Idaho Gov. Butch Otter to depart on Asia trade mission

zkyle@idahostatesman.comApril 17, 2013 

With the legislative session behind him, Gov. Butch Otter’s attention will turn to pushing Idaho business overseas.

Otter leaves Friday for the eight-day trip to South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. He will be accompanied by representatives of 17 Idaho businesses and industries, as well as by Jeff Sayer, director of Department of Commerce, and Celia Gould, director of Department of Agriculture.

Mission members will visit with government officials and business leaders in a part of the world that has become a major market for Idaho exports.

While Canada topped the state’s 2012 export list at $1.3 billion, it was followed by Singapore ($965 million), China ($810 million), Taiwan ($755 million), South Korea ($572 million) and Japan ($302 million).

The trade mission targets countries where Idaho companies hope to maintain or forge partnerships, said Megan Ronk, Department of Commerce spokeswoman.

“We didn’t randomly establish where to go,” Ronk said. “Businesses give their input about key markets where there are strategic opportunities and where some support from the governor could make a difference.”

Idaho’s top exports include semiconductors, industrial equipment, precious and semi-precious metals, agricultural commodities and processed food, fertilizers, paper and forest products and personal care products.

Micron, Melaleuca, Boise Cascade and Idaho Forest Group are among the businesses represented. Representatives of the Idaho Potato Commission and Idaho Wheat Commission will also make the trip.

“Our role is setting up personalized, customized agendas for each company participating on mission,” Ronk said.

Otter led a mission to China last year that begat fresh partnerships for Idaho businesses.

One was BioTracking, a Moscow biotech company that landed a deal to send cow pregnancy tests to a Chinese dairy company.

“We would not be in China if not for the trade missions,” Garth Sasser, BioTracking founder, said in 2012.

Zach Kyle: 377-6464

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