Asia bound

September 5, 2009 

Governor Perdue plans a trip to Japan and China, hunting up trade prospects for the Tar Heel State. With the state budget on life-support, should she turn in her ticket?

If she's going only to show the North Carolina flag, yes. But if the two-week trip in October to Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai is well-prepared and peppered with realistic business possibilities, the estimated $82,000 cost to taxpayers -- Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco is going too, along with others -- will be worth it.

It's impossible to draw direct connections, but past forays abroad by state officials may well have played a part in causing foreign-based companies to set up shop here. If so, the trips rank as a net plus. In addition, trade with Japan and China is said to produce jobs for 20,000 North Carolinians. Increasing trade and luring more foreign firms -- based on our attractiveness as a place to do business, not our "incentives" -- are worth the plane fare.

Now, about the trip's cost -- the taxpayers of this state have been revolted in recent years, rightly so, by excessive costs incurred on some official travel abroad. On this trip to two of the safest countries in the world, let there be no over-the-top security measures, no inflated limousine-rental bills and no grand hotel rooms. If champagne corks are popping, let the hosts buy the bottles.

Our governor should spend what it takes to travel with dignity and in reasonable comfort, and surely she doesn't have to stay at the Bedbug Inn -- but keeping a sharp eye on expenses is vital. Other sharp eyes will be watching, no doubt. The most important bottom line, however, is the one marked Results.

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