Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is hoping a trade mission he will lead to China in April will expand the state’s already thriving relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.
Walker and leaders of the companies going with are looking to capitalize on China’s growing middle class by increasing exports of dairy products, ginseng and processed foods. Walker also seeks to attract more Chinese capital to invest in businesses at home.
The mission will be his first trip to the country, which is Wisconsin’s third-largest export market behind Canada and Mexico. The state moved nearly $1.5 billion in exports to China in 2012, up 12 percent from 2011 and 30 percent from five years earlier.
The 10-day, four-city trip starts April 12. Walker and others will meet with representatives from China’s agriculture, machinery, medical device and clean energy industries where demands are rising but technologies are lagging. Officials said Wisconsin products and services can help China fill the gap.
Many Chinese consumers know Wisconsin for its ginseng, which sells widely around the country. Fewer know the state as the home to multinational companies like Harley-Davidson Motor Company and A.O. Smith Corporation, which see opportunity for their motorcycles, water heaters and other products.
“A governor-led mission will open the door for our work,” said Lora Klenke, vice president of international development at Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. “It’s not just about sending our products and services in, but also about developing relationships with private investments and government funds that will invest in Wisconsin.”
Walker’s group will visit megacities including Beijing and Shanghai, and provincial capitals including Harbin and Hefei.