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Saturday, July 13, 2024 at 5:27 AM

Governor visits trade partners

Abbott travels to South Korea, Taiwan, Japan

AUSTIN — Governor Gregg Abbott is making his first trip to South Korea and Taiwan as part of an economic development mission with countries making a big splash in the Taylor job market and overall Texas economy.

The journey with state and local government officials also will include Abbott’s third trip to long-time Texas trading partner Japan.

The sojourn to South Korea is of particular interest to Central Texas because it bolsters already strong ties between those communities and South Korean companies flocking to the area.

In the last 10 years through 2023, South Korean firms have invested $20.59 billion in 38 projects that created 7,000 jobs in Texas, state officials said.

Thanks largely to Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s investment in an advanced semiconductor foundry in Taylor and projects from Samsung suppliers, the first five months of this year have seen $27.52 billion in nine additional projects from South Korean firms, officials said.

Those will create about 4,800 jobs, according to a statement from the governor’s office on Friday.

“As we look towards the future, Texas is leading the way by advancing freedom and opportunity through cooperation and mutual economic development to empower the next generation,” Abbott said in a prepared release. “Texas offers businesses in critical and emerging industries, such as semiconductors and advanced manufacturing, across the country and around the world the tools and the opportunities to grow and thrive.”

He said meeting with leaders of all three countries will strengthen the economic and cultural partnerships “as we work together to forge the future of innovation.”

Although the list of people on the state delegation to Asia does not include any Williamson County elected and economic development officials or representatives from any of the county’s cities, local leaders have made multiple trips to South Korea in the last two years and The Williamson County Economic Development Partnership now has an office in that country.

Spokespersons for the governor’s office did not return phone calls for comment before press time. Williamson County economic development officials could not be reached immediately for a statement.

There is a heavy contingent representing the cities of the Dallas/ Fort Worth metroplex on the trip along with economic development CEOs from San Antonio, Houston and several smaller cities such as San Marcos, Temple and Victoria. The closest delegate to representing interests in the Austin metro area is Opportunity Austin CEO Ed Latson.

South Korea is Texas’ fourth-largest trading partner, with $32 billion in business between the state and nation in 2023.

Taiwan, home to semiconductor giant and Samsung competitor Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., better known as TSMC, hasn’t had the same level of impact on the Texas economy as South Korea, but made the largest foreign direct investment in the state for 2022 with a $5 billion project.

For the decade through 2023, Taiwanese investments from eight companies totaled $5.29 billion for a total of 2,200 jobs, according to the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Office.

Taiwan is Texas’ seventh-largest trading partner at $21.3 billion in 2023. The biggest direct investments in the U.S. by TSMC is for a huge semiconductor chip plant in Arizona.

Japan has been a steady business partner with Texas with trade hitting $31.2 billion in 2023 to make it the fifth largest between the nation and state.

Japanese companies have pumped nearly $11 billion in direct investment into Texas in the last decade to create 20,000 jobs across 129 projects, officials said. Year to date, Japanese interests have spent $1.47 billion on six projects creating 520 new jobs in the state.


Taylor Press