Politics & Government

Officials to take trade mission to Taiwan

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and state lawmakers including Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville are headed to Taiwan on Saturday on a trade mission to boost trade relations and especially green energy.

“We will continue to promote a strong bilateral relationship between our regions, specifically to find ways to partner with Taiwan in the area of green energy,” Owen, a Democrat active on trade issues, said in a statement put out by his office Wednesday.

Owen has made 23 trade or goodwill trips since taking office in 1997, including one trade mission to China last year. The Taiwan mission is Owen’s fourth to the island and is scheduled to last five days, Owen spokesman Brian Dirks said.

Lawmakers onboard include Becker, an Eatonville Republican and ranking member of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee; Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge, who chairs the Senate’s environmental committee; and Sen. Brian Hatfield, a Raymond Democrat and former Owen aide who chairs the Senate’s agriculture committee.

Gov. Chris Gregoire recently returned from a trade mission to China and Vietnam that was aimed at promoting state exports, including agricultural products, and at furthering investment in the U.S. It also helped Saint Martin’s University in Lacey complete educational exchanges with Chinese universities.

Owen’s announcement said he and Rockefeller are scheduled to speak at the Taiwan International Green Industry Show in Taipei about green energy and their state.

The trip includes meetings with Taiwan’s legislative body and regional officials and a tour of the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, which a Seattle firm designed. Owen met with President Ma Ying-jeou during a Seattle stopover last year.

Two Washington companies that promote environmentally friendly products are among those going along. They are Community Energy Solutions, a nonprofit on Bainbridge Island that advances “clean, renewable energy,” and Summa USA, a Seattle firm that makes nontoxic format printers and vinyl cutters, Owen’s office said.

Owen’s staff said the “elected officials and a member of the lieutenant governor’s staff are being hosted on the trip by the government of Taiwan through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle, while the businesses are traveling at their own expense.” There is no state cost, Dirks said.

Dirks cited state Commerce Department figures to show Taiwan was the state’s 14th largest export destination with $1.2 billion in 2009 and is the state’s fourth-largest agricultural market. The state had $51 billion in total exports.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 bshannon@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/politicsblog