Farmers in the Carolina-Virginia region often think about Chinese markets for crops such as tobacco and cotton. But, with a growing economy and an upwardly mobile population, the Far East offers a potential for purchasing a wider diversity of crops as well. That includes horticulture, which North Carolina, as well as the rest of the Carolina-Virginia region, excels at producing.
North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler notes a trade delegation from China will be visiting western North Carolina between August 27-31 to get a look at possible horticulture products from the Tarheel State. The eight-person group will include representatives of landscape architecture and real estate firms, seed and flower importers, seedling suppliers and the Shanghai Institute of Technology. Most members of the delegation are located in or around Shanghai in eastern China.
Nurseries interested in international trade are invited to meet with the delegation during a reception at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville. For more information, contact Peter Thornton, assistant director for international marketing with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, at (919) 707-3153.
Western North Carolina is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world and is home to high-quality horticulture businesses, says Troxler, who will meet with the group.
"The Chinese team specifically requested to visit the region and get an introduction to its horticulture industry," Troxler says. "Playing host to these visitors gives North Carolina growers an opportunity to develop contacts with potential customers in China. As we've seen with other North Carolina commodities – notably tobacco, cotton and soybeans – building relationships with the Chinese can lead to growth in exports from our state."
The delegation's N.C. stop is part of a larger U.S. tour that includes field visits and a trade show in Oregon, and nursery visits in the Midwest.
U.S. exports of agricultural products to China totaled $17.5 billion in 2010, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.