Minnesota outpost in Shanghai

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 14, 2012 - 10:26 PM

The office aims to secure more jobs, exports.

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Shanghai’s historic riverfront district. Minnesota officials are hoping that more Minnesota companies will to join the Western names that have already made inroads in the Chinese market. In 2011, China bought $2.3 billion worth of Minnesota-made machinery, plastics, meats, grains and other goods. That’s triple what it bought just eight years ago.

Photo: Qilai Shen, New York times

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In the name of boosting Minnesota jobs and exports, the Minnesota Trade Office and Greater MSP opened a joint office in Shanghai this week.

If successful, the new effort in Shanghai will deepen ties with Chinese business and government leaders and lead to more contracts with Minnesota manufacturers, agricultural firms and universities.

Gov. Mark Dayton and 50 trade delegates from across the state were on hand for the official ribbon-cutting celebration, which took place during the 10-day trade mission to China.

During the unveiling, Greater MSP CEO Michael Langley noted that state officials want to create 100,000 new jobs in the Twin Cities by 2016.

"We see [the] MSP China Center's role in developing relationships with Chinese companies as an integral component in that growth," Langley said. "We are excited to more actively engage with the China market and believe that our region's strengths will greatly benefit our Chinese partners while continuing to stimulate our regional economy."

Dayton said in a statement that he was pleased that the state and Greater MSP, a privately held Twin Cities marketing group, are working together "to expand the economic relationship between Minnesota and China. I know that there will be great accomplishments achieved by this partnership in the years ahead."

State's No. 2 trading partner

China is already a major player in the state's economy.

In 2011, the nation bought $2.3 billion worth of Minnesota-made machinery, plastics, meats, grains and other goods. That's triple what it bought just eight years ago and makes China the state's second-largest trading partner behind Canada.

Still officials hope those numbers keep rising.

The enhanced efforts to woo Chinese trade comes at a time when China's economy is slowing. Chinese leaders announced that gross domestic product is expected to grow about 7.5 percent this year, down from the double-digit growth the nation enjoyed for several years.

Still, Wells Fargo & Co. senior economist Scott Anderson noted that U.S. GDP only grew 1.9 percent in the first quarter. "So, at 7.5 percent, what is a disaster for China would be a blessing for other countries," Anderson said. "So you have to keep this in perspective."

Minnesota Trade Office Director Katie Clark said in previous interviews with the Star Tribune that the state will make every effort to help Minnesota-based companies tap markets in China and other countries. Right now, most of Minnesota's 19 U.S. Fortune 500 companies do some form of business in China.

Companies on this week's trade mission to China include 3M, Medtronic, Best Buy, WindRider, JetEdge and a wide array of agricultural trade associations and universities.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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