Nebraska Gov. Ricketts to visit China for trade mission

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Farm Forum

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Gov. Pete Ricketts will lead a delegation to China later this year to promote business relationships with Nebraska’s fourth-largest trading partner, the governor announced on May 24.

The group will include representatives from the Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development and Nebraska businesses that want to expand into global markets. Members will travel to Xi’an, Shanghai and Hong Kong on Nov. 9-15.

The delegation will meet with Chinese business leaders as well as government and academic officials. Members will participate in the nation’s premier agricultural fair, the China Yanling Agricultural Hi-Tech Fair, which is expected to draw 1.6 million visitors over five days.

Nebraska opened a trade office in Shanghai in 2013, and former Gov. Dave Heineman visited China for a trade mission in 2012. Ricketts said returning to the country is important because the Chinese place a heavy emphasis on developing relationships with their trading partners.

“It takes a long time to develop those relationships,” Ricketts said. “It’s just not something that’s done the first time you show up. And so we need to continually go back there, let them know that these are the people you can deal with in Nebraska, that they can be trusted.”

Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Courtney Dentlinger the mission is intended to help small and mid-sized businesses break into a market where they may feel intimidated. About 50 people have expressed interest in joining the trip so far. Dentlinger said her department is still accepting requests from companies that want to join the trip.

State officials will also discuss ways to help Nebraska’s agricultural producers gain access to Asian markets, said Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Hong Kong has grown into one of the top export destinations for Nebraska beef, and the nation as a whole remains a major consumer of the state’s agricultural products.

“We need to continue to have those conversations, to continue to ask for their business,” Ibach said.

Ibach said the missions help promote Nebraska to businesses that aren’t familiar with the state.

“When most people from outside of the United States think about the United States, they think about California or New York,” he said. “They’re thinking about the coasts. The big agricultural heartland is a mystery to them.”

Ricketts has previously led trade missions to Europe and Japan. Members of the delegation must pay their own way.