A weeklong trip to East Asia is a good investment of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s time, as he can not only touch base with some of Louisiana’s existing foreign investors but also recruit more prospects for the state.
While there is a boom in major petrochemical investments in Louisiana, and Jindal will not neglect such longtime corporate citizens, the pipeline of both energy-related businesses as well as others can always be stoked a bit.
The trip to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will include visits with 10 major companies.
“In several cases, we will be visiting with companies that are actively considering projects in Louisiana,” Jindal told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
While Jindal is at odds on many issues with President Barack Obama, this is one arena where they are working along similar lines. The president stressed the importance of foreign trade in his recent visit to the Port of New Orleans, and his arguments are cogent to Jindal’s trip: America should seek to double its exports and more generally engage with the world.
That’s profitable for both sides of the oceans.
One important goal is recruiting the foreign direct investment that Jindal is seeking, particularly in manufacturing.
If anything, the governor might be criticized for waiting so long, into his second term, for this kind of initiative. Other Southern governors have been more aggressive in going abroad, as was Jindal’s predecessor, Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
However, the times we think had a lot to do with the timing of this trip. Jindal took office just months before the 2008 crash froze international financial markets. As the recovery has taken hold, foreign direct investment in the United States has picked up; it also takes time to cultivate prospects and make the governor’s personal visit more useful in the wooing.
A new focus on international business has been part of the efforts of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and other Louisiana economic development offices. The state has a new master plan for international trade and development that hopes to produce 75,000 jobs over a series of years.
“We need to diversify and go beyond our country’s borders,” Jindal said. “We need to focus on the next frontier for business opportunities.” He is right.
We hope that the time is propitious and the visit successful in selling new foreign companies on the virtue of growing with Louisiana’s reviving economy.