Jindal plans trade trip to Asia

Gov. Bobby Jindal

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal will travel to Asia for a week-long trip seeking to cultivate business development and trade connections in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
The Republican governor announced the plans Wednesday, saying he and Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret will meet with representatives of 10 companies, along with senior government officials and others to discuss expanding economic ties between Louisiana and the countries.
“We want to go there to personally communicate that my administration stands ready to assist the development of their respective projects in Louisiana and that these companies should consider our state as a strong partner in their prospective operations in Louisiana,” Jindal told the Baton Rouge Press Club.
The group — which will include Jindal’s communications director, two of Moret’s top deputies and the governor’s state police security detail — leaves Saturday. This is the governor’s first overseas economic development mission during his six years in office.
On the list for meetings are corporate executives in the energy, chemical and manufacturing industries. Jindal said that includes companies already doing business in Louisiana, like Formosa and Shintech, and companies that the state is actively recruiting for projects in the state.
He wouldn’t name the specific businesses or projects he was trying to woo, but Moret said most of the projects under discussion involve manufacturing. Jindal said he expects to make additional overseas economic development trips in the coming months.
Considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, Jindal said the trip doesn’t have anything to do with boosting his international relations experience after years of limiting his travel to the U.S.
“Louisiana’s got a great opportunity to attract investment, to attract jobs. The reality is we’ve been planning this for several months. I’ve been invited dozens of times by different senior executives and government officials,” he said.
The governor said the state wants to build on its attraction of more than $26 billion in investment from foreign companies in Louisiana projects since he’s taken office in 2008.
“We’re actively being considered for several projects of global companies based in those countries that could result in billions of dollars of new investment and thousands of new jobs in our state,” he said.
Jindal said countries like Japan and South Korea are expected to be among the largest drivers of foreign investment in the United States in the next few years. He said corporate executives in Asian nations place great value on developing personal relationships with government leaders when choosing investment sites.
“With a global economic recovery finally underway, the number of foreign direct investment opportunities is likely to substantially increase,” Jindal said. “We want Louisiana to be a leader in that trend of increased investment in the United States.”
On other topics, the governor:
—Announced that his top priority for the legislative session that begins in March would involve workforce investment and training initiatives. He wouldn’t provide any details of the budget recommendations or specific policy ideas he will present to lawmakers, saying his spending plans will be unveiled within two weeks.
—Refused to say whether he continues to support the state’s use of Common Core educational standards, a more rigorous set of benchmarks adopted by most states of what students should learn in English and math. Some lawmakers are seeking to prohibit the state’s use of the standards. “This is a conversation that we need to continue to have,” Jindal said.
—Said he will oppose legislative efforts to set a state minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage.

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