2023 N.J. East Asia Economic Mission: 10 things we learned

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Gov. Phil Murphy and dozens of representatives from New Jersey businesses, academic institutions and economic development organizations returned from the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission trip Sunday with plenty of business insights — and even more leads.

ROI-NJ made the trip (see our complete list of stories here).

Here are 10 things we learned:

  1. Murphy’s stamina

The governor’s energy level blew everyone away. While the delegates (a group that ranged from 40-60 depending on the part of the trip) attended four to six events a day, Murphy did twice the number. He not only started earlier and ended later (and that included three 6 a.m. runs) he double-booked time slots each day, enabling him to have a double-figure number of events each day.

  1. Murphy’s connections

The governor met with the head of state and key government officials in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. That doesn’t happen with every governor that comes to the region — and shows the value not only of the state of New Jersey, but having a chief executive who was the former ambassador to a G7 nation (Germany) and a very successful global business leader.

  1. First lady was up front, too

In addition to accompanying the governor at many key events, first lady Tammy Murphy had her own series of events, meeting with business leaders and college students — discussing some of her key initiatives: maternal health and women in the workplace/society.

  1. Assemblywoman Ellen Park is rising star

As the only Korean-American state legislator, Park (D-Englewood) was thrilled for the opportunity to come on the trip. She wowed elected officials in all three countries and impressed the delegates. A saying quickly developed among those on the trip: Ellen Park for … (fill in the blank). She has a bright political future.

  1. Choose New Jersey matters

The economic development arm of the state once again showed its great strength, pulling together another stellar economic trip (the fourth of the administration) while opening its fifth overseas office (one that serves the Pacific Rim will open in Taiwan in 2024). These overseas efforts will be one of the legacies of the Murphy administration. (Worth noting: The trip was sponsored by Choose — not a single tax dollar was used.)

  1. Talent/education rules

The cost of doing business in a country matters a little bit — having shared values matters more. But nothing matters more to companies thinking of opening up shop overseas than having an educated workforce (to draw from) and talented school systems (where employees can put their kids).

  1. Energy issues are key

From developing clean energy sources to finding ways to diversify their offerings, few sectors came up as often as energy. There are a lot of opportunities here.

  1. You can be powerful, purposeful and polite

Deferring too much to the people at the top can stifle innovation. We get that. But, there’s also an added value of a business climate where everyone treats everyone with respect — starting at the top — and every job is viewed as essential.

  1. 7-Eleven is still a thing

A really big thing. The convenience shop was ubiquitous throughout Asia, but nowhere as much as Taiwan, where there are 6,500 franchises on an island that may not have as much useable land as New Jersey.

  1. Not enough coffee

We understand that tea is part of the culture, but there should be more room for more coffee. It wasn’t prevalent at every event or meal — and, when it was, the serving sizes were way too small. One solution: Let 7-Eleven help. We’re guessing a Big Gulp of coffee would go a long way.