Bond, McCaskill return to China for trade hub efforts
St. Louis Business Journal
August 26, 2010
By Kelsey Volkmann
Government, business and civic leaders, including U.S. Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., are heading back to Beijing and Shanghai as they continue efforts to forge economic ties with Chinese officials and executives and create new markets for Midwestern goods in China.
This week's Midwest-China Hub Commission trip is the latest of several trips local leaders have taken over the past two years on missions to create a trade hub with China at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Backers of these efforts have said they will know by the end of the year whether a trade hub will come to fruition.
The delegation will leave Saturday for a week-long trip and has arranged a host of meetings with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, China Air Transport Association, Chinese airlines, as well as government entities such as the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Development & Reform Commission, Shanghai Municipal Government and Shanghai Municipal Commission of Agriculture.
Meetings will focus on promoting connections with additional freight forwarders and following up on agreements signed between Missouri and Chinese business interests. In March, four Chinese airlines agreed to partner with the Midwest-China Hub Commission and Lambert on a feasibility study to assess the potential for opening St. Louis-China freight routes.
Historically, the majority of Asian investment and attention has been on the East and West coasts, with the Midwest viewed as a "fly-over" region. Exports from St. Louis in general have grown to $12 billion in 2008 from $10 billion in 2007, according to the Bureau of Economics.
"With the economy in the slump, now is exactly the right time to be expanding markets for Midwest products and opening up new opportunities for Missourians," Bond said in a statement Thursday.