trade mission

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's upcoming trip to China to coax companies to expand in Michigan won't be cheap, but economic development officials say the money is well spent and producing results.

The governor's last investment mission to Asia cost $251,000 and a concurrent trade trip totaled $173,000. Expenses included flights, lodging, other travel, meals, gifts and receptions.

  Nearly $219,000 of the bill for Snyder's trip was covered with money Michigan receives from American Indian casinos' gambling profits.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder is headed to Europe this weekend. It’s the second trade mission he’s taken to Germany and Italy since taking office. He’s also taken three trade trips to Asia.

“I think everyone acknowledges the world is only becoming more global,” Snyder said.

Snyder says he’ll focus on the automotive and manufacturing industries during this weeklong trip.

Governor Snyder says a new survey shows his efforts to attract more international investment in Michigan is paying off.

The “insourcing” survey cites Michigan for adding more than 250,000 private sector jobs since 2010, and 32,000 from foreign investment in 2011 alone –more than twice as many as any other state.

The survey found that the heads of multinational firms are cautiously bullish about doing business in the U.S., but things could be better.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder is trying to convince business leaders in China to take more chances on Michigan.

Snyder's office says he met Friday with executives from the Chinese parent company of Menominee-based Enstrom Helicopters and government officials in Chongqing.

He says Michigan offers tremendous opportunities for companies outside the United States to make foreign investment and expand globally.

Snyder left Michigan Wednesday on the 10-day mission to China and Japan. It's his third trade trip to Asia.

Official portrait

Earlier today, Rick Snyder landed in China for his third trade trip since becoming Michigan's governor.

He has scheduled stops in China and Japan during the week-and-a-half-long mission that starts today, and he's accompanied by at least 15 representatives from Michigan companies.

It's all part of the on-going effort to attract Asian investment in Michigan and strengthen trade relationships.

Snyder isn't guaranteeing that jobs will be created from this trip, but says he feels good that new business will occur as a result of the face-to-face meetings.

The Governor is also turning to tourism, putting an emphasis on selling "Pure Michigan" as a destination to Chinese tourists.

The trip is being paid for by donations to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, not by taxpayers.

Tom Watkins has been instrumental in strengthening ties between Michigan and China, and has traveled to China dozens of times since his first trip in 1989. He joined us today to talk about this trade mission.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is planning to meet with government officials and business leaders during a two-day visit to Mexico.

Calley was expected to leave Sunday on the mission to strengthen trade relations and attract job-creating investments to Michigan.

He will meet Monday with Mexican government officials and visit the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Calley also will speak with Mexican-based auto supplier Rassini.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has confirmed plans that he will travel to Italy and Germany in March. The Detroit Free Press reports:

The plans are still being finalized -- another country or two may be added to the weeklong trip -- but Snyder said he definitely plans to visit Italian automaker Fiat, Chrysler's majority owner, and is eager to study Germany's programs for upgrading worker skills.

Snyder visited China, Japan and Korea in September for his first trade mission as Governor. He was there to encourage Asian companies to expand and invest in Michigan.

I'm on assignment in China following Governor Snyder's trade mission, and I'm sharing my thoughts as I travel. Feel free to write me back in the comments below.

Nearing the end - Friday, September 30

The Governor's trade mission is coming to an end, and so is my trip to China.

I won't miss the smog and pollution, either in Shanghai (bad) or Beijing (worse).

But it has truly been too short a trip to get more than a glimpse of everything that is happening with China's economy, its auto industry, and its cultural and population shifts.

Frank Langfitt in Shanghai and Louisa Lim in Beijing surely have two of the biggest, most exciting beats in public radio.  This fly-in reporter leaves the country in their incredibly capable hands.

Adventure travel

My adventures with taxis continued.

I am starting to take this a little personally.

Arriving back in Shanghai from Beijing, I got in the long queue to get a taxi to my downtown Pudong hotel.

I decided I'd be a discerning and demanding customer this time around.  I rejected several taxis that had no seat belt in the back.  But when I found a taxi that was suitably equipped, and showed the driver the address to which I wanted to be taken, he shook his head, and drove up to grab the fellow who was behind me in the line.

The next taxi cab driver whose cab had seat belts did the same thing.  I asked  the airport employee who was in charge of the queue to help, but he spoke no English.  Nor did the first ten or so people in line.

Paying it forward

Finally, however, an angel arrived at the queue.  Deserine Lim, fluent English-speaker and rescuer of helpless American travelers.  She looked at my hotel address and explained that the taxi drivers didn't want me because it was too close, and they wanted a bigger fare.  Ouch.

Then, without my even thinking to ask, she suggested I split a cab with her.  She'd drop me off at my hotel, and continue on to her destination.

I'm not a Tennessee Williams fan for nothing.  I, too, have always relied on the kindness of strangers.  I got in the cab gratefully.

My rescuer is a native of Singapore, she told me, visiting Shanghai just for a day on business.  But she knows the town well, and told me what shops to go to near my hotel, what restaurants to haunt.  We discussed American politics.

When we arrived at my hotel, I paid the fare, and since it was clear her favor to me was going to cost her, both in terms of time and money, I tried to give her some money to cover the extra distance.

She adamantly refused to take it.

So, I shall have to content myself with paying it forward some day.

Ms. Lim is Assistant General Manager of OSIM, a global provider of personal, health and convenience products headquartered in Singapore.  OSIM is a co-owner of Brookstone, a company that provides such products in the U.S.

Thanks, Deserine.  You're a peach.

Next stops before home

Next stop for me:  Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where I'll visit the Joint Institute between SJTU and the University of Michigan.

I also plan to go to a shopping mall with my SJTU interpreter, Paul (Kang Yiping) to ask people about transportation issues.

Then, another interview with a Ford China official, to learn more about the company's strategy to ride the next wave of demand for vehicles in the country.

And tomorrow morning, I'll be on a non-stop flight from Shanghai to Detroit.

They say the jet lag is a lot worse coming back.

Michigan Radio, don't call me.  I'll call you.

Arrived in Beijing - Wednesday, September 28:

I am in Beijing.

I arrived on the fourth consecutive day of a smog health advisory in the city.  Children are not supposed to play outdoors, and people with chronic health conditions are being urged to stay inside. Even if you are healthy, the smog is very irritating to your eyes and throat.

Michigan has never seemed cleaner. Even the worst Ozone Action Day in Michigan in August can't hold a candle to this.

Shanghai was windy while I was there earlier in the week. We need a good strong breeze to get this stuff out of the city, so people can breathe.

The Chinese government knows it has a potential crisis on its hands, as more people move into the cities, and more of them purchase cars.  That's why the government adopted a five year plan to vastly increase the number of electric cars in China.

The big problem with that is infrastructure.

Governor Rick Snyder said he will return to China in the next year, after completing his first trade mission in that country.

In the meantime, he said there’s a lot of follow-up to do in Michigan, to develop brand-new relationships with Chinese business leaders.

Governor Snyder spent a day in Beijing, the Chinese capital, and a day in Shanghai, the country’s international commerce center.

He said he was pleasantly surprised at how interested Chinese business leaders seem in closer business ties with Michigan. He said one possibility is getting Chinese mining companies, who want to expand overseas, to take a look at mining copper and other deposits in the U.P.

"It’s another export from our state, and the main thing is we do it in an environmentally conscious way and we put in the structure to do that," said Snyder.

Governor Snyder also highlighted his new “Global Michigan Initiative,” which he says should help create jobs in the state.

The initiative is designed to encourage talented immigrants to settle in Michigan.

The Global Michigan Initiative began two months ago.

While speaking in Shanghai, Snyder said the initiative will expand over the next few years to include cultural programs, more trade missions, and a visa program.

"There are a number of states that are unfortunately discouraging immigration, and I believe it should be the opposite, and the empirical support is there by encouraging immigration you actually create jobs for people in your community," said Snyder. " It’s a job creator."

The Governor is now on his way to South Korea, after a two-day stay in China.

This is Snyder’s first trade mission, and he says it was easier to make a pitch for the state’s positive business environment than he expected.

That’s because some of the Chinese business leaders he met with had already done some homework on Michigan.

"The most pleasant surprise was just the positive response of people in China and businesses in particular, that many of them are seriously looking at Michigan already as a good place to do business, and I was happy to see that they mentioned tax reform is a good reason for them to come, having a balanced budget is a major item," said Snyder.

The Governor will be in Seoul next, where he will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Governor of  Gyeonggi Province. The agreement states that Michigan and the Province will work together to establish trade.

Snyder will return to Michigan on Saturday.

Governor Snyder's office

Governor Rick Snyder has left Japan, and is now in China. Beijing is the second stop on his four-city Asian trade mission.

Snyder said the Tokyo visit was a welcome chance to show some support for Japan.

"Because they're still recovering from March 11thin terms of the tsunami and earthquake, and they're a great people, and they really appreciate the outpouring of support from Michigan after that happened," said Snyder.

Michigan already has about 500 Japanese companies doing business in the state.

Snyder said there are even more opportunities to increase trade with Japan. That's in part because some Japanese companies are considering an increase in overseas production after the tsunami.

Snyder goes to Shanghai next, then Seoul, before returning to Michigan on Saturday.

Governor Snyder's office

On his trade mission to Asia, Governor Snyder praised a business partnership between a Japanese company and the Michigan Molecular Institute (MMI).

The partnership between Japan's ECO Research Institute (ERI) and MMI is expected to bring around 30 new jobs to Midland.

Snyder made his comments at the Japan Midwest U.S. Annual Conference today praising the partnership "as an example of the economic and technological benefits that Michigan and Japan stand to gain through greater cooperation."

The two companies will form a new company called ECO Bio Plastics Midland Inc. The new company will produce bio-plastic pellets made of compound  mixes of plastics and micron-sized dry powder made from shredded paper.

These pellets will be used as packaging materials, food service products, heat insulation applications, and toys.

The Midland Daily News quoted James Plonka, president and CEO of Michigan Molecular Institute:

Plonka noted EBP has chosen a site for the new Midland facility, with the expectation to break ground before November and to begin production next summer.

“Midland is a good location for the demonstration facility for a couple reasons,” Plonka said. “First, because of the paper shredding services provided by the Arnold Center, Midland, is an excellent source of paper feedstock. And secondly, some of the most innovative plastics research in the world occurs in Midland. It’s a natural fit.

The plan calls for the initial paper-plastic composite production facility to produce 10 million pounds per year, with the ability to grow to 100 million pounds per year, Plonka said.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has told a Tokyo audience of Midwestern and Japanese business and political leaders that Michigan is "a very different place" than it was when he
took office in January.

A statement released Monday by Snyder's office says the Republican governor told the annual meeting of the Japan Midwest U.S. Association that legislative and policy changes should "open new doors for trade" between Michigan and Japan. Changes cited by Snyder include repealing the Michigan Business Tax and adopting a two-year balanced budget.

Snyder's eight-day, three country trade mission that began Sunday includes stops in Japan, China and South Korea.

The international trade trip is Snyder's first as governor. The former Gateway computer executive and venture capitalist took office Jan. 1.

(Springfield, IL)  Governor Rick Snyder is in Asia on a trade mission to China, Korea and Japan.  He’s not the only Midwestern governor there.  The governors of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana's Lt. Governor are also taking trade delegations to Asia. 

The four Midwestern governors will be meeting  in Japan with Japanese and other Asian political and business leaders.   They’re working to kick start trade with Asian countries.  China is particularly important because it’s one of the few nations where the economy is growing.

Charlie Wheeler was a long time statehouse reporter in Illinois.   He says  the chief executive officer of a state can carry symbolic weight in trade negotiations.

“And I think it makes a lot of sense for the Governor of Illinois, of Michigan and any other Midwestern state, any state in the union for that matter, to try and open up more markets in China, to establish the kind of personal relationships that in the business world often help to carry out these negotiations.”

The governor of North Carolina will be  next in the parade of U.S. governors touring Asia. She leaves for a trade mission there next month.

Trey Ratcliff / Flickr

Tomorrow, Governor Rick Snyder heads off to Asia with a delegation of Michigan political leaders and business officials on a trade mission.

He'll spend a week traveling to Japan, China, and South Korea.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton will travel with the Governor and report on the stops in Shanghai and and Beijing.

Samilton reported on Governor Snyder's goals for the trip:

The ultimate goal is creating more jobs in the state.  But the Governor has been careful to downplay expectations of new jobs right away. 

 "In terms of specific deals to be announced," Snyder says, "I don’t have high expectations there.  This is more about starting the relationships and then looking six months, a year out, after subsequent meetings and followup and discussions, will there be actual investment or will there be more exports.

So, how much?

We asked our Facebook fans what they wanted to know about Snyder's trade mission.

Many were curious to know how much is being spent on the trip. 

Samilton put this question to Michael Shore at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Here's his response:

  • The trade mission costs will come either from contributions to the Michigan Economic Development foundation, a non-profit that supports economic development in Michigan through corporate contributions, or from MEDC corporate revenues, which derive from sources other than the state general fund. No taxpayer dollars are being spent for those traveling on behalf of the State of Michigan.

MEDC officials followed up that e-mail with this:

  • Local officials and other non-state of Michigan people going on the trip are responsible for paying their own way. The cost of the trip will be disclosed after the trade mission.

So the cost is to be determined, but they wanted to make clear that "no taxpayer dollars [will be] used to fund the State of Michigan official delegation, which includes the Governor."

Other trade trips by Michigan Governors

The last Michigan Governor to visit China was former-Governor John Engler.

Former Governor Jennifer Granholm never made a trip to the country, though she did take many trade trips, according to Crain's Detroit Business:

...Jennifer Granholm was active in going abroad and led 13 overseas trade missions to 10 countries, including Japan and South Korea.

Governor Rick Snyder begins his first trade mission this weekend.  

The governor’s whirlwind schedule includes two days in Tokyo, one day in Beijing, one day in Shanghai, and one day in Seoul – not including two days of travel. 

The ultimate goal is creating more jobs in the state.  But the Governor has been careful to downplay expectations of new jobs right away. 

Governor Snyder will travel on his first trade mission later this month.  The Governor will travel to Japan, China, and Korea, to encourage Asian companies to invest and expand in Michigan. 

Snyder says the China part of his trip in particular is long overdue. 

Snyder will be the first Michigan governor to go to China since the Engler administration.

He says Chinese companies may not be aware that a lot has changed for the good in the state since then, like the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax, and a new approach to regulation.