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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

Daniels, McRobbie set for Asia trip

IU President Michael McRobbie will be among Gov. Mitch Daniels’ delegation to Asia next week, in what fellow University and commerce leaders say could further pave the way for engagement with Chinese and Japanese research institutions and businesses.

For McRobbie, internationalizing IU has been a central tenet of his presidency. He’s traveled to Zhejiang University twice before, fostering a close relationship with its president, Yang Wei.  

“The president is deeply committed to all kinds of international partnerships,” Patrick O’Meara, IU vice president for international affairs, said. “But he’s also certainly committed to Asia.”

Along with reaching out to universities and businesses, McRobbie will host alumni in both Shanghai and in Japan.

It will be the president’s second trip to the region in three months.

In June, he hosted the International Alumni Conference in Seoul, the first alumni reunion of its scale since 1999.   

The trip’s primary mission, Daniels has said, will be to open the doors for investment in Indiana to expanding Chinese businesses. Even while Zhejiang is Indiana’s Chinese sister-state, this is the first economic development mission to the country by a Hoosier governor in more than a decade.

“The second part is thanking those who have invested in Indiana and finding out what we can do for them,” E. Mitchell Roob Jr., Indiana’s secretary of commerce, said.  

Daniels has led five development missions as governor, most recently to Japan and Taiwan. Japanese companies already invest $9.8 billion in Indiana, employing 42,000 workers across more than 200 companies.

As Indiana manufacturing has sputtered, Daniels said he hopes Chinese investment in Indiana will mirror that of the Japanese. Auto giants there, such as Toyota, have withered beneath the recession, and future investment by booming Chinese companies could curb the unemployment rate, which continues to hover at about 10 percent.

“The goal is always the same: insourcing jobs,” Daniels said Wednesday in a radio interview.

In recent years, Daniels turned down offers to visit China, saying companies then were only looking to benefit from American outsourcing.

“Now it looks like maybe they’re ready to open their checkbooks,” he said. “We’d like to bring back some of those dollars that have been going over there.”

Roob said the pending sale of Hummer to China’s Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery is one example where a Chinese-owned corporation could soon employ American industrial workers. If the sale is approved by the Chinese government, Indiana leaders will try and convince Tengzhong that it’s best to maintain the
production facility in Mishawaka, Ind.

“They’re not nationalistic about this,” Roob said. “They’re capitalistic about this.”
Toyota, meanwhile, already operates a plant in Princeton, Ind., and announced plans in July for $500 million in upgrades. This comes even as sales have sagged.

Executives announced last week they plan to close a manufacturing plant in California. The Hoosier delegation will meet with Toyota executives Sept. 15.
Along with Daniels and McRobbie, delegates include six mayors, Purdue’s vice provost for engagement and business leaders from firms including Old National Bank, Duke Energy and ProLiance Energy.

And in the spectrum of international trade, Roob said incentives for investments go well beyond the numbers. Those intangibles bode well for Indiana, he added.
“It’s the fact that people in Indiana are pathologically nice and hardworking and open to business and not arrogant about it,” he said. “The state’s collective personality pays for itself overseas.”

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