Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber returned from a trip to Asia this weekend where he met with business leaders to promote Oregon products and innovation and attract new investments to the state.

Kitzhaber visited China, South Korea and Japan. The trip began on Sept. 11 when the governor left for Tokyo and ended last Friday when he boarded a plane in Shanghai, China, where he had met with several Oregon companies, including Nike executives.

“I am committed to doing everything I can to get more Oregonians back to work, boost our per capita income and make sure that every corner of our state is on a solid path to prosperity,” the governor stated in a press release. “With Oregonians still struggling, this is exactly the right time for us to be actively marketing Oregon products and innovation around the world.”

Kitzhaber signed a memorandum of understanding on Sept. 15 in Seoul, South Korea, which states that Oregon and the Korea International Trade Association will communicate and share information on goods and services available for export. Among other things, the governor said this memorandum of understanding would have positive impact on agriculture, which is one of Oregon’s largest business sectors.

“This has been a great opportunity to connect with businesses that are on the ground here in Shanghai and let them know about the Oregon goods and services that are available,” Kitzhaber said. “This trip has helped us solidify existing business relationships and set the stage for new ones we will now be able to build.”

Randy Swangard, assistant dean at the Lundquist College of Business, said there are many opportunities for Oregon businesses in Asia.

“Where once there were strictly factories supplying foreign markets are now modern urban communities with populations seeking Western products and brands. It is, however, a very complicated business environment where history, culture and tradition and faith are a preeminent part of the process,” Swangard said. “For that reason and many more, being on the ground and engaged in Asia is a critical part of understanding the true opportunities.”

Swangard, who also serves as the interim managing director for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, has led the Engaging Asia Business Study Tour for the past four years. More than 250 students and faculty have toured Asia since 2005 to explore business opportunities. In addition, the Lundquist College of Business recently completed a tour of Asia, which allowed 43 master’s students and faculty members becoming more acquainted with the Asian businesses and their rapidly changing economy.

“Across every category, Oregon businesses will find opportunity in Asia — from high-tech to agriculture to manufacturing to services,” Swangard said. “Asia is an emerging dominant player in the world’s economy.”

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