By Dave Moore, Data Journalist and Staff Writer
A delegation of Dallas-Fort Worth business, tourism and airport officials met with hundreds of industry executives and government officials during their mission trip to Tokyo and Hong Kong from Nov. 7-11, developing new business opportunities, while further cementing relationships in trade and tourism.
Highlights of the trip included an executive meeting with Keidanren, the Japanese business federation that represents the country’s largest businesses, and a visit with Gov. Hideaki Ohmura of Aichi Prefecture, which is home to several large corporations, including Toyota and the Central Japan Railway Company.
Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price spearheaded the Dallas-Fort Worth delegation, which was organized by the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The business pillar of the mission was led by the Dallas Regional Chamber’s International Economic Development team.
“Our trip reinforced to us the value of face-to-face meetings in building lasting business ties,” said Sarah Carabias-Rush, head of the International Team. “Dallas-Fort Worth has a lot to offer as a business partner, and our presence in Tokyo and Hong Kong demonstrated our sincere desire to work with companies interested in investing in the U.S.”
The 26-person Dallas-Fort Worth delegation attended more than 30 meetings, some of which were covered by Japanese public television’s NHK News, the Chunichi Shimbun (one of Japan’s largest regional newspapers with a daily circulation of 2.5 million), and the Nikkei Shimbun, a daily business newspaper with a circulation of more than 3 million.
The trip was also important in furthering relationships with Japanese companies that have already established operations in the Dallas Region. Such companies include ORIX, a financial services group headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo, which relocated its U.S. headquarters from New York to Dallas in 2003, and Toyota, which moved its national headquarters from the Los Angeles area to Plano in 2014.
While on the trip, the delegation helped finalize plans for a Dallas satellite office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) to further promote trade between Japan and the Lone Star State. The delegation’s visit with Japan Central Railway provided updates on high-speed rail technology. Japan Central is providing technical assistance to Texas Central, private developers of the high-speed train planned between North Texas and Houston.
“Many other Japanese companies are interested in expanding their business operations in the U.S. and – once they hear our story – are very receptive to the Dallas Region,” said Dallas Regional Chamber President and CEO Dale Petroskey. “The Dallas Region has all the assets needed to be a world-renowned metro area, but we need to spend the time to tell our story and carry our brand. When we do that, we see results.”
The number of Japanese companies with operations or headquarters in North Texas has increased by more than 50 percent – climbing from 112 to 170 — between 2012 and 2016. Also, Japan Airlines resumed daily nonstop service last year between Tokyo Narita and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, restarting a route that had been discontinued in 2001. The new route adds to American Airlines’ twice daily nonstop flights.
Japan ranks 7th for international visitors to Dallas and Fort Worth, half coming here for business. Japanese visitors stay in the Dallas Region an average of six nights and spend almost four times what domestic visitors spend.
In Hong Kong, the delegation met with the Trade Development Council on business opportunities, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and its members, and the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of Hong Kong, Gregory So.
This is the sixth year the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and its partners, including the Dallas Regional Chamber, have engaged in international trade missions.
Sponsors for the mission included American Airlines, Axxess, Civitas, Ebby Halliday Realtors, Estrada-Hinojosa Company, PWC, and Texas Central Partners. Mission partners were the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.
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