Sen. Judy Warnick, who chairs the Senate’s economic development-related committee, says a recent trade mission that took her, Rep. Tom Dent, and other local officials to Japan laid important groundwork for what she hopes will be improved trade relations and increased economic collaboration.
“Our legislative district is very attractive to companies in Japan,” stated Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “We offer inexpensive power, a strong skilled workforce and the willingness to be a strong international trade partner. Our agricultural industry is a cornerstone in that relationship with wheat and other crops grown in our district for export. I am committed to increasing those ties and looking for opportunities to support our growing economic cooperation. In terms of furthering the relationships that result in those opportunities, our mission was a success.”
The nine-day tour included meetings with Hideaki Ohmura, governor of Aichi Prefecture – a state with an economic and geographical makeup similar to Washington – plus numerous businesses around Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo. Rep. Dent and Sens. Warnick and Schoesler presented Governor Ohmura with a pair of cowboy boots as a gift.
Dent feels the collaborative mindset and positive attitudes on the trip was energizing and will be valuable moving forward.
“Our mission was to foster and strengthen relationships with the Japanese people, to share ideas and work together into the future. We were able to see many aspects of why their economy is thriving. At the same time, we were able to have a great dialogue about the benefits of doing business in the 13th Legislative District and Washington State. It is important they continue to look favorably upon us as a strong partner in key industry sectors such as aerospace and advanced manufacturing,” said Dent, R-Moses Lake.
The 13th District, which covers much of central Washington, is already home to a number of Japanese companies. The lawmakers were particularly glad to meet with the leaders of a parent company operating in Moses Lake that is interested in expansion efforts at the local port.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, who serves the neighboring 9th Legislative District viewed it as time very well spent.
“Seeing how the governor vetoed the legislation we passed to encourage manufacturing across the state, it’s clear that homegrown efforts like this are incredibly important for preserving rural jobs in the short term and attracting new investments for the long term,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville.
“There is nothing like meeting face-to-face when it comes to doing business, whether it’s in the next county or a continent away,” he added. “Our Japanese hosts were very gracious and receptive to our delegation, and I believe they were truly impressed with the amount of time and energy we were willing to devote to the tour.”
“I have done some international travel, but this trip was so inspiring,” said Warnick. “I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and the willingness of businesses to open their operations to us to demonstrate new technologies and manufacturing processes. It can only help enhance opportunities for increased partnerships in the 13th District and across Washington State.”
In addition to business discussions, the legislators were able to participate in broader cultural exchanges, visiting historic temples and treasured old-growth forests, and traveling by high-speed rail to view Japan’s diverse geography.
“One thing that sticks out from my travels across Japan is how clean everything was,” said Warnick. “The subway stations, large cities were free from litter and other sights you’d associate with large metropolitan areas. I was honored to spend time there learning, and look forward to a continued vibrant economic and cultural exchange.”
“The innovation and the factories were amazing, but as we toured these places and even the retail stores, you could sense the work ethic and the pride the young people took in their job. It was impressive to see how proud they were of what they were doing and where they worked. It was great to see,” Dent said.