North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker promoted the state’s advantages as a business location in remarks delivered Friday morning at the high-profile Southeast U.S./Japan Annual Joint Meeting.  The conference, now in its 37th year, opened Thursday evening. Japanese business and government leaders will learn about investment and trade opportunities in North Carolina and six other states in the Southeastern United States.  Atsutoshi Nishida, former Chief Executive Officer of the Toshiba Corporation and co-chairman of the conference, invited Secretary Decker to Japan on behalf of the Japanese-based association that is hosting this year’s meeting.

While in Japan, Secretary Decker is also conducting business development meetings to promote North Carolina exports and attract investments to build new facilities in the state.  The Secretary visited Japanese retailers selling North Carolina products such as furniture, honey, and pork and has met with business investment prospects throughout the week.

“Japanese investments in North Carolina created more than 3,000 jobs in our state just in the last four years,” said Secretary Decker. “Maintaining and strengthening our relationships with Japan helps facilitate these opportunities.”

North Carolina is a founding member of the Southeast U.S./Japan Association (SEUS/Japan), formed in 1975 to promote trade, investment, understanding and relationships between Japan and the Southeast. Current member states in the association also include Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  Japanese participation is organized by the Japan – U.S. Southeast Association (Japan/US-SE), the Japanese counterpart to SEUS/Japan, and the conference is known as the Annual Joint Meeting.  The meeting location alternates between a southeastern host state and Japan.  When held in the Southeast, the meeting location rotates among the member states.  North Carolina last hosted the meeting in Raleigh in 2008.

Japan is an important economic partner for North Carolina, both as a market for North Carolina made products and as a source for foreign direct investment into the state. In 2013, North Carolina exports to Japan totaled $1.67 billion.  Chemicals, food, and beverage and tobacco products were the top three export industries in the state. Japan places fourth in market rank for North Carolina exports, following Canada, Mexico and China.

North Carolina has attracted major investments by some of Japan’s best-known multinational firms, including Bridgestone, Honda, Hitachi, Toshiba, Aisin AW, Denso, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Sumitomo Electric, and Kyocera.  Since 2010, North Carolina has attracted $982 million in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from Japan.  3,166 North Carolina jobs were created from Japanese FDI since 2010, ranking 8th in the United States.

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