Delegates Sought for June Trade Mission to China

The Minnesota Trade Office is now accepting applications for a summer trade mission to China-Minnesota's second-largest export market and an important trade partner for the state.

Delegates are being sought for a summer trade mission to China that will be led by Governor Mark Dayton.

The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) said Friday that it's accepting applications for the trip, scheduled for June 8 to 17. Delegates will travel with Dayton to Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian, to meet with high-ranking business leaders and government officials, attend networking events, and explore trade and investment opportunities.

China is already an important trade partner for Minnesota. The state's manufacturers exported $1.8 billion in products to the country in 2010-representing a 45 percent increase over the prior year. In 2010, the state's three largest exports to China were machinery, of which $506 million worth was sold; computers and electronics, of which $442 million worth was sold; and paper, of which $162 million worth was sold.

Another $1.35 billion in agricultural commodities and related food products were sold to China in 2010, accounting for 27 percent of Minnesota's agricultural exports that year. Minnesota's agricultural exports to China have jumped 800 percent in the past decade.

“China is the most populous country in the world and Minnesota's second-largest export market,” MTO Executive Director Katie Clark said in a statement. “Governor Dayton's leadership on this trade mission will open doors for Minnesota businesses, agriculture producers, tourism, and higher education institutions.”

Minnesota-manufactured export data for full-year 2011 haven't yet been released. But in the third quarter of last year, $549 million worth of goods were shipped to China, representing a 12 percent jump from the same period in 2010.

Many Minnesota companies conduct business in China; some of the bigger names include 3M, Cargill, St. Jude Medical, Target, General Mills, and Medtronic.

According to the MTO, the mission presents a chance to gain market knowledge and business contacts, and to identify opportunities to increase exports and attract investment. The mission also will allow Minnesota to support its existing business in China and promote the state as a great place to do business.

During the trade mission, Dayton and the delegation will travel to Xian to celebrate Minnesota's 30th anniversary of its sister-state relationship with the Shaanxi province. In April 2011, the governor of that province traveled to Minnesota with a delegation of his economic advisers. According to the MTO, the governors have developed a strong relationship and are looking to advance economic interests between the two regions.

The China trade mission is expected to cost between $7,500 and $8,000 per person, which includes round-trip airfare, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, mission events, and in-country assistance from the MTO. Small businesses that are accepted for the mission will be eligible for reduced fees through a program that's administered by the MTO and funded, in part, by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The application deadline for the summer trip is March 15. Click here for application materials and other details.

The trip will be Dayton's second major trade mission to Asia. Last year, he led a trade mission to the Republic of Korea that included a visit to Japan.