Oregon and Japan, Trading Partners
(Business America, April 15, 1985)
By Richard H. Carson
With over 30 years of private industry experience in international trade and staff proficiency in 15 languages, the Oregon Economic Development Department is regarded by many observers as the most professional state development team in the western United States. In 1981, the Department joined the ranks of only a handful of state organizations to receive the coveted "President's 'E' Award for Export Service."
The rapid growth of international trade with the Far East has been a major factor in producing the high rate of economic expansion enjoyed in Oregon during the last decade. In 1983, Oregon showed a trade balance surplus of $854 million out of a total state trade volume of $6.5 billion.
Japan is Oregon's major trading partner, accounting for 51 percent of the state's total international trade. This relationship has recently taken on new importance as Japan has increasingly targeted Oregon for high-tech manufacturing investments.
In 1984, Oregon saw an unprecedented influx of major high-tech companies. NEC America's entry into the Portland metropolitan area was followed by such other major Japanese companies as Fujitsu America, Fujitsu Microelectronics, and Epson America. The German firm of Wacker Siltronics announced a major expansion of its existing facilities. Two U.S. high technology giants, Intel and National Semiconductor, also announced major new investments.
By year's end the short-term announced investments totaled almost $600 million and over 4,000 in new direct employment. The long-term expansion plans by these companies are estimated at $1 .75 billion and over 17,000 in direct employment by the 1990s. The estimated new primary and secondary job total is over 45,000.
The Oregon high-tech story was carried nationally by the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek, Business Week, Washington Post, the New York Times, and USA Today.
This was a tremendous vote of confidence in Oregon as the place to do business; it was the result of years of work in the international trade arena. This is a direct result of Oregon's ongoing trade missions into Japan that are used to promote Oregon products and the state's in-vestment potential. The Department also maintains an office in Tokyo to develop and maintain business contacts.
This Japanese awareness of Oregon as a place to do business was partly responsible for Oregon's winning the 1984 reverse investment sweepstakes. Other factors were the state's home-grown high technology industrial base and some legislative sensitivity to the Japanese aversion to a worldwide" unitary method of corporate reporting.
Richard H. Carson is Manager, Industrial Properties, Oregon Economic Development Department.