- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Friday he’s traveling to Japan and China later this month in an effort to lure companies interested in moving to or expanding their operations in Arkansas.

The Republican governor announced he and Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston will leave Nov. 15 for a trip to the two countries, his third trade mission overseas since taking office in January. Hutchinson is expected to return to Arkansas on Nov. 24.

Hutchinson said he hoped to take advantage of Bentonville-based retail giant Wal-Mart’s growth in China with the trip.

“There’s an extraordinary connection between Arkansas and China just in terms of the presence of Wal-Mart, and I think we’ve failed as a state really to capitalize on the known presence of Wal-Mart and to emphasize the investment opportunity in this state,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson didn’t name the companies he’ll meet with during the trip, but his schedule said he’ll meet with manufacturing and food processing companies as well as government officials in both countries. He’ll also meet with Ambassador Max Baucus in China and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in Japan.

The trip is being paid for by the commission and its nonprofit foundation. Preston said he didn’t have an estimate yet of the trip’s total cost.

Arkansas has had an economic development office in Japan since 1985, and opened one in China in 2008.

Hutchinson led a trade mission to Europe in June, and traveled to Cuba in September.

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