Michigan Ag Department Leads Trade Mission to China

November trip will continue in spite of tariff challenges


The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will conduct its annual trade mission to China in November, despite tensions between the United States and China over trade tariffs.

This year the department will take Michigan food and agriculture companies to three cities to better understand the Chinese market and meet with buyers interested in Michigan products, according to an MDARD news release.

Jamie Zmitko-Somers, MDARD deputy director leading the department’s economic development and international team, said although the Chinese government has initiated a ban on agriculture products imported from the United States, the prohibition only applies to companies owned by the government,

“Private buyers are still able to make purchases from the United States,” Zmitko-Somers said.

China is Michigan’s fifth largest export market for food and agriculture products, with $124 million of Michigan commodities going to Chinese markets in 2018. China’s expanding economy and increased disposable income, added to the population of 1.4 billion people, produce a strong demand for food and beverage products from the U.S., according to the release.

Zmitko-Somers explained commodities that will be the focus of the trip depends on what companies sign up for the mission, which has a $750 price tag.

“Previously the trade mission has had a focus on fruit products – cherries, blueberries, apples and cranberries,” she said. “The fruit can come in many forms, like canned or dried or frozen, which produce good opportunities in this market. We are specifically targeting the middle class, where they an incorporate new products as ingredients in their food. They are always looking for new and different products.”

 Zmitko-Somers said the trade mission aims to connect Michigan companies that have not participated in a Chinese trade mission – this is MDARD’s fourth such trip – with new markets, and reacquaint companies that have participated in the past with Chinese buyers. The trip will take participants to Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shanghai, which she described as second-tier cities that may just now be purchasing U.S. imports.

The trade mission will take place Nov. 8-12, and the deadline for registration is Sept. 4. To register, visit https://miagexport.com/events/view/24/or contact Allie Fox VanDriel at (517) 284-5737 or via email at FoxA1@michigan.gov.



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