Texas Expands Economic Ties with Taiwan, Belgium

Gov. Greg Abbott has held meetings with Taiwan’s president and a delegation from Belgium about growing trade relations and increasing commercial ties.

By the BF Staff
From the January/February 2017 Issue

Gov. Greg Abbott has been proactive in working to expand trade relations and commercial ties between Texas and overseas partners in Europe and Asia.

Gov. Greg Abbott discussing energy, trade and expanded commercial ties with delegation from Taiwan headed by the island nation’s president Tsai Ing-wen (left, front). The meeting was held in Houston.

Gov. Abbot recently met with Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, in Houston to discuss energy, trade relations and commercial ties between Taiwan and Texas. Gov. Abbott and President Tsai discussed ways to increase trade relations with Taiwan, particularly in the exchange of natural gas and agricultural products, of which Taiwan is a major consumer. Additionally, the two leaders discussed the strong biotechnology sectors in both Texas and Taiwan and the potential for future cooperation in medical facility development.

Gov. Abbott and President Tsai concluded the meeting by exchanging gifts, with President Tsai receiving a clock bearing the Texas State Seal and the TX governor receiving a Taiwanese vase.

“It was an honor to meet with President Tsai and discuss how our two economies can expand upon our already prosperous trade partnership,” said Gov. Abbott. “Thanks to our favorable regulatory and legal climate, Texas remains and will continue to be a premier destination for Taiwanese businesses to expand and thrive. I look forward to strengthening Texas’ bond with Taiwan and continuing my dialogue with President Tsai to create even more opportunity and a better future for our citizens.”

“Texas and Taiwan share longstanding relationship based on trade, investment, and tourism,” said President Tsai. “In 2015, Taiwan was Texas’ 5th largest export market in Asia. Texas has attracted more than $10 billion in investment from Taiwan companies, such as Formosa Plastics, Foxconn, Inventec and Eva Air.”

She added, “the edge which Texas holds in energy, biotechnology, smart machinery, and defense industries overlaps with the five major innovative industries which my administration has been promoting in Taiwan. Therefore, I believe there will be more opportunities for both sides to work even closer in the future.”

To strengthen economic ties to Belgium, the Texas Economic Development Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency, a government agency of the Wallonia Region of Belgium.

The signing was part of a reception hosted by the Texas Economic Development Corporation to welcome Princess Astrid of Belgium and dignitaries of a Belgian economic delegation traveling on a week-long mission in the Lone Star State to promote trade opportunities between Texas and Belgium. The Princess was representing 117 Belgian companies and her trip included stops in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and College Station.

The Memorandum of Understanding enables the Texas Economic Development Corporation, a not-for-profit, public-private partnership that markets the state of Texas, to work cooperatively with the Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency for expansion of industry development and commercialization opportunities involving commercial trade, investment and supply chain operations in both economies. The agreement calls for full support by both organizations of companies wishing to relocate or expand in Belgium or Texas through integration into local networks and industry clusters, as well as access to business incubators and university resources.

“Texas and Belgium are already strong partners in trade and investment and this memorandum of understanding will provide a platform to help take our economic relationship to the next level,” said Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation, who jointly signed the MOU with Pascale Delcomminette, CEO of Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency. “This agreement underscores the message that Texas is fertile ground for European business expansion.”

McDaniel noted that there are more than 30 Belgium companies currently operating in Texas, including Budweiser Distributing Company of Borger, Solvay Chemicals, Unimin Corp. and Lhoist North America. Exxon, Dell, AT&T, Heelys and Nuviant Medical are among at least 15 Texas companies operating in Belgium.

Since 2003, Texas companies completed 21 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Belgium, representing more than $2.1 billion in capital investment. In the same period, Belgium companies completed a total of 14 FDI projects in Texas, representing $332.6 million in capital investment and the creation of more than 1,100 jobs.

As the largest exporting state to Belgium, Texas exported $4.61 billion in goods to Belgium last year, making the country the state’s 10th-largest export destination. Texas also imported $1.3 billion of Belgium goods in 2015, including mineral fuel, organic chemicals, industrial machinery and plastics.


Coast Flight Training is expanding from its San Diego headquarters to establish a second location for its airline flight-training program in San Marcos, TX. The new training facilities in San Marcos will focus on training U. S. Military helicopter pilots who are transitioning to in-demand careers as civilian airline pilots for the nation’s top airlines.

The U.S. airline industry is facing a critical shortage of pilots, with more than 617,000-trained pilots needed by 2035 according to studies by Boeing. Pilots earn an average of $58,000 starting salary, plus benefits including travel, climbing to more than $100,000 annually after a few years in the industry, and potentially exceeding $300, 000 annually during a career.

“We are very pleased to be opening a Coast location in San Marcos, where we have been welcomed with open arms by the City, Greater San Marcos Partnership, and in particular Texas Aviation Partners. They created a very positive business environment for us to invest here, create jobs, and help veterans achieve great success for themselves and their families,” said Bryan Simmons, President of Coast Flight Training.

“Having diverse training options available for your workforce is critical to a community’s strong economy,” said Greater San Marcos Partnership President Adriana Cruz. “The Greater San Marcos region’s large veteran population and proximity to major military operations in Austin and San Antonio coupled with the opportunities found in the San Marcos Regional Airport made the Coast Flight facility an excellent fit.”

Partnering with Envoy Air/American Airlines Group, Coast Flight Training instructors will launch the first Rotary Transition Program (RTP) class in San Marcos in early 2017, providing complete transition training of Helicopter pilots to meet FAA fixed wing requirements, along with a conditional offer of employment with Envoy/American Airlines upon successful completion of training and certification.

“Envoy Air is proud to team with Coast to launch this new program in Texas, and to promote commercial aviation as a rewarding career for our U. S. Military Veterans. Coast Flight offers outstanding training and produces well qualified pilots that are ready to join the Envoy/American Airlines Group team, and we welcome them to Texas,” said Ric Wilson, Vice President of Flight Operations, Envoy Air.

The RTP is specifically designed to meet the needs of experienced helicopter pilots, who already have valuable skills that can quickly translate to civilian employment. After approximately 90 days of training, pilots will join the Envoy/American Airlines team, which is making the RTP possible for Veterans by providing tuition assistance and a generous hiring bonus.


Gov. Greg Abbott’s Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative has issued a joint report offering four prime recommendations to ensure future economic competitiveness in Texas:

  • Identify statewide initiatives for the next generation that will make Texas the clear leader in targeted fields.
  • Strengthen prekindergarten through high school academic instruction to establish students’ foundational skills in Math, Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies so that students graduate career and college ready and are prepared for lifetime learning.
  • Build a proactive, ongoing partnership among the TEA, THECB, TWC, and other stakeholders to align the educational goals of Texas with the state’s higher education plan of 60x30TX, which aims for 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds to hold either a certificate or degree by 2030, with the goal of growing the state’s workforce, industry, and the economy.
  • Identify services for Texas veterans and advance strategies to enhance their education and employment opportunities, and develop solutions to ensure a seamless and accelerated transition back into the Texas workforce.