MN Cos. Invited to Join South Korea Trade Mission

The Minnesota Trade Office is organizing a trade mission this fall to South Korea-one of Minnesota's fastest-growing export partners-and it is asking local companies to apply by August 12 to take part in the trip.

Governor Mark Dayton will lead a trade mission to South Korea this fall-and the Minnesota Trade Office is currently accepting applications from local businesses interested in joining the delegation.

South Korea has become an increasingly important trade partner for Minnesota during the past decade and is currently the state's sixth-largest export partner, up from ninth-largest last year and 14th-largest only 10 years ago. The state's top five export partners are Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, and Germany.

In 2010, Minnesota's exports to South Korea were valued at roughly $609.2 million, according to Katie Clark, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. That's up from about $234.6 million in 2000-representing a 158 percent increase. By contrast, the nation's exports to South Korea have grown 25.5 percent during the past decade.

Key export categories to the country from Minnesota during 2010 included machinery ($129 million); food ($87 million); chemicals ($63 million); miscellaneous, including medical ($59 million); textiles ($32 million); and fabricated metals ($15 million); among others. Optics, self-adhesive materials, machines for manufacturing semiconductors, and pork are among the leading products.

The state also receives a significant amount of products from South Korea. In 2010, Minnesota imported $190.3 million worth of products from the country, consisting primarily of computer and electronic products, machinery, fabricated metal products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, and transportation equipment.

The trade mission-which will take place from September 25 to October 1-will include a briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and meetings with industry leaders, government officials, and companies looking to invest in Minnesota operations.

Minnesota companies with business interests in South Korea or those that are considering opportunities in the market are encouraged to apply to join the delegation. The deadline for applications, which can be found here, is August 12.

Clark told Twin Cities Business that all of the state's companies and academic leaders are invited to apply. “We are looking for companies and organizations who have a good product match and the potential for export growth in the Korean market, to grow jobs here in Minnesota,” she said.

A report by the U.S. Department of Commerce identified the following areas as promising exports to South Korea for 2011: automotive parts and accessories; broadcasting programming and equipment; computer software; construction equipment; cosmetics; defense industry equipment; pharmaceuticals; education and training services; medical devices; renewable energy; and wireless broadband equipment and services; among others.

“The governor and his delegation of impressive Minnesota companies and academic institutions will attract great attention from high-level Korean industry leaders and government officials,” Clark told Twin Cities Business. “It can be challenging for a Minnesota company to attract this attention on their own, and the governor will be able to open doors to networking opportunities and new business connections for Minnesota companies on the trade mission.”

In addition to the events in South Korea, Dayton will also speak at the Midwest U.S.-Japan Conference, a major international economic development conference in Tokyo. Minnesota will sponsor the Midwest U.S.-Japan Conference in 2012, and it is customary for the host governor to welcome Japanese companies sometime during the year before it hosts. Other plans include meeting with Noriyuki Inoue, chairman and CEO of Osaka-based Daikin Industries, whose worldwide holdings include manufacturer McQuay International in Plymouth, according to Clark.