Hogan, state officials to travel to Asia on trade mission

Bryan P. Sears//May 21, 2015

Hogan, state officials to travel to Asia on trade mission

By Bryan P. Sears

//May 21, 2015

A composed satellite photograph of Asia in orthographic projection.(NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
A composed satellite photograph of Asia in orthographic projection.
(NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

Gov. Larry Hogan will lead a delegation of state economic development officials and business leaders on a 12-day trade mission to three countries in Asia.

Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Michael Gill and Deputy Secretary Ben Wu also will be on the trip, which will include visits to China, South Korea and Japan and is designed to showcase the state and strengthen ties with countries that account for about $1.5 billion in annual exports from the state.

“We have a significant presence in all three countries,” said Wu, noting a growing Korean population in the state and 40 Japanese companies that do business in the state.

Hogan and approximately 10 state employees will make the trip, which is projected to cost about $140,000. The cost is comparable to other recent trips taken by previous Maryland governors, Wu said.

Business executives accompanying the delegation will pay their own way, Wu said.

The delegation totals 36 people, including state employees, business leaders and members of the University System of Maryland.

The trip, which begins on May 26, is expected to last 12 days and begins with a two-day stop in Beijing. The governor will then spend two working days in Seoul and another two working days in Tokyo.

“This is exciting for Maryland, exciting for the governor and exciting for economic development in Maryland,” said Gill.

“It’s a big deal,” Gill said. “These are three of the most important nations in the world for us.”

Wu said the governor will attend 40 scheduled events and meetings during the trip, including meetings with heads of state and private companies.

Hogan’s wife Yumi, who is Korean, is accompanying the governor on the trip.

Wu said the governor views his wife, who is the first Korean-American first lady of any state, as “an asset to be able to help draw attention to Maryland.”

Hogan and his wife are expected to visit with family during a portion of the South Korean leg of the trip, Wu said.

Hogan announced the trade mission in early April and said at the time that it could include meetings with Asiana Airlines and Korea Air regarding adding service to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The governor is also expected to be given a ride on a maglev train in Japan by Japanese government officials, according to a report by Asian Review.

Wu confirmed that the governor will take a ride on the test line during a visit to southern Japan.

This is not the first trip taken by Maryland officials to the region.

In 2011, then-Gov. Martin J. O’Malley visited China, Korea and Vietnam. He declared the 10-day trip a success and estimated the visit resulted in $85 million in drug, manufacturing and construction deals. The state spent about $145,000 not including expenses for officials from the University System of Maryland. The expense drew fire from Republican legislators in the General Assembly who were upset over costs that exceeded original estimates.

Former Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown also visited the region in O’Malley’s first term.

Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. took a similar trip to Asia in 2004 at a cost of $219,000.

The trip comes at the same time that Congress is debating whether to grant President Barack Obama wider authority to negotiate a trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with 11 Pacific Rim nations.

A February report released by the International Trade Administration projects that such an agreement could benefit Maryland by eliminating high tariffs on exports.

Total exports from Maryland to those markets totaled $3.6 billion on average annually between 2012 and 2014 — an increase of about 9 percent during that period, according to the report. Exports to the 11 Pacific Rim countries, including health products, chemicals and high-tech equipment, accounted for 30 percent of all exports from the state.


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