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Ricketts announces trade mission to United Kingdom, Ireland

February 7, 2022 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts and business leaders will travel to the United Kingdom and Ireland in August to promote Nebraska businesses on a trade mission that coincides with the University of Nebraska football team’s season opener in Ireland.

The trade mission will focus on agriculture, insurance and other major Nebraska industries, Ricketts announced Monday. It also will allow them to watch the Huskers play Northwestern in person on Aug. 27.

Ricketts, a Republican, has led Nebraska business executives and state administrators on trips to Asia, Europe, Mexico and Canada during his tenure, with the goal of helping business leaders build relationships abroad and getting foreign companies to invest in Nebraska.

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He said the U.K. is a dominant player in Europe’s insurance industry, which is also a major employer in Nebraska, and several Nebraska companies have offices in England. Companies based in Ireland and Britain have crated about 6,000 jobs in Nebraska, he said, pointing to British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline’s office in Lincoln.

“There’s a great opportunity for Nebraska companies to go over there and find business opportunities,” Ricketts said at a news conference. “... We’d love to help open up doors for (business) folks to be able to get into the U.K.”

State officials have curtailed several previous trade mission because of the coronavirus pandemic, although Ricketts led a delegation to Germany in November. Ricketts said state officials will follow coronavirus travel protocols that are in place at the time, but that he’s hopeful the trip will go forward as planned.

The trade mission will run Aug. 20-28.

Sen. Curt Friesen, a Henderson corn farmer, said it’s important for Nebraska to maintain relationships with European countries because the state exports a large amount of beef, corn, ethanol and other products there.

Nebraska exported more than $1 billion to the United Kingdom and Ireland between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Ag Service and the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte