Associated Press, 02.09.09, 12:10 PM EST
North Dakota's Agriculture Department is organizing another trade
mission to Cuba, while two companies in the state will be taking part in
a trade trip to China.
Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said the Cuba trip will coincide
with the International Trade Fair Havana, Nov. 2-7.
"Since this trade show is where Cuba makes its food purchases for the
entire year, it is important for North Dakota to have a strong
presence," he said.
Johnson, who has led eight trade missions to Havana, has long advocated
for more open travel and trade between the U.S. and Cuba, a communist
island nation in the Caribbean.
"We hope that the new administration in Washington will ease or even
lift many of the heavy-handed trade restrictions that have slowed or
blocked exports of U.S. agricultural products," he said.
Johnson said companies interested in going on the trip should contact
the department's marketing specialist, Stephanie Sinner.
Sinner also will help lead the group going to China. That trade mission,
Feb. 15-19, is organized through the Food Export Association of the
Midwest USA, a nonprofit group that helps companies promote food and
farm products in foreign markets.
The state-owned North Dakota Mill in Grand Forks and the Jamestown-based
Dakota Pride Cooperative are among nine Midwestern companies that will
be represented on the China trip.
"This is an important opportunity for these companies to expand their
presence in what is becoming one of the world's most important food
markets," Johnson said.
Officials on the trade mission will meet with buyers and government
officials in Shanghai, Dalian and Beijing. The agenda also includes
supermarket tours and chef demonstrations to show prospective buyers how
U.S. products are used in prepared dishes.