Nixon makes $4.4 billion farming export deal with China

Monday, October 24, 2011 | 7:08 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon announced a deal with Chinese officials Monday to "aggressively pursue and expedite the completion of export transactions to the People's Republic of China" totaling $4.4 billion, according to the official document.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade will work together to develop specific trade and investment activities.

The document outlines several obligations, including the exchange of information, the facilitation of "business matchmaking services" and the general advancement of "the promotion of trade and investment between the state of Missouri and the People's Republic of China."

Nixon, who's currently in Beijing, said he closed the deal during his trip despite the legislature's failure to agree on a St. Louis trade hub.

"The topic (of the China hub) came up a couple of times but not as a centerpiece of any of the agreements we were involved with," Nixon said.

The China hub bill, which Nixon included in his call for the special session, creates incentives for an international trade hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The bill has made little progress, though Nixon claims it would greatly expand trade with China.

The agreement "includes a specific emphasis on agriculture exports to Chinese consumers," according to a press release from Nixon's office. The agreement specifies $1.2 billion of exports will go to agricultural producers and $3.2 billion to manufacturers over the course of the initiative.

"Over the next three years, we will work closely with the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade to sell $4.4 billion of Missouri goods to China," Nixon said.

Missouri currently exports $987.4 million of products to China each year; according to Nixon's press release, exports will increase by more than $1 billion from 2012 to 2014.

The group that accompanied Nixon in China included representatives from agricultural groups, including the Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Pork Association, Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Beef Industry Council.

A recent trade flight from China was scheduled to land at Lambert last week, but Nixon said it was canceled for lack of cargo. The first two flights did not have issues with finding cargo. Nixon said he will meet with airport officials to discuss more details on the flight's cancellation.

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