kocs, 651-259-7488 or [email protected].

MTO is focused on increasing state export sales in foreign markets.  MTO promotes international trade by providing export information, export education and training, and counseling to Minnesota companies that wish to sell goods and services in the international marketplace.  More information is online at

Governor Pawlenty has led previous trade missions to Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, India, Israel and Poland. Delegation members pay their own expenses. Expenses incurred by the Governor’s office for this trade mission will be paid from trade mission participant funds, not taxpayer funds.

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