SE Asia Economic office bill wins Oklahoma House approval

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The Oklahoma House passed a bill this week to create a Southeast Asia Economic Trade Office and locate it in Taiwan.

House Bill 3166, authored by Rep. Judd Strom, R-Copan and co-authored by Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds passed on a vote of 82-11 and is eligible to be heard by the full Senate.

If such a trade office is created, it would be designed to advance Oklahoma’s interests in the country and region. Reps. Strom and Phillips contend it would facilitate increased economic relationships with Southeast Asia.

“This office will lay the first brick in the path for businesses wishing to move here, promote Oklahoma businesses abroad, coordinate business outreach and produce promotional and educational materials that promote trade between the State of Oklahoma and Southeast Asia,” Strom said.

He said the top trade categories for Southeast Asia are machinery, fuel, tech, aircraft and aeronautics parts and services and agricultural products.

“In 2020, the U.S. goods and services trade with Taiwan alone was worth an estimated $106 billion. They are currently our ninth largest trading partner, and we want more of those dollars to flow through our state.”

“As Oklahoma is trying to carve out a larger piece of global economic trade, it behooves us to create this office and establish increased diversity in our trade partnerships,” Phillips.

He wants to decrease the country’s dependence on Chinese-made products, especially in light of China’s support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“Now is an ideal time to diversify our trading partners in Southeast Asia and this office will allow us to do just that. There is already a huge market in Taiwan and other areas of Southeast Asia for American agricultural products, and the trade office will help open new markets for American-owned small businesses as well. The passage of this bill signals the start of an exciting period of economic development for our state, and I can’t wait to see the results.”