Gov. Jay Nixon visited St. Louis today to discuss the upcoming trade mission he will lead with Missouri business and agriculture leaders to the People's Republic of China from Oct. 21 to 29. As part of this mission, the state of Missouri and Chinese agencies and provinces will sign a series of agreements to sell billions of dollars of Missouri goods to China over the next three years. In addition, numerous Missouri businesses plan to close deals with Chinese customers during the trade mission.
Gov. Nixon discussed the mission during a visit to Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), which processes and distributes key agricultural products that become food, feed, fuel and industrial goods. Missouri agricultural products are a major focus of the trade mission.
In 2010, Missouri exported a total of $987.4 million in goods to China. Through August 2011, Missouri exports to China totaled nearly $773 million, an increase of more than 25 percent over the same period in 2010. China is Missouri's third-largest trading partner.
"From corn to chemicals and soybeans to steel, Missouri-made goods are in high demand around the globe," Gov. Nixon said. "When we sell Missouri products and agricultural goods overseas, we're creating new jobs and opportunities right here at home. From day one, my top priority has been to create jobs and move our economy forward, and expanding exports is an important part of our strategy to do just that. China is already a major export market for Missouri businesses, and this trade mission will ensure that Missouri exports to this nation continue to grow in the years to come."
Joining Gov. Nixon on the trade mission will be First Lady Georganne Nixon; David Kerr, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development; Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Dan Mehan, president and CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and senior representatives from the Beef Industry Council, U.S. Meat Exporters Federation, U.S. Grains Council, Missouri Corn Growers' Association, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Pork Association, the University of Missouri and the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association. Numerous Missouri exporters also will be part of the delegation, including Anheuser-Busch, Peabody Energy and Orscheln Products.
During the trade mission, Gov. Nixon is scheduled to meet personally with U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke; former Chinese Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong, whom Gov. and Mrs. Nixon have hosted at the Governor's Mansion; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Commerce Chen Deming; and additional ministers, provincial governors, regulators and business leaders.
The centerpiece of the trade mission will be a series of export agreements signed by Gov. Nixon's administration with Chinese trade and investment agencies. These agreements will significantly increase Missouri's exports to China from 2012 to 2014. The agreements will include Missouri agricultural products, manufactured goods, chemicals and other products. The final amounts of the trade agreements will be released once they have been signed. In addition, numerous Missouri businesses plan to finalize and sign trade agreements with Chinese customers during the mission.
The Governor will deliver remarks to the Chinese Investment Promotion Agency; the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing; the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai; the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade; and students at Shanghai Normal University.
In keeping with state practice, travel costs for Gov. and Mrs. Nixon will be covered by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in Missouri. Taxpayer funds will not be used to pay travel costs for the Governor or First Lady.
Gov. Nixon and the delegation will depart Missouri on Oct. 21 and arrive in Beijing on Oct. 22. On Oct. 25, the delegation will travel to Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, Missouri's sister state. On Oct. 26, the delegation will travel from Shijiazhuang to Shanghai. The delegation will return to Missouri on Oct. 29.
"As Missouri companies look to the future, it's clear that China will continue to become a more vital export market," said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a member of the trade delegation. "China holds huge growth potential for high-quality, reliable Missouri goods, but we must continue to work aggressively to forge relationships and establish a larger presence in this expanding market. We look forward to traveling to China with Gov. Nixon to sign these critical trade agreements that will help Missouri businesses increase their international sales and expand their operations back home."
"For St. Louis, it's clear that a big part of our economic future is an international one, and the importance of exporting to China and other Asian countries will only continue to grow, as will the opportunities to recruit new investment from these markets into the St. Louis region," said Steve Johnson, executive vice president, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, and a member of the trade delegation. "Our major employers are also major exporters, and we want to help more of our members gain a foothold in the international market. This trade mission will be an important opportunity for established and emerging St. Louis businesses to expand their relationships in the rapidly growing Chinese market."
"Missouri farmers feed, fuel and clothe the world, and we see real potential for continued growth in the Chinese market," said Don Nikodim, executive vice president of the Missouri Pork Association, chairman of Missouri Farmers Care and a member of the trade delegation. "Missouri farmers grow and raise the finest agricultural products in the world, and we want to ensure that our share of the international market continues to expand. This export agreement we'll sign on this trade mission will ensure that we do just that."
"Missouri soybeans are in demand by consumers around the world, and now is the time for us to take our international sales to the next level," said Ron Gibson, member of the Missouri Soybean Association board, who will be a member of the trade delegation. "Gov. Nixon's support during this trade mission will help ensure that ongoing growth. This significant trade agreement will help address the economic challenges we have faced for the past few years and will be a true boost for our industry."
"Stronger sales overseas will translate into better profits and expansion for our growers here at home," said Gary Wheeler, vice president of operations and grower services for the Missouri Corn Growers Association, and a member of the trade delegation. "We look forward to standing with Gov. Nixon and other commodity leaders to represent Missouri agriculture and our outstanding members to our customers in China."