US State of Michigan Strengthens Trade Ties with China

The US state of Michigan is looking to strengthen trading ties by, among other measures, increasing exports of agricultural products to the influential Asian country. Governor Rick Snyder, accompanied by a number of Michigan business people, as well as the director of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Jamie Clover Adams, is currently engaged in a ten day visit in China during which time the delegation will visit six major cities, with the focus being on increasing bilateral trade and attracting foreign investment to Michigan.

China’s rapidly expanding middle class is reportedly creating an unprecedented surge in demand for consumer goods, with American food products being high on the list of desirable items. It’s been reported that Michigan’s agricultural-related trade with China in 2011 amounted to $23.4 million, with dairy exports to China growing from $3 million in the year 2007, to around $7 million in 2011. Dried fruit exports to China accounted for up to $300,000 last year according to Ms Clover Adams. A representative of the Graceland Fruit Inc. – said to be the world’s largest single provider of dried fruits and vegetables – is among the business people in the visiting delegation. In a published statement, Graceland’s vice president of sales and marketing noted that the trade mission will fill a critical role in solidifying trade ties with importers, markets and China’s trade officials. Graceland Fruit products will be available in retail markets in Hong Kong and Beijing before the end of the year.

While China likely has the capacity to meet the needs of its domestic market, there is a huge demand for American goods, particularly products with an extended shelf-life, such as milk which does not require refrigeration. China’s recent spate of food safety issues has also resulted in an increase in demand for products from the United States, which consumers see as safer than their domestic products.

In a statement, Governor Snyder said that the state of Michigan will continue to build a “strong partnership with China, to create new trade and business opportunities”, going on to say that the trade mission will continue to put forward the case that “Michigan provides the most strategic location in North America for Chinese companies to expand.”