Asia Pacific Relations
Launching Hawai‘i’s Asia-Pacific Strategy
Hawai‘i shares many cultural and economic ties with countries from around the Asia-Pacific region. To take advantage of this unique position, the Lieutenant Governor works closely with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) to ensure that Hawai‘i remains a top tourist destination.
- In May, the previous Lieutenant Governor traveled with the HTA to Seoul to demonstrate high level government support to Korean travel industry partners and the airlines, and to promote Hawai‘i as an ideal travel and business destination. To complement HTA’s aggressive marketing push, the previous Lieutenant Governor conducted a roundtable discussion while in Seoul with four trade newspapers, briefing their readership in issues ranging from the increase in available flights to the various activities for visitors on all of the islands. He also met with both Asiana Airlines and Korean Airlines to reaffirm Hawai‘i’s commitment to Korea. These meetings were also an opportunity to pitch a direct flight from Incheon to Kona, which would encourage visitors to also direct their travel to our neighbor islands.
- In January, President Obama issued an Executive Order directing the Departments of State and Homeland Security to increase non-immigrant visa processing capacity by 40% in China and to shorten the wait time for personal interviews to three weeks or less. Later, in March, the previous Lieutenant Governor met with officials from the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department and the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. to ensure that Hawai‘i would be well-positioned to take full advantage of this additional visa processing capacity. Following his visit to Washington, D.C., the previous Lieutenant Governor met with Consul General Qiu Shaofang in Los Angeles to discuss the Executive Order and the potential for increasing visitations and direct flights to Hawai‘i. In September, the White House issued a New Travel and Tourism Progress Report by the Departments of States and Homeland Security, which announcing the developments made in response to the President’s Executive Order. The increased capacity to process visas combined with the efforts of the previous Lieutenant Governor and HTA means Hawai‘i will see more visitors from China in the years to come, already a growing group that spends the most on average per day in Hawai‘i.
Enhancing Hawai‘i’s Economy through International Partnerships
Hawai‘i is committed to expanding beneficial international partnerships. Through coordination with multiple state agencies, particularly the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), the previous Lieutenant Governor has led the way in bringing new technology and investment to the state.
- On August 13, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Secretary General Xu Hubin signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow CCPIT to refer Chinese investors and developers to be matched with Hawai‘i energy projects seeking capital or development partners. The agreement culminates almost a year of discussion between Hawai‘i and Chinese officials that began during he 2011 APEC Leader’s Meetings and holds great promise for development of important collaboration with China, the world’s leader in sales of clean energy technology.
- In August, the previous Lieutenant Governor partnered with the U.S. Japan Council to coordinate a high level government to government meeting between the State of Hawai‘i and Hiroshima, Shizuoka and Saga prefectures. The three Japanese delegations, led by their Governors, traveled to Honolulu to establish a formal “State to Prefecture Collaboration” with the goal of fostering increased trade and an economic partnership with Hawai`i. The meeting focused on clean energy initiatives and projects, tourism, educational exchanges, and with Saga prefecture, healthcare. Governor Abercrombie and the Japanese Governors discussed the potential for economic cooperation in the various areas and memorialized this commitment to work together by signing a Memorandums of Understanding. Shizuoka prefecture sent a second delegation in October to maximize opportunities for their businesses to participate and exhibit in Hawai‘i’s 2013 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit & Expo. Saga prefecture is in discussions with various hospitals regarding a new cancer technology and Hiroshima companies are pursuing certain opportunities in clean energy.
- The previous Lieutenant Governor partnered with the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) to lead a delegation to Taiwan in May of 2012 to promote clean energy and tourism. The previous Lieutenant Governor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mayor Jason Hu of Taichung City, in the presence of his cabinet and the Secretary General for Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy, Ms. Linda Chen, reinforcing a mutual commitment to explore opportunities in renewable energy and sustainable development, educational exchange and tourism and cultural and business exchange.
- On February 2, the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) and the State of Hawai`i signed a Letter of Intent to pursue mutual interests in smart grid development. While in Korea, the previous Lieutenant Governor met with officials from MKE and the Korea Smart Grid Institute to strengthen Hawai`i’s commitment to this collaboration. Negotiations are underway between public and private partners from Korea and Hawai’i and the goal of the partnership is to develop a Memorandum of Understanding for a project in Hawai`i in the early part of 2013.
- On November 22, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the State of Hawai`i and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a government-affiliated corporation of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. NEDO has invested $37 million to build a smart grid demonstration project on the island of Maui. This project will study the effect of large scale integration of electric vehicles on a “typical” island electric transmission and distribution grid.