Minnesota leaders headed to the land down under for trade trip

A man speaks at a podium
Gov. Tim Walz and others are heading to Australia for an eight-day trade mission.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Gov. Tim Walz and dozens of Minnesota business leaders are set to depart Friday for an eight-day trade mission to Australia focused on medical device technology and agriculture.

The DFL governor is due to lead a group of 35 cabinet members, business leaders, farmers and others on the trip that will include visits to Sydney and Melbourne.

It’s the first time Minnesota officials have headed to the land down under for a trade mission, and Walz said he’s hopeful that the visit will spur more Australian investment in the state.

Before the group sets off, here is the lowdown.

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Who is going?

Walz is set to travel along with Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Matt Varilek, representatives from the state’s trade office and dozens of other Minnesotans.

The governor’s office didn’t send out a full roster of delegates but said the list includes representatives from Destination Medical Center, Medical Alley, Zopec Medical LLC, St. Cloud State University, Delta Air Lines, Cozen O’Connor, University of Minnesota Extension, University of Minnesota, GREATER MSP, Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, Naturally MN, Northarvest Bean Growers Association, Vessyll, Talon Metals, Metro Pros Human Resource Consulting, Newterra Corporation, Inc., Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, KnectIQInc., Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, Red Lake, Inc., Alexandria Technical & Community College, SolarPod, Inc., Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Imricor Medical Systems, Inc., Fredrikson & Byron, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Minneapolis, Minnesota Farmers Union and Minnesota Soybean.

Why Australia?

State trade officials say they see a lot of potential to grow business ties to Australia and they feel like now is the right time to do that.

Australia is currently No. 13 on Minnesota’s list of top countries buying Minnesota exports. In 2022, the state traded $579 million in goods with the country — $438 million going out, $141 million coming in.

“So the goal will be to try and say, ‘Hey, this is a great place to do business here.’ And also to take some of these Minnesota companies and say, ‘If you want to expand, Australia is open for you too,’ which of course creates opportunities going both ways,” Walz said earlier this week. “It has not been tapped, where it could be.”

What’s on the itinerary?

The group will split its time between business districts in Sydney and Melbourne.

Walz said the delegation will aim to build new business relationships with Australians working in medical technology, clean technology, higher education and agriculture.  They’ll also meet Australian officials and participate in business negotiations.

The governor said he was hopeful that the delegation will return to Minnesota with commitments for tens of millions of dollars in new investments in the state.

Where else has Walz done trade missions?

This will be Walz’s fifth international business development trip since first taking office in 2018. He has led visits to Finland, Japan, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom.