Wyo. officials optimistic after Taiwan visit
ROCK SPRINGS — Wyoming and Taiwanese officials are excited about the future after both sides met at the state’s new trade office in Taiwan.
Wyoming-Taiwan trade representative Chester Chu told the Rocket-Miner in a conference call that Wyoming’s delegation made a good impression and government agents and residents are excited about the new office.
“So far, so good,” he said.
The delegation visited the country as part of a four-day mission funded by the Wyoming Business Council and the State Trade and Export Promotion program. Members included Gov. Matt Mead and representatives from agricultural companies Murraymere Farms, Gluten Free Harvest, True Ranches and Wyoming Malting Company.
STEP’s goal is to increase the number of small businesses exporting items and increase the value of those products, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
During the 2018 budget session, the Wyoming Legislature directed $400,000 from the general fund to the Wyoming Business Council for international marketing activities.
The WBC selected Chu to be the Taiwanese trade representative. Chu said he sees himself as a facilitator between the two entities.
He is tasked with establishing and building relationships between Asian buyers and distributors and Wyoming businesses, assisting Wyoming exporters traveling to Asia, and attending trade industry events. Chu will also educate Wyoming businesses on exporting to Taiwan and
identifying market demand that Wyoming can fill, a governor’s office press release states.
Under the contract, Chu is also expected to visit Wyoming a couple times a year “and become familiar with Wyoming companies and businesses,” Wyoming Business Council CEO Shawn Reese said.
Reese said the trip was successful.
“It was a nice occasion opening the office, but more importantly we saw the first signs of being able to match Wyoming companies with new markets in Taiwan and I expect that is only going to increase over time,” he said.
Reese added it was nice to see the reception they got from the Taiwanese government.
Mead said in a statement that he learned that people in Taiwan and the Asian Pacific region love Wyoming.
“They like the products that come from our state and admire Wyoming’s culture,” he said. “Opening a trade office there will provide Wyoming companies many opportunities to grow in international markets starting with Taiwan and expanding into other Asian counties.”
Mead was one of the delegates who made the trip. Others included Senate President Eli Bebout, R-Riverton; Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower; Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton; Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne; Reese; Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto; Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna; and WBC Business Development Assistant Director Brandon Marshall.
The recent trek marked Reese’s third visit to Taiwan. He said he is continually surprised at the opportunities that present themselves there.
Its involvement in growing the technology sector, the supply chain and its demonstration on how to use technology in anything from government to semiconductors “is just incredible,” he said.
Reese said he was frequently reminded of the importance of democracy to the country’s economy and to developing “these trade relationships with other governments.”
When asked about the increasing number of tariffs the United States and China are placing on each other, Chu said it could have a long-range effect, but so far things are OK between Taiwan and Wyoming.
The U.S. and China have been at odds over President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese goods, the Associated Press reported.
Reese said it is a good opportunity for Taiwan to go into business with Wyoming. He said the tariffs have created some uncertainty, but it’s also causing Taiwan to understand it needs to have deeper ties to the United States.
“I think it could have the benefit of increasing trade between the U.S. and Taiwan,” he said.
Reese said there is a long laundry list of things to follow-up on the diplomatic side as well as establishing potential partnerships with the University of Wyoming and perhaps the Integrated Test Center outside Gillette.
WBC Business Development and Communications Director Ron Gullberg said the state will explore agreements to enter collaborative initiatives, which could allow public-private partnerships.
“From the Wyoming point of view, the Integrated Test Center certainly fits that bill,” Gullberg said. “Taiwan is interested in clean coal technology as Wyoming. And, of course, Chester will facilitate networking for business-to-business opportunities. Along those lines, education exchange opportunities could be generated, and that could include not only university students, but University of Wyoming research opportunities.”
Reese said right now they will focus on agriculture and food and product industries, “and I think those industrial sectors will find other companies and producers who will want to participate.”
Down the road, there could be opportunities for the state’s outdoor manufactured goods sector as well.
“In terms of outdoor manufactured goods, I think the examples of GF Harvest and Wyoming Malting going on last week’s mission are ones we can follow with other industries such as outdoor recreation,” Gullberg said.
He said the state can identify manufacturers interested in the Taiwan market, and Chu can develop market profiles and industry contact lists while the state can facilitate meet and greets for trade missions.
“There are indications that there is an outdoor rec market in Taiwan tied to hiking and other activities related to their abundance of mountains, beaches, etc.,” Gullberg said. “So, again, market research is in order.”
Tentatively Chu is scheduled to visit the Cowboy State in January.
Reese said there is no planned return trip to Taiwan “at this point,” but there is interest in going back.