Gov. Heineman Opens Nebraska's First China Trade Office


Gov. DaveHeineman officially opened Nebraska's first trade office in China on Monday. TheNebraska Center in China will be a vital element in the continuing development ofNebraska-China relations.

Government officials and business leaders on bothsides of the world joined together via technology to celebrate the opening ofthe state's newest international trade office.

"Today is ahistoric day in Nebraska-China relations," said Heineman. "By openingthis trade office, we are expanding our international trade efforts. We areletting China's business leaders know that Nebraska is open for business.Relationships are essential for building business in Asia, and having both anoffice in China and Japan shows our commitment to these growing economies."

The governor hosted the news conference from Lincoln's Nebraska EducationalTelecommunications (NET) studios while Catherine Lang, director of the NebraskaDepartment of Economic Development, and invited guests appeared live in Shanghai.

One of the key growth areasbetween Nebraska and China is value-added agriculture exports. Supporting thiswill be Nebraska's partnership in the Paulson Institute, a non-partisaninstitution that promotes sustainable economic growth with China, especially inthe areas of value added exports and Chinese investment in the U.S.

"This is our second international trade office focusedon foreign direct investment and attraction," said Lang. "Having thispresence will expand existing and develop new relationships with China forNebraska's economic growth."

"With more growth opportunitiespredicted for Nebraska agribusiness in China, the time is right for this newoffice," said Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach. "From commodities to equipment, Nebraska ag goods arein demand and this office will provide a way to facilitate such opportunities."

Among theattendees in China were Grace Gui, newly-named executive director of the NebraskaCenter China. Gui, most recently lived with her family in Omaha, where sheserved as system administrator and senior database administrator for Staplesfrom 2001-2012.

In addition, she earned a Masters of Business Administrationand Information Technology Management degrees from Creighton University in2000. Gui's Bachelor of Economics Degree in International Finance wasearned from East China Normal University, in Shanghai in 1992. Followinggraduation, she worked for Shanghai Pudong Development Bank until 1996 when shethen moved to the United States.

Also joiningLang was Robert Cai, director of the Shanghai Small and Medium Enterprises(SME) Center for International Cooperation, a Chinese trade organizationpartner in the office, in addition to other U.S. and Chinese partners. The SMECenter is similar to a large international chamber of commerce, with more than300,000 members active in international trade and investment.

The SME Centerhas been an economic development partner in China since signing a memorandum ofunderstanding during Nebraska's first Reverse Trade Mission in 2008. Since thattime, SME has introduced many Shanghai area companies to Nebraska to look attrade and investment opportunities.

The NebraskaCenter in China represents a gateway for Nebraska companies entering andexpanding in China. Services will include business counseling related to allmarkets, the promotion of products and services, assistance with identifyingpotential business partners and cultivating customers, trade showrepresentation, and access to key communications channels. The Center also will concentrate onattracting more Chinese investment to Nebraska.

The city ofShanghai is a key economic trade center for China with direct flights fromChicago and other major U.S. cities. With a population of more than 23 millionand a gross domestic product of $297 billion, it is larger than many countrieswith which Nebraska conducts business. Another key reason for locating theoffice there is the state's relationship with the SME Center.

China representsNebraska's fourth largest trading partner and one of its fastest growingmarkets, having more than doubled during the past five years--and increasing 36percent in 2011 alone. Combined exports totaled more than $380 million lastyear, up from nearly $279 million in 2010.

Additionally,Nebraska is linked with "sister" Shaanxi Province and Guizhou Province, withinvestments from companies headquartered in Jiangsu, Shanghai and Shaanxiprovinces. Omaha is sister city with Yantai in China.

This will be thesecond overseas trade office Heineman has established. In 2006, the governor opened the Nebraska Center - Tokyo, which has been a key partner to theDepartment of Economic Development in recruiting Japanese companies and helpingNebraska companies do business in Japan.

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Courtesy - Gov. Dave Heineman's Office