Nearly 70 people are going on the Nebraska Department of Economic Development-led trade mission to China Nov. 9-15.
While it will be a mix of agriculture and business interests, state officials will have a specific focus on selling beef and pork.
Greg Ibach, Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture director, who is leading the agricultural delegation on the trip, spoke about prospects in China during a recent visit to France and says those talks left him feeling optimistic.
“When we were meeting with the largest meat importer to China, they felt that China could represent a volume equivalent to what Japan represents right now in very rapid fashion,” Ibach told reporters at a recent news conference.
Nebraska’s beef exports to Japan in 2014 reached $276 million.
To preare for China’s inevitable purchase of U.S. beef, Nebraska officials are working closely with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
“To make sure we’re understanding how negotiations are developing,” Ibach explains, “so that we’re ready and able to take advantage of the opportunity when it does happen.”
Governor Pete Ricketts says the growing middle class in China will want the state’s beef.
“You see the demand, worldwide, for Nebraska beef,” Ricketts says. “We’ve got a great case to make to them that people in China are going to want these products just like the people in Europe want them.”
More than a dozen Nebraska businesses will be represented on the trade mission.
Among them are executives from PayPal and Werner Enterprises.
Craig Stoffel, Werner Enterprises vice president for global logistics, says those visiting China for the first time should keep an open mind.
“Really look at what’s going to be important to you and the advice around aligning yourself with folks who have struggled through it and who have been there-done that is important,” Stoffel tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Go with trusted partners and do a lot of due diligence and vetting of who you’re going to work with.”
Stoffel says building relationships with Nebraskans who do business in China will help avoid some growing pains.
“The law says one thing, but you can really do another – just as an ease of doing business practice – don’t fall into that trap,” he cautions. “You have to stay legitimate in every way you can.”
Stoffel says the state has many international resources and connections that can help new ventures succeed.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports on selling Nebraska beef to China [:38]