Tuesday in China: Tobacco, soybean, cotton meetings

By on August 4, 2009

We had a busy day in China, with our group splitting up to cover three commodities: tobacco, soybeans and cotton.

I met with Commissioner Jiang Chenkeng, the head of China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, and several members of his staff.

Commissioner Jiang said his company is interested in high-quality leaf, and North Carolina farmers can certainly deliver that. (Like I always say, “When you want the best, it’s Got to Be NC!”) His company is interested in long-term planning and continuing to develop the relationship with North Carolina in a way that benefits us both.

It really was a great visit, and I came away from the meeting confident that North Carolina and China can strengthen our trade relationship for tobacco.

In the afternoon, we toured the Beijing Cigarette Factory, which produces about 20 billion cigarettes a year. Forty percent of Chinese production of American-blend cigarettes occurs at this factory.

Other members of our delegation visited an aquaculture research farm that is studying the use of soy protein concentrate as feed for several species of freshwater fish, including black carp. China is the world’s largest aquaculture producer, and researchers believe soy-based feed can hold the key to the sustainability of this industry.

More demand for soy-based fish and animal feeds could open up all sorts of opportunities for North Carolina soybean farmers. Our soybeans are higher in oil and protein than those grown in other U.S. states. Our port in Wilmington and ability to ship containerized soybeans give North Carolina a niche in the export business. Later this week, we’ll be promoting this at a soybean conference in Guangzhou with some of China’s largest soybean buyers.

Our cotton delegation also was busy today, meeting with officials from China Cotton Association, Sinocot and Chinatex. I am told they explored a variety of topics related to N.C. cotton and its future in the Chinese market.

This evening, we hosted a dinner for Chinese customers of North Carolina tobacco, soybeans, cotton and poultry. It was encouraging to see so many of our customers come out. My thanks to the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, N.C. Farm Bureau, N.C. Soybean Producers Association and Burley Stabilization Corp. for sponsoring the event.

Tomorrow, we leave Beijing for Kunming, which is in southwestern China. There I will sign an agreement of mutual understanding with agriculture officials from the Yunnan Province. I’m very interested in seeing this province, because it produces a lot of the same commodities we do in North Carolina.

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