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Governor leads Boeing, Monsanto, et al on trade trip to Brazil

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon,  April 3, 2012 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and his wife will lead a delegation representing major businesses around the state – including St. Louis’ Boeing and Monsanto – for a five-day trade meeting later this month to Brazil.

The trip begins April 14. The group is slated to visit São Paulo and Brasilia. The trip comes less than a year after the governor led a trade group to China.

The expenses for Nixon and his wife will be covered by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up 30 years ago to promote economic growth in Missouri.

According to Nixon’s office, the governor “will sign an agreement with the governor of the State of São Paulo to open and expand new markets, increase Missouri exports to Brazil, and expand cultural and educational partnerships between Missouri and Brazil.”

“Numerous Missouri businesses also are expected to negotiate contracts with Brazilian customers during the exports mission,” the governor’s office said.

Last fall, the governor and a number of Missouri leaders traveled to China, resulting in multi-year trade deals totaling $4.6 billion.

Other Missouri companies to be represented on the Brazil trip include: Orscheln Products, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., Solae, Missouri State University, Herzog Contracting Corp., Ungerboeck Systems International, SCD Probiotics, Infinite Energy Construction, Wilson Manufacturing, HTS Technologies, Worldwide Recycling Equipment, Diva Maker, and Sunset Transportation.

“Last year, Missouri businesses set an all-time record for selling Missouri-made and Missouri-grown goods around the world,” Nixon said in a statement. “ … During this working trip to Brazil, we will work with Missouri businesses to increase exports, open and expand Brazilian markets, and significantly expand our presence in South America.”

Missouri’s business exports for 2011 totaled more than $14.1 billion, with nearly $323 million in goods and products to Brazil, “making that nation Missouri’s 10th-largest export market,” state officials say. “ Missouri’s top exports to Brazil include chemicals, minerals and ores, transportation equipment, machinery, electrical equipment and appliances, and computer and electrical products, and agricultural products.”

Aside from Nixon and his wife, Georganne Nixon, the governmental representatives include: Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Jason Hall, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development; state Sen. Michael Parson, R-Bolivar and vice chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee; and state Rep. Kevin McManus, D-Kansas City, who sits on the House panel overseeing international trade.

According to the governor’s office, the delegation’s schedule includes visits with top governmental and regional leaders in Brazil, as well as members of the Federation of Industries of Brazil and the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo. Nixon also plans to tour Iochpe-Maxion, a major Brazilian automotive supplier.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.