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June 14, 2005 :: Business and Education Mission to Taiwan and Vietnam Expected To Foster Strategic Partnerships

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Oklahoma state officials, university representatives and business professionals have begun a business and education mission to Taiwan and Vietnam that is expected to result in improved business relationships.

A seventeen-member delegation, led by Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Kathy Taylor and Oklahoma Chancellor for Higher Education Paul Risser, departed last weekend to travel to Taiwan and Vietnam, promoting Oklahoma’s globally competitive capabilities, and in turn, learn from Taiwanese and Vietnamese officials and corporations. Oklahomans will be able to follow the progress of the trip through the new I Believe in Oklahoma weblog.

Taiwan and Vietnam, both of whom have long been economic partners with Oklahoma, have distinct qualities that are of much interest to businesses within the Sooner State, said Oklahoma Department of Commerce Director of Global Business Services Barry Clark.

“That’s why this trip was undertaken,” Clark said. “They have something we can learn from, and we feel we have knowledge and expertise to offer them as well.”

Oklahoma and Taiwan Can Build On Mutual Strengths
Taiwan, which has a population of 22 million people, has developed a system of education-to-profession integration and business incubation through the support of its government and universities, and it has a bountiful amount of human resources that can be tapped by Oklahoma businesses, Clark explained.

Taiwan also has a leading role in the global high-tech industry. International Protocol and Development Officer Dessie Apostolova said Oklahoma businesses should explore the potential of entering into strategic partnerships with Taiwanese firms.

“Taiwan is poised to become a major factor in the Asia-Pacific aerospace industry,” Apostolova said. “Oklahoma is looking to learn from Taiwan's internationally recognized successful model of commercializing government-supported innovation, research and development programs.”

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry said his state has much it can learn from the productive island located just off the southeast coast of mainland China.

“The United States and Taiwan have long enjoyed mutually productive economic, educational and cultural relations,” Henry said. “As they enter the 21st century, Oklahoma and Taiwan have a unique opportunity to build on their individual strengths and forge strong partnerships in the areas of aerospace, science and technology, logistics and distribution.

“The mission of the Oklahoma delegation in June is to identify and foster these strategic partnership opportunities with our friends in Taiwan.”

Oklahoma Maintains Strong Presence in Vietnam
Vietnam and Oklahoma have enjoyed a unique relationship the last nine years. Shortly after the United States lifted its trade embargo on Vietnam, Oklahoma created a trade office within the country’s borders. Up to this time, Oklahoma is the only state to do so.

Oklahoma and Vietnam are involved in many of the same industries, which led to the creation of the trade office, Clark said.

“Oil and gas services, infrastructure equipment, financial services and biotech – they are all fields in which Oklahoma and Vietnam share common success,” Clark said. “Vietnam offers Oklahoma companies within those industries an opportunity to export products and services to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.”

Governor Brad Henry believes in the potential for building on the successful relationship between Oklahoma and Vietnam.

“Over the last decade the United States and Vietnam have advanced a wide variety of commercial, diplomatic, educational and cultural ties,” Henry said. “Oklahoma has been at the forefront of many of these initiatives that have benefited the citizens of both countries and have helped foster mutual appreciation and understanding.”

Oklahoma Education Offers Strong Foothold in the New Economy
Oklahoma officials not only hope to delve into the many aspects of Taiwan’s fascinating business and innovation incubation system and Vietnam’s export potential, but they also hope to show Taiwanese and Vietnamese officials one major perk Oklahoma provides to both – new economy partnerships.

New economy refers to the goods and services that are not counted toward revenue and business statistics currently tracked by the Federal Government.

The business and revenue statistics that are counted toward the exportation of manufactured products – old economy – is something in which Oklahoma has adequate numbers, but nothing significant when looking on paper.

The new economy, however, is an area in which Oklahoma excels.

“The new economy is all the numbers that are not covered in the traditional exports,” Clark said. “Oklahoma has a lot to offer in these areas. Education, bio-technology and aerospace technology are three major fields that would be included in new economy exports, and Oklahoma thrives in all of them, especially in relation to Vietnam and Taiwan.”

Education might be Oklahoma’s strongest new-economy export, Clark said. Oklahoma is one of the leading states in the number of Asian students enrolled in universities and colleges, including about 200 Vietnamese and 400 Taiwanese students, according state records.

"Attracting international students to our state is one of the many ways that higher education contributes to Oklahoma's economic development," says Risser. "Our colleges and universities offer a wide variety of degrees that are in high demand in the global economy and we offer the kind of living environment that is very appealing to Asian students. I expect us to build on our past successes and see even more international students come to our state for their college degrees."

Aerospace technology and bio-technology, however, are also considered fields in which Oklahoma has success, Clark said. Many of the biologicals used to cleanse shrimping waters in Vietnam and many of the parts produced for various aircrafts that are used in both Vietnam and Taiwan originate in Oklahoma.

One item Oklahoma officials want to make sure they share with Vietnamese and Taiwanese officials is the quality business atmosphere Oklahoma embodies.

“One of the most important objectives in our talks with Vietnam and Taiwan is letting them know what Oklahoma has to offer,” Taylor said. “It isn’t uncommon for people outside the United States to be familiar with only the East and West coasts. We want them to know we have a very diverse and skilled work force. We have a beautiful state. We want them to know about our core industries of aerospace and energy.

“We want them to know about everything that makes Oklahoma the wonderful state it is.”

Oklahoma officials will return from their Asian tour on June 23, and Clark said in the end, they hope to have accomplished enough to build on the strong relations Oklahoma already has with Vietnam and Taiwan.

“We hope to develop ties for Oklahoma’s benefit,” Clark said, “and we hope Vietnam and Taiwan can benefit from us as well.”

A new I Believe in Oklahoma weblog – also known as a blog – will feature postings from Taylor and others during the delegation’s trip to Asia. Oklahomans are encouraged to visit the blog for the periodic updates and share their own comments. Access the blog at www.believeinokblog.com.