Cornhusker State opens trade office in Shanghai

Updated: 2013-03-19 10:59

By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily)

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Cornhusker State opens trade office in Shanghai

China's hunger for corn, soybeans and meat from Nebraska makes it the Cornhusker State's fourth-largest international trading partner and now home to the state's second overseas trade office.

Governor Dave Heineman announced on Monday that the Nebraska Center China, was opened in Shanghai. "By opening this trade office, we are expanding our international trade efforts," he said in a statement.

Nebraska's exports to China totaled more than $380 million in 2012, up from nearly $279 million in 2010. "With more growth opportunities predicted for Nebraska agribusiness in China, the time is right for this new office," Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said in a statement.

The Shanghai center will provide companies from Nebraska with business counseling, product promotion, assistance in identifying potential business partners and trade show representation. In 2006, Heineman opened a similar center in Tokyo.

About 50 percent of Nebraska's exports are agriculture-related products and represented about $3.8 billion in 2011, according to the most recent data available. International trade directly supports 30,700 state jobs, according to the Nebraska Center China website. As of January, Nebraska had a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, the second-lowest in the nation after North Dakota.

The trade office will also actively seek more Chinese investment in Nebraska, which is also interested in developing trade in alternative energy and water technology.

Five Chinese companies recently announced plans to establish US headquarters in Nebraska, including Shanghai Liuhe Qinqiang Food Co, which focuses on meat exports to China.

The Paulson Institute, a non-partisan organization with an office in Beijing that promotes economic growth in China, will assist Nebraska in its value-added agriculture exports.

Grace Gui will be executive director of the trade office in Shanghai. Gui worked for four years with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, and then moved to the US.

She lived in Omaha where she served as system administrator and senior database administrator for Staples from 2001 to last year.

Since taking office in 2005, the Republican governor has held two reverse trade missions and hosted more than 100 Chinese business leaders in Nebraska. Another reverse trade mission is scheduled to occur later this year.

Although Nebraska native business mogul Warren Buffett helps put the state's name on Chinese investors' radar, Heineman said last year that Nebraska itself is attractive because it offers low-cost energy, a business-friendly tax environment and the ability to transport goods anywhere in the US in 48 hours due to its central location.

"If China and America are strong, the world's going to be. Economically, we need to be connected, and we need to have a strong relationship," Heineman said. "In my state, we would like to do our part."