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Press Releases

Haslam Proclaims March 29 ‘Vietnam Veterans Day’

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs; March 25, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder formally recognized and remembered Vietnam Veterans leading into the 40th anniversary of the withdrawal of troops.

On March 30, 1973, President Richard Nixon began withdrawing combat troops from Vietnam. Between 1961 and 1975, more than 49,000 Tennesseans served in Southeast Asia. Approximately 6,000 Tennessee troops were wounded in the Vietnam War and 1,289 Tennessee service members were killed.

Haslam publicly signed a Vietnam Veterans Day Proclamation which proclaims March 29 as a day of remembrance and recognition for veterans who served in the military during the Vietnam War. Haslam presented the proclamation to Vietnam Veterans of America Tennessee State Council President Barry Rice on behalf of all Vietnam Veterans. In 2008, Tennessee became the first state to proclaim a Vietnam Veterans Day.

“The State of Tennessee pauses to remember lives lost and publicly recognize those who came home to a lifetime of challenges after the Vietnam War,” Haslam said. “As the 40th anniversary approaches it is important to thank Tennessee’s Vietnam Veterans for their service and sacrifice.”

“The wounds of the Vietnam War are still fresh for many of our veterans,” Grinder said. “We hope remembrance and recognition from ceremonies such as this one will lead to continued healing for veterans scarred by combat and rejection.”

“We are honored to receive the public support of Governor Haslam and to feel the support of the State of Tennessee,” Rice said. “Support and encouragement is the greatest gift of gratitude Vietnam Veterans can receive to continue the healing process.”

Vietnam Veterans Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) co-sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 0183 to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day and the 40th anniversary of the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.

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Business and Economy News Tax and Budget

Bredesen’s Trade Trip Surprise Is Vietnam

Gov. Phil Bredesen has returned from his most recent business venture to China, and he said some of the potential new economic ties he found on his trip to Asia are, believe it or not, with Vietnam.

“It was surprising to me, I’ll be honest. When it was first suggested to me that we do this, my first reaction was how exactly are Americans viewed there,” Bredesen said Tuesday night. “Because I’m of an age where my colleagues were going over there and shooting guns. What I was told was they love Americans.”

Bredesen headed a small group on his visit to Asia, a trip that included an appearance at the Shanghai Expo where Tennessee was a contributor to the U.S. pavilion. He met with Chinese officials there, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, former governor of Washington, was there at the same time.

“I know we developed some serious good will,” Bredesen said.

He said there is potential for more trade with China, and his trip was to build on strides Tennessee has already made there. He attended a seminar in Hong Kong, and the trip touched briefly in Vietnam, where Bredesen said some interesting new opportunities lie.

“Vietnam is a very rapidly developing market. That’s actually going to be something for the next governor to consider, if they want to pursue it,” he said.

“It’s a country of 80 million people that’s growing very rapidly. Vietnam is really trying to position itself as the plus-one of China, to move along kind of in China’s wake. They’re not nearly as big as China, but they’re really trying to do business. They’re aggressively promoting U.S. investment there.”

Bredesen’s surprise would certainly be shared by millions of Americans who remember the Vietnam War so vividly, and broader trade ties with Vietnam is a concept that for many Americans is probably difficult to grasp. Yet Bredesen seems convinced that attitudes there are quite favorable toward the United States, and a lot of that has to do with the Vietnamese people. He said the U.S. embassy there briefed his party and told him a survey is done every year where America is most popular in the world.

“For years, it’s been the Philippines. It’s now Vietnam,” Bredesen said. “Beyond all belief, Vietnam is apparently the country in the world in which Americans are held in the highest regard.

“A lot of it is that it’s a very young country, and a huge portion of the population doesn’t even remember the war. They were born after the war or were very young during it. But Vietnam since the late 1990s has been coming out of its shell. It’s very aggressive in business, like China is. I think it’s going to present some very interesting opportunities over the next decade.”

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited Washington in April and said his country wants more trade with the United States. Reuters reports that trade between the two countries, which were bitter enemies in 1960s and early 1970s, has increased more than 700 percent under a trade agreement in 2001. U.S. trade with Vietnam was almost $16 billion last year, and the United States is already Vietnam’s biggest trade partner other than China.

Bredesen said Vietnam would probably not be so much an investor abroad but is a country where the per capita income is rapidly growing.

“They’re very interested in all things American consumer goods,” Bredesen said. “So I think there are some real opportunities for exporting various kinds of things to Vietnam, and that probably is the largest sort of potential area right now. We already have a lot of U.S. companies who are having work done there.”

He said Vietnam is a big textile manufacturer.

“The shirt somebody has here tonight, I’m sure, was made there,” said Bredesen, who was speaking at an event held by first lady Andrea Conte at the Tennessee Residence. “Right now, Vietnam is growing, particularly in the big cities. They’re becoming more wealthy. They want to buy consumer goods. They love American consumer goods, and we certainly have a bunch of them right here in Tennessee.”

The biggest player in Asia for Tennessee, however, remains China.

“We’ve been looking at a lot of different connections. We’re very interested in Chinese investment in Tennessee and creating jobs here,” Bredesen said. “China is obviously accumulating a lot of money, and it is now the world’s largest car manufacturer.

“I hope the next governor will continue this process of building these bridges. China is going to be important in the economy in the world for a long time to come.”

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Press Releases

Bredesen, Kisber & Farr Departing for Asia

Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, May 6, 2010:

Shanghai Expo Hosting 70 Million Visitors, State Leaders to Promote Trade with Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber today announced plans to attend the 2010 Shanghai World Expo to promote trade, investment and tourism between the state of Tennessee and China. The state of Tennessee is a sponsor of the U.S. Pavilion for the event, which is expected to host 5-6 million of the more than 70 million visitors to the Expo which opened May 1, 2010 with the theme “Better City, Better Life.” Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr and International Investment Director Lori Odom will also accompany the delegation.

“Our state’s participation in the Shanghai World Expo is a unique opportunity to educate visitors from around the world about Tennessee, its quality of life and its business climate,” said Governor Bredesen. “Our state’s relationship with Chinese business and government leaders continues to grow and Tennessee’s participation is an important signal that our state is ready to expand business ties.”

Tennessee’s participation in the Shanghai World Expo is an important bookend to the Chinese government’s decision to participate in the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair, the first time following the Cultural Revolution the Chinese government agreed to participate in a world event. The purpose of Tennessee’s participation in the Shanghai World Expo is to build relationships and expose Expo visitors to the Tennessee “brand,” eventually leading to additional investment, job creation and tourism.

“Since 2007, when Tennessee opened its office in Beijing, business opportunities between Tennessee and China have grown steadily,” said Commissioner Kisber. “We believe there are important opportunities for Tennessee companies to sell to Chinese customers, creating new job opportunities for Tennesseans and greater profits for companies.”

Governor Bredesen and Commissioner Kisber will depart for Shanghai on May 14, 2010 and return on May 22, 2010. During their visit, the Tennessee delegation will tour the U.S. and Chinese pavilions at the invitation of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and co-host an investment roundtable for Chinese business leaders interested in entering the U.S. market with the China Investment Promotion Agency.

Following the Shanghai portion of the trip, the Governor and Commissioner will meet with Tennessee companies operating in Hong Kong and then meet with members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to explore business opportunities for Tennessee companies there, primarily in infrastructure development, I/T and telecommunications, consumer goods, industrial machinery and energy.