By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
JACKSON – Republican Phil Bryant of Mississippi is one of five Southeastern U.S. governors in Japan for a trade conference.
Bryant, his chief of staff Kirk Sims and Mississippi Development Authority employees are in Tokyo attending the 35th annual joint meeting of the Southeast U.S./Japan and Japan-U.S. Southeast Associations, Bryant’s office said Thursday.
The gathering started Thursday and ends Saturday.
Other governors in Japan for the conference are Democrat Beverly Perdue of North Carolina and Republicans Nathan Deal of Georgia, Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Nikki Haley of South Carolina.
Republican Govs. Robert Bentley of Alabama and Rick Scott of Florida remained in their home states.
Japanese auto makers Nissan and Toyota have manufacturing plants in Mississippi, and several other Japanese companies have a presence in the state. Bryant is meeting with several trade partners, said his spokesman, Mick Bullock.
“Japan is Mississippi’s largest source of foreign direct investment, and our state’s participation in SEUS-Japan allows us to strengthen our existing ties with Japanese business leaders and pursue new trade and investment relationships,” Bryant said in an Aug. 8 news release announcing the trip.
Bryant left Tuesday and will return to the United States on Sept. 19. His wife, Deborah, did not go on the trip.
“Mississippi’s participation in the SEUS-Japan annual meeting reaffirms to the Japanese business community that Mississippians value our existing relationships and that our state wishes to partner with our Japanese counterparts on additional trade and investment opportunities,” MDA executive director Brent Christensen said when the trip was announced.
Mississippi will host the 2013 meeting of the Southeast U.S./Japan and Japan-U.S. Southeast Associations.