Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman and Kansas Secretary of Commerce Pat George concluded a week-long trade mission that took them to multiple regions of China promoting various sectors of the Kansas economy and meeting with Chinese governmental and business leaders to develop strategic partnerships to benefit both Kansas and China.
"Kansas is a recognized and trusted leader in agriculture in the United States, and with or without this trip, that is a role I am confident would continue domestically," Governor Brownback said. "But the reality is we live in a global marketplace. In order for Kansas to be competitive today and in the future in the global economy, we must develop strategic relationships with key trading partners, including China."
After spending two days in Beijing meeting with national leaders, including State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Zhang Laiwu, Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping, Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang and with various private business leaders, including Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin and COFCO Chairman Ning Gaoning, the delegation traveled to Zhengzhou, capitol of the Henan Province. The Wanda Group acquired AMC Theaters, headquartered in Kansas, and immediately grown its Kansas employee base. COFCO is the largest food processor, manufacturer and trader in China and has done business with the United States for more than 60 years.
Immediately after arriving in Zhengzhou, Governor Brownback was greeted by Henan Governor Xie Fuzhan. After a brief meeting between the two governors, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further promote the bilateral relationship between Kansas and Henan and promote increased partnership in the areas of modern agriculture and food safety. As part of the
MOU, a U.S.-China Modern Agriculture and Food Safety Collaboration Platform will be initiated by Kansas and Henan to develop strategic partnerships to promote plant health, animal health and human health. According to the MOU, both Henan and Kansas will work on projects related to agriculture, food safety and bioscience encompassing commercialization, education, extension, research and investment.
Following the MOU signing, the Kansas delegation met with provincial government and business leaders to discuss potential project areas to move forward with under the MOU. Governor Brownback said the meetings began well and said he expects increased dialogue between both the state and province in the near future to further develop this strategic partnership.
"Over the past 30 years, there have been multiple good-will missions and exchanges between Kansas and our sister province in Henan, but signing this MOU is a major step forward in further solidifying that partnership and opening up the doors to economic growth potential to benefit both Kansas and Henan," Gov. Brownback said. "This is the beginning of a long-term process for Kansas and Henan to work together on initiatives to benefit both Kansas and Henan. Additionally, this MOU sets a precedent for the type of strategic relationships we must look to develop with other trading partners around the globe."
The final leg of the trip was a stop in Guangzhou, capitol of Guangdong Province. While in Guangzhou, Governor Brownback met with Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan. Additionally, the delegation met with Consul General Jennifer Galt, U.S. Consulate Office, and participated in a roundtable discussion, hosted by the South China American Chamber of Commerce, with private business leaders from Guangdong.
"From my first visit to China in the 1980s to this visit, the development and progress China has made is tremendous. As this growing nation continues developing, Kansas will be a proud partner," Brownback said. "The rapid growth in China and in other developing nations will create a middle class whose consumer demands will drive the global economy. This trade mission will result in a joint partnership to help meet those needs and provide benefit to both Kansas and Henan. This is just the first step in developing this strategic partnership with Henan but I am confident Kansas and Henan will work together to benefit our regions, our nations and our people."
A portion of this mission was made possible by Kansas' participation in the State Trade and Export Promotion program - a two-year pilot program funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration.