Gov. Dave Heineman today officially opened Nebraska's first trade office in China. The Nebraska Center China will be a vital element in the continuing development of Nebraska-China relations. Government officials and business leaders on both sides of the world joined together via technology to celebrate the opening of the state's newest international trade office.
"Today is a historic day in Nebraska-China relations," said Gov. Dave Heineman. "By opening this trade office, we are expanding our international trade efforts. We are letting China's business leaders know that Nebraska is open for business. Relationships are essential for building business in Asia, and having both an office in China and Japan shows our commitment to these growing economies."
Governor Dave Heineman hosted the news conference from Lincoln's Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) studios while Catherine Lang, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, and invited guests appeared live in Shanghai.
One of the key growth areas between Nebraska and China is value-added agriculture exports. Supporting this will be Nebraska's partnership in the Paulson Institute, a non-partisan institution that promotes sustainable economic growth with China, especially in the areas of value added exports and Chinese investment in the U.S.
"This is our second international trade office focused on foreign direct investment and attraction," said Catherine Lang, Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. "Having this presence will expand existing and develop new relationships with China for Nebraska's economic growth."
"With more growth opportunities predicted for Nebraska agribusiness in China, the time is right for this new office," said Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach. "From commodities to
equipment Nebraska ag goods are in demand and this office will provide a way to facilitate such opportunities."
Among the attendees in China were Grace Gui, newly-named executive director of the Nebraska Center China. Gui, most recently lived with her family in Omaha, where she served as system administrator and senior database administrator for Staples from 2001-2012. In addition, she earned a Masters of Business Administration and Information Technology Management degrees from Creighton University in 2000. Gui's Bachelor of Economics Degree in International
Finance was earned from East China Normal University, in Shanghai in 1992. Following graduation, she worked for Shanghai Pudong Development Bank until 1996 when she then moved to the United States.
Also joining Lang was Robert Cai, director of the Shanghai Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Center for International Cooperation, a Chinese trade organization partner in the office, in addition to other U.S. and Chinese partners. The SME Center is similar to a large international chamber of commerce, with more than 300,000 members active in international trade and investment.
The SME Center has been an economic development partner in China since signing a memorandum of understanding during Nebraska's first Reverse Trade Mission in 2008. Since that time, SME has introduced many Shanghai area companies to Nebraska to look at trade and investment opportunities.
The Nebraska Center in China represents a gateway for Nebraska companies entering and expanding in China. Services will include business counseling related to all markets, the promotion of products and services, assistance with identifying potential business partners and cultivating customers, trade show representation, and access to key communications channels. The Center also will concentrate on attracting more Chinese investment to Nebraska.
The city of Shanghai is a key economic trade center for China with direct flights from Chicago and other major U.S. cities. With a population of more than 23 million and a gross domestic product of $297 billion, it is larger than many countries with which Nebraska conducts business. Another key reason for locating the office there is the state's relationship with the SME Center.
China represents Nebraska's fourth largest trading partner and one of its fastest growing markets, having more than doubled during the past five years--and increasing 36 percent in 2011 alone. Combined exports totaled more than $380 million last year, up from nearly $279 million in 2010.
Additionally, Nebraska is linked with "sister" Shaanxi Province and Guizhou Province, with investments from companies headquartered in Jiangsu, Shanghai and Shaanxi provinces. Omaha is sister city with Yantai in China.
This will be the second overseas trade office Gov. Heineman has established. In 2006, the Governor opened the Nebraska Center - Tokyo, which has been a key partner to the Department of Economic Development in recruiting Japanese companies and helping Nebraska companies do business in Japan.