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Walker Checks In From Trade Mission Abroad

Kikkoman, Komatsu And Foxconn Highlighted During Walker's Trade Mission To Japan And South Korea

governor walker
Morry Gash/AP Photo

Gov. Scott Walker is part of a contingent of five Midwestern governors visiting Japan and South Korea this week. According to press release from Walker’s office, the eight-day trade mission is aimed at boosting Wisconsin exports.

Other governors on the trip include: Rick Snyder of Michigan, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, and Bruce Rauner of Illinois.

The group belongs to the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association. In Japan, Walker said he met with executives from Japanese soy sauce maker Kikkoman, which has long had a Wisconsin presence, and Komatsu, a Japanese corporation that manufactures construction, mining and military equipment. Komatsu recently bought Wisconsin’s Joy Global, a manufacturing company located in Milwaukee.

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Walker also met with executives from Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that is expected to build a large electronics plant in southeastern Wisconsin. In addition to speaking with Foxconn executives, he spent time talking with executives from companies interested in being suppliers to the plant.

“Many of the participants were very interested in how they could come to Wisconsin and partner for that new ecosystem,” Walker said.

Thirteen executives from Wisconsin companies are accompanying Walker on the trade mission. Walker said some of them have made sales on the trip, which ends this weekend.

“We had three very productive days in Japan as we spoke with dozens of business leaders about the opportunities to invest in Wisconsin and laid the groundwork for potential future partnerships, and I look forward to doing the same in South Korea,” Walker said in a press release. “Our visit to South Korea will help raise awareness about Wisconsin as a destination for foreign direct investment. We will meet with political leaders, industry associations, and business leaders to discuss opportunities for Korean businesses in Wisconsin and ways that Wisconsin businesses can partner with Korean companies.”

Speaking from Seoul on Wednesday, Walker said while the trip was centered on business development and trade, conversations regarding nuclear tensions with North Korea did come up.

“I reiterated a number of times in my public comments as well as in our meeting with the (Japanese) Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe, our support for our allies and our determination, particularly in light of the United Nations Security Council resolution and action on sanctions,” said Walker. He went on to say that people in both nations view North Korea as an “existential threat.”

The fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal was also of concern, Walker said. President Donald Trump opposes the deal which, on the campaign trail last year, he called a “job-killing trade deal.” The United States has a separate trade deal with South Korea which took effect in 2012.

Walker said he was in touch with the White House last week advocating to keep free trade with Asian countries. He said it was especially important for states like Wisconsin for manufacturing and agricultural products like dairy.

“We have a definite surplus in the country. It’s very much driven by states like Wisconsin so we want to have free trade with South Korea and we understand the agreement can always be improved but we want to make sure it’s not removed entirely.”

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