During a week in September, a delegation from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam comprised of soybean buyers and processors attended a course at Northern Crops Institute (NCI) in Fargo, North Dakota. The course, Soybeans Procurement Management for Importers, is intended to enrich the participants’ understanding and knowledge of US soybean products, buying, and shipping.
The visitors were divided into groups based on their interests for separate tours of several soybean producers in North Dakota and Minnesota. The delegation’s trip was sponsored by NCI, the North Dakota Soybean Council, US Soybean Export Council, the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association, and the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.
NCI regularly hosts international visitors to exchange knowledge as well as promote US agriculture. In September of 2013, quality control and procurement managers from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam attended the South Asia Wheat Value Workshop. In October of 2013, NCI gave a soybean procurement course to buyers from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The same year, NCI Director Mark Weber and NCI Feed Center Manager Kim Koch made a trip to Southeast Asia to assess the technical and educational needs of their partners.
Exchange courses such as those held by NCI not only promote North Dakota’s agricultural products, but also strengthen industry standards. As local and international agricultural markets grow more interdependent, uniform industry standards will facilitate trade and protect the safety of consumers.
In 2013, North Dakota exported $49 million worth of soybeans and $110 million in wheat and meslin. Exports to Asia of oilseed and grains, which includes soybeans, were worth nearly $1.4 billion to the state in 2012. That year, 25% of the state’s goods exports and 29% of its services exports went to Asia.
At present, North Dakota’s largest trading partners are in North and South America. However, efforts at exchanging knowledge and creating stronger people-to-people ties with Asian nations could increase the volume of trade with Asia and open new markets for North Dakota’s exports.
Melissa Newcomb recently graduated from American University SIS and is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C.