Idaho Governor Otter returned from a trade mission to China last month, which covered stops in three major cities: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Business leaders accompanied the governor on his 8-day trip and have claimed the mission a success. Governor Otter has also expressed his excitement to announce resulting deals in the near future.
Food manufactures and agricultural products accounted for nearly 11% of Idaho’s total exports to China last year, valued at $60 million. Still, industry experts believe the Chinese market has the potential for further growth. As such, representatives from Idaho’s dairy, potato, wheat, and hay industries accompanied the governor on his visit. Now in his third term, Governor Otter has been to Asia five times for trade-related missions, though this trip was his first to China since 2012. Both government officials and companies part of the delegation hailed Governor Otter’s 2012 trade mission a success. The company BioTracking closed its first sale in China during the trip and attributed the deal to the governor’s 2010 and 2012 trade missions.
The Gem State’s trade ties to China have grown considerably in recent years. China became the state’s second largest export market last year, with total exports valued around $561 million. Between 2010 and 2015, the value of Idaho’s exports to China increased over $100 million. Computer and electronic products compose the vast majority of the state’s exports to China; in 2015, over 80% of exports to the country fell within this category.
Idaho is just one state to benefit from governor-led trade missions to Asia. In mid-October, Arkansas Governor Hutchinson led a trade mission to China and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Suzhou Tianyuan Garments Company. The apparel manufacturer will invest $20 million and create 400 jobs for the state. Governors from a range of states, including Texas, Virginia, and Montana, have traveled to Asia in recent years to promote state commodities, finalize deals, and attract foreign investors.
Stephanie Gill is a Research Intern at the East-West Center Washington and a student at the George Washington University.