WisBusiness: Doyle hopes trip boosts trade with Japan

By Brian E. Clark

Gov. Doyle will return from a weeklong trip to Japan on Saturday after laying the groundwork
for what he hopes is new investment in Wisconsin bioscience companies.

Speaking from Kyoto, Doyle said he hoped his trade mission would also lead to increased
exports to Japan, which already spends $800 million on Wisconsin products annually – second only
to Canada.

In addition, he said he thought he had made some progress in resolving a dispute between a
Wisconsin outboard motor maker and Japan.

Though Doyle did not announce any specific investment initiatives by Japanese firms, he
called the trip “incredibly productive.”

“In the past few days, we’ve continued to focus on high-tech and bio-tech businesses and
being able to work with Japanese companies and investors,” he said.

The governor also said he had dinner with three secretaries in Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi’s recently reshuffled cabinet. He said talks with the secretaries of finance; economic
trade and industry; and foreign affairs focused primarily on investment opportunities in

Doyle said one potential investor is NPT, the dominant Japanese phone company, which he said
is looking for business and investment opportunities in the United States.

Doyle also said he discussed the growing trade dispute over outboard motors with
Japanese officials.

The argument could affect thousands of state jobs and have a major impact on the Wisconsin’s
boating industry.

The dispute is between Fond du Lac-based Mercury Marine Inc. and Japanese outboard makers,
including Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki. Mercury Marine has 3,500 employees and is the only U.S.
owned outboard-engine company.

Mercury Marine has accused the Japanese of “dumping,” selling engines at prices significantly
less than they charge for them in Japan.

Last month, at Mercury’s request, the U.S. levied a 22 percent import tax on Japanese

“I hope the issue can be resolved because we need a level playing field,” Doyle said.
“I want Mercury Marine – which makes an extremely high quality product – to be treated fairly
and I want to save Wisconsin jobs.”

On Tuesday, Doyle visited the Kazusa Akademia Park’s DNA Research Institute in Chiba
Prefecture, Wisconsin’s sister-state in Japan.

Doyle also hosted an Economic Development Policy Dialogue in Chiba with Gov. Akiko
Domoto to expand trade and research.

“We want to move beyond cultural and educational exchanges and work for mutual economic
development,” he said.

Doyle said Kazusa Institute officials were interested in the Wisconsin Alumni Research
Foundation’s patent work and start-up efforts in the University Research Park on Madison’s west
side that move research from labs to businesses.

The governor also attended Lands’ End’s celebration of its first decade in Japan. The
company has 250 employees and a woman president – which Doyle described as a rarity in Japan.

In addition, the governor said he unveiled a new video that promotes Wisconsin and aims to
convince the Japanese that the Badger State is a “great place to do business.”

Doyle also noted that after a long slump, Japanese industries are looking to the United
States for ways to improve business practices – a reverse from the 1980s.

“Back then, U.S. firms were adopting Japanese practices,” he said. “Now, they want to
reform their practices and be less autocratic.”

The governor was accompanied by 29 business, academic and university officials on the
trade mission. His expenses were paid for by Wisconsin industries.

“Trips like this are important if we want Wisconsin markets to grow,” he said. “To do
that, we must have good personal relationships with people.”