Made in Alabama: Sec. Canfield heads Alabama team in Tokyo for SEUS-Japan 45 summit
Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield is leading an Alabama delegation at an international conference in Tokyo this week that seeks to enhance the robust economic and cultural ties between seven Southeastern states and Japan.
The 45th annual joint meeting of the Southeast U.S.-Japan and the Japan-Southeast associations, known as SEUS Japan, officially begins today and features a full agenda of speeches, high-level panel discussions and networking opportunities on Friday.
Secretary Canfield said the annual SEUS Japan gathering allows members of the Alabama delegation to reinforce bonds that have been established over decades and to explore pathways to future collaborations.
“The long-standing partnership between Japan and Alabama continues to spark economic growth, create opportunity, and foster deep friendships,” he said. “That’s why I am looking forward to seeing this relationship blossom for decades to come.”
Secretary Canfield, who will make remarks to the group on Friday, said Japan is one of Alabama’s most important global partners.
Today, an estimated 90 Japanese companies have established operations in Alabama, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce. The roster of Japanese companies includes global names such as Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Daikin, Rheem and Dai-Ichi Life.
“The impact of Japanese investment in Alabama has been massive,” Secretary Canfield said. “Back in 1999, Honda announced plans to open an auto assembly plant in Alabama, and since that milestone, nearly $10 billion in Japanese investment has flowed into the state.”
The theme of the SEUS-Japan 45 joint meeting is “Continued Success through Partnership & Innovation for a Sustainable Future.”
Panel discussions on Friday will focus on the resiliency of the U.S.-Japanese economic partnership amid global turbulence and how to properly position workforces to support emerging technologies and new sustainability initiatives.
In addition, Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, will address attendees, as will two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato, the first Asian driver to win the celebrated race.
SEUS-Japan 45 also features a reception and gala dinner, as well as a networking event.
The Alabama delegation in Tokyo is composed of community leaders, company officials and economic development specialists from across the state. Ed Castile, director of AIDT and Alabama’s workforce development guru, and Christina Stimpson, Commerce’s international trade expert, also are on the trip.
“The SEUS-Japan summit is a valuable event for us,” said Don Smith, executive director of the St. Clair County Economic Development Council, who is on the trip.
“It provides incredible data and networking opportunities as well as creating a base camp for us to visit the top leadership positions making decisions regarding our local Alabama companies.”
Stimpson, who serves as director of Commerce’s Office of International Trade, said the commercial ties with Japan have become an increasingly important economic driver for Alabama.
“The Japanese-Alabama relationship is stronger than ever. Not only do we have significant foreign direct investment from Japan, but for the first time ever Alabama exports to Japan last year reached over $1 billion,” Stimpson said.
“This is a 42% increase from 2021 and represents the largest percentage increase among our top trading partners.”
Besides Alabama, the states represented at SEUS-Japan are Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida.