AP NEWS

First Vietnam, then Malawi for Norfolk mayor

May 19, 2018 GMT

Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning left Thursday for Vietnam, part of a group representing the State of Nebraska and beef producers.

Moenning is traveling with an international trade representative from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to explore emerging markets for beef and build connections with the Vietnamese government and businesses.

“There’s a market for U.S. beef in Vietnam,” Moenning said. “We’re meeting to strengthen ties and connection Vietnamese businesses with Nebraska producers.”

Moenning said the southeast Asian country is receptive to Nebraska beef because the small coastal country is home to more than 90 million people and growing.

“It’s a large market that we can tap into,” Moenning said. “There will be good opportunities in Vietnam for Nebraska producers, large and small.”

Moenning said he will also meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, including the U.S. ambassador, Daniel Kritenbrink.

Kritenbrink is a native Nebraskan, raised in Ashland, and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. He has been a diplomat for the United States in Asia since 1994, and was confirmed as ambassador last October.

Moenning said the Nebraska connection will certainly help with the trade-related goals of the mission.

International trade is essential for the beef industry, Moenning said, because the domestic market has been up and down in recent years and opening new markets will help producers, thus helping the economy.

“The health of agriculture is the health of the state,” he said. “We’re one of the top beef-producing states in the country.”

Nebraska in particular has been a key player in the international beef trade. “The state of Nebraska has been aggressive in opening international trade,” Moenning said.

He said part of the pitch to the Vietnamese is pointing out that it is well established overseas that Nebraskans grow the best beef in the world.

Once the Vietnam concludes, Moenning will then travel to Malawi, where he will be part of a Norfolk contingent visiting there along. He’ll be joined by several Northeast Community College representatives, including Dr. Michael Chipps, college president, as they explore sister city and educational opportunities. A group from Christ Lutheran Church in Norfolk also will be in Malawi at the same time.

Moenning said the Vietnam trip is mostly unrelated to his position as mayor but tied to his involvement in a family beef business, while the Malawi trip is more directly related to his position as mayor. But in neither case is city tax dollars being used to pay his expenses.