AEDC officials to make trade trip to Germany, Hutchinson headed to England in July

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 203 views 

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission will be sending three top staff members to the international Hannover Messe trade show in Germany on April 25-29, where President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to kick off the world’s largest industrial technology trade fair by highlighting the two countries long-held manufacturing sector ties, Talk Business & Politics learned today (April 14).

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will follow up that European trip in early July when he will lead a state delegation to the Farnborough International Airshow in England, the fourth such trade mission in the governor’s short tenure.

According to AEDC spokesman Scott Hardin, neither Hutchinson nor AEDC Director Mike Preston will make the trip to the industrial trade show in Germany. Hutchinson is currently actively involved in the ongoing biennial fiscal session at the state Capitol, which could last for several weeks.

Danny Games, AEDC’s executive vice president of global business, will be the top state official making the trip to Germany where AEDC will have an exhibit at the USA Investment Pavilion, Hardin said. Lenka Horakova, director of business development for Europe, and Ben France, senior project manager for business development, are also part of the three-person AEDC trade delegation.

“We don’t have any Arkansas companies attending this show as part of our delegation,” Hardin said. The trip will be paid for through AEDC’s International Division budget with a few items also being paid for through the Arkansas Economic Development Foundation, he said.

AEDC’s booth at the trade show will be held at a large convention hall where co-exhibitors from economic departments from at least 30 U.S. states will attend, including neighboring job recruiters from Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana and Texas. Some states, such as Ohio, are bringing more than 100 governmental and business officials to this year’s event in Germany.

The international trade show in Hannover, Germany, is billed as the largest industrial technology trade fair in the world, where more than 5,000 companies from 70 countries are expected to be exhibitors. The show is also expected to draw thousands of attendees.

According to U.S. Commerce Department officials, President Obama will lead the largest-ever U.S. delegation to this year’s show. Obama’s visit will mark the first appearance by an American president and coincide with the United States’ debut as a partner country.

The U.S. delegation will include U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzer, and will feature more than 400 companies, economic development organizations, and research institutions. Hannover Messe will be a milestone in the two country’s transatlantic trade relations and highlight the administration’s commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Germany economic partnership, Commerce Department officials said.

“The United States is home to the most innovative and forward thinking companies in the world. But in today’s global economy, it is not enough to simply be the best – we must also let the world know that America is open for business,” said Secretary Pritzker in a news release. “Hannover Messe is a unique opportunity for American companies to showcase their products and capabilities to thousands of global advanced manufacturing representatives.”

At the opening ceremony of Hannover Messe 2016 on Sunday, April 24, President Obama will join German Chancellor Angela Merkel where he is expected to play up the U.S. manufacturing industry’s strong bonds to Germany as vital partners in many geopolitical priorities. The president is also scheduled for the traditional opening tour of the fair with Merkel on Monday morning, April 25.

“President Obama’s participation sends a special signal about Hannover Messe’s international appeal,” said Dr. Jochen Köckler, member of the managing board at Deutsche Messe AG. “And the timing is perfect: in the midst of its reindustrialization the United States has become a very attractive business partner for industry. For German machinery and plant manufacturers, the USA is once again the number one market.”

Besides the president’s visit, the Department of Commerce will also host the U.S. Investment Pavilion, a centerpiece of the fair and host to state and local economic development organization exhibitors, including AEDC. Roughly 250 companies from the U.S. are also expected to attend this year’s event, along with several companies such as Dassault Falcon Jet and Lockheed Martin that have major operations in the state.

Later in the summer following the fiscal session, Gov. Hutchinson will be making his first trade of 2016 when he takes a state delegation to Farnborough International Airshow in England. That weeklong international trade show from July 11-17 in Hampshire, England combines a major trade exhibition for the aerospace and defense industries with a public airshow.

“Governor Hutchinson will attend and AEDC will have a booth at the show,” Hardin confirmed.

Farnborough is also an important event in the international aerospace and defense industry calendar, providing an opportunity to demonstrate civilian and military aircraft to potential customers and investors. The show is also used for the announcement of new developments and orders, and to attract major international media coverage.

Gov. Mike Beebe was the last Arkansas governor to attend the Farnborough Air Show in 2014. That trip to England was part of Beebe’s last international trade mission to several European countries near the end of his tenure as the state’s chief executive.

This will be Hutchinson’s fourth international trip in his tenure as governor. In 2015, Hutchinson made trade visits to Cuba, Europe, and the Far East, where he has been able to lay the ground for future foreign investments.

Before he left for his Far East visit to Japan and China in late 2015, Hutchinson said his primary goal in making these trips was to encourage government leaders and businesses in these countries to consider future capital ventures and investments in Arkansas.

“It is important for the governor of Arkansas to market the state, and to bring opportunity,” Hutchinson said at the annual meeting of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas held at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. “I will be able to knock on their door.”

During his last trip to China in November 2015, Hutchinson and Preston signed a “letter of intent on investment cooperation” with Chinese-based Shandong Sun Paper Industry Joint Stock Co. to pursue a $1.3 billion pulp mill to be located in south Arkansas.

The letter of intent sets a May 1, 2016 date to finalize a site for the project, which would create “hundreds of direct jobs” and result in “very significant” indirect jobs in the logging and timber industry in south Arkansas. The agreement states that pre-engineering would begin after May 1 as well as environmental permit activity and an intermodal railroad facility study.