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Jindal leaves Sat. for economic development trip

January 10, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is providing few details about the governor’s Asian economic development mission, which begins Saturday.

The administration has offered sketchy outlines of where Jindal will be and little information about the companies and government officials with whom he’ll be meeting on the state-funded trip to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

The week-long trip is the Republican governor’s first overseas business development travel during his six years in office. It comes at a time that Jindal is considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, though the governor says the trip is designed solely to bolster Louisiana’s international business development and trade connections.

“There are real opportunities, not only in the short-term, but to build long-term relationships that will benefit our state,” Jindal said. He added, “It’s just a great opportunity to get in front of some senior decision-makers.”

He and Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said they will meet with leaders of 10 companies in the energy, chemical and manufacturing industries, most of which are considering projects in Louisiana. Also planned are sit-downs with senior government officials to discuss expanding economic ties.

But besides saying the company executives include representatives of Formosa and Shintech, which already have business operations in Louisiana, the administration hasn’t issued other information about the visits that are planned.

Jindal and Moret said they’re providing limited details because they don’t want to tip their hand to other states about what kind of business deals Louisiana is developing and what projects the state is trying to woo. Many of the businesses don’t want the meetings disclosed, the governor said.

“Many of these other companies don’t want to publicly discuss the fact they’re considering investing in the United States,” Jindal said. “These are significant manufacturing companies. These are companies that are considering collectively investments of billions of dollars in the United States that will create thousands if not tens of thousands of jobs.”

The governor also said he’ll be meeting with top government officials in the countries and will release those details after the visits occur because of security concerns and issues of protocol in the different locations.

The administration delegation is a small one, containing Jindal, Moret, the governor’s communications director, two of Moret’s top deputies and the governor’s security detail.

A general outline provided by Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin shows the group arriving in Taiwan and staying through Monday, spending Tuesday and Wednesday in South Korea and Thursday and Friday in Japan, before returning to Louisiana.

“It’s a jam-packed trip,” said Plotkin, who will be traveling with the governor.

Jindal’s flight will be covered by his campaign account, but his hotel and other travel costs will be paid by the state, along with all travel expenses for other members of the delegation and the state trooper security.

The governor said he expects to make additional overseas economic development trips in the coming months. His predecessor, Kathleen Blanco, sought new business investment in a similar trip to China, Taiwan and Japan in 2006 that yielded few tangible results.

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