March 19, 2019

AWB leads 'Business and Baseball' trade mission to Japan

By: Andrew Lenderman   Comments: 0
AWB is leading a "Business and Baseball" trade mission to Japan this week. Japan is Washington's 3rd-largest trading partner. The 35-member delegation enjoyed a briefing dinner Tuesday was sponsored by AGC Biologics. (Photo: Aron Kremer for AWB)

Later this week, the crack of baseball bats and roar of thousands of cheering fans inside the Tokyo Dome await an AWB delegation on a trade mission to Japan.

Until then, the group is celebrating and strengthening the deep connections — both trade and cultural — between Washington state and Japan.

The 35-member delegation led by AWB Board Chair Tim Schauer and President Kris Johnson kicked off the weeklong mission called “Business and Baseball” early this morning (evening in Tokyo) with a dinner highlighting the diversity of industries linking the Washington and Japan.

The four-day event includes panel discussions that highlight international trade agreements, agriculture exports, infrastructure, the Summer Olympics 2020 and professional baseball. The delegation has also scheduled tours of the Port of Tokyo and Costco Wholesale Kawasaki, in addition to meetings and networking with leaders of Japanese firms, the U.S. Embassy and the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Diana Birkett Rakow of Alaska Airlines addressed AWB's "Business and Baseball" trade delegation at a briefing dinner Tuesday in Tokyo.
The group will also attend the opening games for the Seattle Mariners versus the Oakland A’s in the Tokyo Dome.

“We're going to learn a lot this week,” Johnson said Tuesday at a briefing dinner. “We're going to build relationships that will deepen our trade and cultural ties. And we're going to celebrate two big Mariners wins here.”

The economic and cultural ties between Washington and Japan are significant. More than $5.4 billion in exports went to Japan in 2017, making the island nation Washington’s third-largest trading partner. Likewise, Washington bought $5.26 billion in Japanese goods, which makes the Evergreen State the 7th-largest market in the United States for Japanese products.

AWB’s trade mission is supported in partnership with the state Department of Commerce, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Greater Seattle Partners, the Japan-American Society of the State of Washington, and the Japan Business Association of Seattle.

Mariners legend Ichiro Suzuki is expected to start Wednesday evening in right field, The Seattle Times reports, in what could be one of his final appearances before retirement. Times columnist Larry Stone takes a look at what could be the end of an era for two of the franchise’s high-profile players.

“Ichiro is going to start for us in the first game against the A’s,” manager Scott Servais told the newspaper after the Mariners’ 6-5 victory over the Yomiuri Giants in an exhibition game. “He’s been playing fine in the outfield. He’ll start the game and we’ll see how it plays out from there.”

The Mariners are making a big splash in Tokyo this week, this photo series from the Times shows. AWB will also track the progress of our trade mission throughout the week. Be sure to follow us on social media.