COLUMBUS – As the saying goes, there is a first time for everything.
The Ohio Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff can certainly sing to this tune as it explores, for the first time ever, export opportunities in China with the establishment of an overseas office in Shanghai.
This business venture is a coordinated effort with the Ohio Department of Development’s International Trade Division.
Team effort. “Funding for this office will come from both Ohio Department of Development and Ohio Soybean Council,” said Amy Sigg Davis, council chairman and Warren County soybean farmer.
Half of the office’s resources will be devoted to promoting exports of Ohio manufacturers, service companies and agribusinesses, along with marketing Ohio as a location for direct investment in a variety of industries.
The other half of the office’s resources will be devoted to promoting exports of Ohio soybeans, along with marketing Ohio as a location for collaboration and direct investment that enhances the Ohio soybean industry.
Big potential. Plans for the new office emerged after members of the council traveled to China with Lt. Governor Johnson in December 2005 and witnessed the potential for Ohio soybean farmers in the market.
For U.S. soybeans alone, the export market to China has grown from $274 million in 1998 to $2.25 billion in 2005 and Johnson is confident that Ohio will benefit from its investment in this new international trade office.
“China is the largest export market for U.S. soybeans, in fact, in 2006 China accounted for 38 percent of total U.S. soybean exports,” said Davis. “This is a tremendous opportunity that Ohio soybean farmers should be excited about.”
Major exports. According to the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio exports in general to China have more than quadrupled since the late 1990s, rising from $231 million in 1998 to $934 million in 2005.
In addition to soybeans, major Ohio exports to China include machinery, automotive products, medical instruments and plastics.
While this is a first time Ohio Soybean Council has physically established a presence overseas, the Shanghai office is the 11th international trade office for the state of Ohio.
How it works. All of Ohio’s international trade offices are operated through ODOD’s International Trade Division and focus on promoting the exports of Ohio companies and marketing the state as a premier location for direct investment by foreign-owned firms.
Ohio’s international trade office in China will be established through a fee-for-services contract with an existing consulting firm in Shanghai.
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