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Trade with Brazil in focus for both Nixon, Quinn this month

A map showing the location of Brazil within South America, along with some of the country's major population centers.
(CIA World Factbook)
A map showing the location of Brazil within South America, along with some of the country's major population centers.

Reporting from KSMU's Jennifer Moore used in this report.

As we mentioned this morning, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will travel to Brazil this month on a trade mission. The trip comes on the heels of the news that Missouri saw its strongest year ever for exports in 2011.

The governor will travel with a delegation of business leaders hoping to expand their exports to the South American nation. According to the governor’s office, several Missouri businesses are expected to negotiate contracts with Brazilian customers during the trip.

“With a population of approximately 200 million people, and a surging global economy, Brazil wants and needs the products we make right here in Missouri, including chemicals, minerals and ores, transportation, electrical and computer equipment, and agricultural products,” Nixon said.

Brazil ranks as the world’s seventh largest economy. Missouri businesses sold over $300 million worth of goods last year to Brazil, according to the governor’s office.

Nixon will also be traveling with a representative from Missouri State University, who will sign an exchange agreement between MSU and the State University of Maringa in Brazil.

The governor’s five day international trip comes during the last month of legislative session. When asked by a reporter whether the timing of the trip concerned him, Nixon said it didn't.

“The primary function of this job is to…is to promote and deliver economic and educational opportunity for the state," Nixon said. "We think the timing of the negotiations we’ve been going through, both in the sub-national as well as the private companies we’ve been dealing with, as well as Missouri State’s efforts; all of those together meant this was the time we need to strike while the iron is hot."

Hinting to the increased pace lawmakers take on in the last few days of session, Nixon said, “it’s almost getting to halftime.”

The trade delegation is scheduled to leave April 14.

Illinois - also focused on Brazil

Meanwhile, Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn is going to Washington, DC next week to talk about exports with Brazilian officials and President Barack Obama.

Quinn announced the trip Tuesday after the first meeting of the Illinois Export Advisory Council, which is made up of business executives including Navistar CEO Daniel Ustian and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman.

Quinn says they talked about the state's export climate and what could be done to improve it. The two-hour meeting was closed to the public.

Quinn has often touted the state's nearly 30 percent increase in exports last year and vowed to increase it. However, economists point out that every US state increased exports last year.

Next week, Quinn meets with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Like his Missouri counterpart, Quinn also plans to travel to Brazil later this year.