JEFFERSON CITY — The $600 million trade deal with Taiwan is still on the table, Gov. Jay Nixon said at a press conference Thursday. The governor said he plans to reschedule the canceled business trip involving the sale of Missouri products to Taiwan.
Nixon also told reporters that, unlike Pres. Barack Obama, he does not plan to make changes to his agenda despite Republican congressional victories. The announcements were part of Nixon's first open press conference since the November elections.
Nixon canceled the trip to Taiwan and South Korea last Friday, citing "travel challenges." On the trip, he was expected to sign a letter of intent for a trade deal worth $600 million to Missouri over the next five years.
At the conference, Nixon said tension between China and Taiwan played a role in the decision to cancel, but that he intends to seal the deal when he reschedules the trip.
"I think it's important to know we will continue to work with our partners to reschedule this trade mission," he said. "I value the relationships we have and the growing opportunities we have with both Taiwan and Korea. I think we have other opportunities also, be they in Asia, Europe or South America."
China contests the legal existence of Taiwan, which it considers part of its country. A trade deal with Taiwan could affect Chinese leaders' interest in using Lambert-St. Louis International Airport as a trade hub with the country.
"We've been navigating the issues between those various countries for some period of time, and during this process of planning and putting together the trade mission to Taiwan and Korea we certainly talked to a number of folks that are involved in trying to expand our efforts in China, specifically the folks at the China hub," Nixon said.
Nixon also talked about his strategy for the upcoming legislative session. Republicans make up two-thirds of the Senate and have a super-majority in the House — in fact, the largest number in the General Assembly since the formation of the Republican party.
Although Obama proposed a bipartisan tax cut compromise with Republicans in Congress earlier this week, the governor ruled out a similar move in regard to the state legislature.
"The federal government seems like it's almost gotten "parliamentarized," where folks sometimes seem like they're more loyal to their party than to their district or to their causes," Nixon said. "I think we've been able to keep folks focused on the needs of Missourians here, and I hope to do that in the future."
Nixon said he plans to continue employing the middle-of-the-road approach to politics he has used in the past, rather than changing his strategy.
"I have managed to work my way through with folks on the other side of the aisle. I mean, we're all Missourians," he said. "The folks that got elected are from the same districts that people were from before, they represent the same people. I treat the legislature with great respect."
Meanwhile, incoming House Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, expressed disappointment just last week that the governor had yet to call and offer congratulations.
Nixon said his top priority for the legislative session was creating jobs and stimulating the economy — a goal that echoes that of leaders from both parties in the House and Senate.