Hawaii opportunity when East meets West

Glen Nakafuji
Glen Nakafuji
Pono Shim
Pono Shim

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This will be the longest foreign trip yet for President Obama and comes on the heels of a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who made a swing through Hawaii just last week on her way to Asia.

Experts on East-West relations say their trip sends a signal that the administration is ready to do business in the region.

Honolulu-based science and engineering company, Oceanit, has been eyeing the Asian market for some time.

"There's a whole range of opportunities out there," Oceanit Tech Development Director Glen Nakafuji said.

"As globalization hits, technology diffuses throughout the world, and a lot of the technologies that we're interested in and have been focusing on have a lot of applications even beyond the U.S.," Nakafuji said.

Oceanit has dozens of science and tech projects in the works and hires some of the country's top engineers and inventors, even rocket scientists. The Obama administration is hoping to get these kinds of companies in Asia.

President Obama says the focus of his trip is all about opening up markets, creating jobs, and exporting goods.

According to WISERTrade and census figures, the U.S. exports more merchandise to Asia than to the European union, and almost as much to NAFTA. Exports to Asia account for 83 percent of Hawaii's $800 million in exports, the largest share of any state, followed by Alaska and Idaho.

"Asia is huge for Hawaii and Hawaii is huge for Asia," Oahu Economic Development Board CEO Pono Shim said.

Shim says companies in the east are looking for long-term relationships, and Hawaii's business leaders need to go beyond the President's visit to cultivate those relationships.

"The President's presence there opens the door for us who are stalwarts within the community, anchors within the community to come behind and extend our hands through the door that's been opened," Shim said.

Mr. Obama's trip includes stops in India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

The stop in South Korea will include meetings at the G20 summit of the world's major economies. Then, he'll go to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC, summit in Japan.

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