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Idaho business leaders say they'll reap benefits from China trade mission

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Posted at 12:19 PM, Nov 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-15 15:42:17-05

Idaho business leaders who accompanied Governor “Butch” Otter on his recent trade mission to China are touting the trip as a success, and praised Otter for his efforts to stimulate trade between China and the Gem State.

“The interest we received in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou was a reflection of the great products and services we were promoting, along with the tremendous market potential that remains in China,” Otter said.

The trade mission, which ran from October 28th to November 5th, was coordinated by the Idaho Department of Commerce and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. The destination was selected by a survey of Idaho businesses.

Participants represented a variety of Idaho industry sectors including potatoes, wheat, dairy products, agricultural and temperature-controlled supply chain equipment, dietary supplements, personal care products, forage, animal feed and supplements, recreational vehicle sourcing services, and university research/international education.

“Personal relationships are an essential part of doing business in the Chinese market,” Otter pointed out. “We identified some excellent opportunities, and I look forward to seeing their future successes.”

Idaho’s exports to China totaled $560 million in 2015 -– up more than 16 percent from 2014, and making China the second-largest export market for Idaho. Year-to-date exports to China for 2016 are up more than 18 percent, officials said.

As for the Gem State’s agriculture industry, Idaho Potato Commission Vice President Seth Pemsler said, “Status and title mean everything. By introducing key prospects and customers to the Governor, who was gracious to take pictures with everyone that asked, we began the process of a relationship that leads to business success in China.” 

And Clark Hamilton of the Idaho Wheat Commission added, “It was a great experience for me to meet some of the customers that buy Idaho wheat, get better acquainted and have a chance to maintain and improve those relationships.”

Business leaders say they will likely see a lasting impact as a result of the trade meetings. Jos Zamzow, Chief Operating Officer for Catalyst, a division of Dynamite, said, “The trade mission to China was a huge success for our company! The state staff set up great meetings with new potential customers, helped us arrange to meet with our current customers, and even helped with the logistics. To top it all off, we got to have the Governor sit in on a meeting with one of our customers. His friendly, likable demeanor and tremendous experience really sealed the deal.”

Kirk Hansen, Kyäni Founder and Chairman of the Board, echoed with, “Governor Otter and the Idaho Commerce Department were able to open doors for us we would not have been able to open on our own. They helped arrange and participate in high-level government meetings in Beijing and Shanghai that will open doors for current and future success in the China market.”

Nick Proia, Vice President of Business Development at Kingston Fresh, noted his company made a number of valuable contacts. “While fresh Idaho potatoes are not currently permitted into China from the U.S., we need to continue to push for their acceptance, and we did that,” he said. “Our goals for gaining a deeper understanding of the market, engaging with potential importers, and evaluating opportunities for the products we currently export to other parts of the world were met. We are currently following up with each contact made -- in excess of twenty -- and are finalizing plans to return for additional meetings in the near future.”

“We learned a great deal about the market opportunity for us in China. We were successful in creating several new, valuable, business relationships with the companies we met,” said PakSense CEO David Oster.