Maryland Receives Visitors from South Africa and Japan
The month of March was a busy one for Maryland’s sister state programs.
The state hosted two delegations: one from the coastal South African province of KwaZulu-Natal on March 12, and the other from Japanese prefecture Kanagawa, which lies between Tokyo and Mount Fuji, on March 28.
At the first of these meetings, the Maryland-KwaZulu-Natal Sister State Committee facilitated a dialogue between the Maryland Department of Commerce (MDOC), local economic authorities in Baltimore, the South African Embassy, and the KwaZulu-Natal International Trade and Investment Office.
Dr. Jean Bailey, Chair of the Maryland-KwaZulu-Natal Sister State Committee, and Brian Castleberry, MDOC’s Regional Manager for Middle East and Africa, focused the discussion on how the sister states might collaborate on new business and investment opportunities.
Malose Letsoalo, Minister of Trade and Industry at the South African Embassy, expressed a particular interest in forging new connections between the states’ major ports. Durban, the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal province and the third-largest city in South Africa, is also home to the country’s largest industrial port. In Maryland, the Port of Baltimore is a crucial international port.
This sea-faring connection was the strong economic foundation for Maryland and KwaZulu-Natal sister state relationship forged in 2015, but today the relationship encompasses education and cultural exchanges, programs, and events. Past exchanges between the cities have focused on a variety of pressing local concerns such as substance abuse and a shortage of social workers.
Greeting Visitors from Japan
The second of Maryland’s international visits was a delegation from the Kanagawa local government, who met with officials from the University of Maryland in Baltimore (UMB) in late March. The two parties discussed potential opportunities for cooperation in biotechnology and the development of higher education technology systems.
While at the UMB, Kanagawa General Assembly members Makoto Kunimatsu, Hara Hideo, Yamaguchi Takahiro, and Moriya Haruhiko toured the Maryland Proton Treatment Center. The center is the first facility in the region to offer proton therapy to treat cancer. The delegates hoped to compare the system to Kanagawa’s own ion-beam Radiation Oncology Center. Afterwards, they joined the university’s president, Dr. Jay Perman, for a reception hosted by the Maryland-Kanagawa Sister State Committee.
Maryland and Kanagawa have been sister states since 1981, making it the American state’s second-oldest partnership. It focuses heavily on educational exchanges, with Japanese students visiting Annapolis once a year to meet with Maryland’s Secretary of State.
We’re looking forward to hearing more about the work of Maryland Sister States and their international partners!