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Idaho Gov. Otter to visit China to promote trade

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter will travel to China in June with other state officials and business leaders on a trade mission, an Idaho Department of Commerce official said.

Damien Bard, administrator of the department’s International Business Division, said 15 people will take part in the one-week trade mission that will begin June 4 and visit Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing.

He said the group will also promote Idaho as a location for Chinese businesses looking to expand to the United States as part of Otter’s Project 60 plan to grow the state’s economy to $60 billion by encouraging businesses to add more jobs.

“It’s a relatively new focus that goes hand-in-hand with the governor’s Project 60, which is partly aimed at bringing in more investment capital, ” Bard told The Times-News. “It’s just one of the aspects we are looking at to encourage job growth in Idaho.”

Otter took part in a previous trade mission to China in 2007, spending 11 days and making stops in Beijing, Harbin, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Trade attempts with China faltered with the economy the last several years, but state officials and industry leaders decided earlier this year the time was right to try again, Bard said.

Dave Curta is taking part in the trade mission.

“We’ve been doing business in China for several years, but these trade missions give us leverage with local government officials by bringing in our own government officials,” said Curta, manager of international operations for Davisco Foods, which owns and operates Jerome Cheese. “It’s always important in these places to show buyers that we are working well with both governments.”

He said Davisco wants to promote its ingredients for infant formula because Chinese incomes are increasing, and the company believes formula sales will grow as a result.

Idaho exports during the first quarter of 2010 were $1.22 billion, according to the Idaho Department of Commerce. The top export destinations for Idaho goods from January to March were Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Korea

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