Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
Last week, I led a trade mission to China that included stops in Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai. This was the 11th trade mission undertaken by my administration. We met with many company officials who have attended our previous two Reverse Trade Missions. Our goal was to expand opportunities for Nebraska companies already operating in China, to open new doors of opportunities for Nebraska companies exploring the China market and to attract Chinese companies that want to expand into the American market to locate in Nebraska.
Joining me was a diverse group of individuals representing Nebraska's outstanding manufacturers and service providers, industry representatives and educational professionals.
We had business leaders from Kimball, Hastings, Columbus, Deshler, Beatrice, Plattsmouth, Laurel, Chapman, Omaha and Lincoln. Each was looking to increase and expand their knowledge of China's economy and culture; to identify international trade and investment opportunities in China; and to strengthen existing relationships.
I met with several Chinese leaders including Vice Premier Wang, Shaanxi Province Governor Zhao and Shanghai Vice Mayor Chen. We had productive meetings with local and national government leaders, private business and industry professionals, and educational representatives.
There were several significant developments and announcements during the week we were in China. A key announcement was a new Nebraska trade office in Shanghai, in collaboration with the Shanghai Small to Medium Enterprise Center for International Cooperation. Five years ago, the Shanghai Small to Medium Enterprise Center brought 40 of their business members to Nebraska's First Reverse Trade Mission, expressing their interest in learning what Nebraska had to offer. Since then they have become one of our most important business development partners. When they approached us with a proposal to establish a presence in China, we were very honored.
A second key announcement was a letter of intent to create a Sister State relationship between Shaanxi Province and the State of Nebraska. This agreement will foster and promote the common development and prosperity of both Shaanxi Province and State of Nebraska. Our past few years, Nebraska and Shaanxi Province have developed strong economic, medical, cultural and educational ties.
Third, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the State of Nebraska signed a memorandum of understanding to re-affirm our commitment to working together to promote trade and investment activities, and business-to-business matchmaking.
I want to emphasize that developing business relationships in China takes time just like it does in America. Good business relationships develop and improve as you get to know each other, trust each other and become reliable partners.
For the past three years, Nebraska export growth to China has been more than 30% annually and China is now Nebraska's fourth largest trading partner. China's population is 1.3 billion people so the Chinese market has enormous potential for Nebraska companies.
I have been to China twice, in 2007 and in 2012. In 2008 and 2011, we held two Reverse Trade Missions in which more than 100 Chinese business leaders attended. The Nebraska-China relationship is just beginning and I am confident this will be a growing and improving relationship for many years to come.