Some Far East influence: Team dubs North Dakota trade mission to Vietnam a success

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – A trade team from North Dakota is heading home today after what participants are calling successful visits to Indonesia and Vietnam.

One member of the group, Beverly Flaten of JM Grain, Garrison, said buyers were very receptive to North Dakota products.

“There were several ready to sign a contract today,” Flaten said Tuesday during a phone conference from Ho Chi Minh City.

Flaten said JM Grain will have to do a little more backgrounding on potential buyers before any contracts are signed, but she said the trip convinced her such efforts are effective in establishing business contacts in distant markets.

“It has to be one-on-one across the table,” she said.

The trade group includes representatives from other North Dakota companies, higher education and the state trade and agriculture offices.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said the group encountered deep interest in feed grains and curiosity about North Dakota was high wherever they stopped.

At one reception, the Indonesian ambassador expressed puzzlement over the presence of Cherrington Enterprises, a maker of beach-cleaning equipment in Jamestown.

“I said, ‘Who better?’ We don’t live on a beach, but we know what they should look like when we get there,” said Mark Johnson, director of international marketing for the North Dakota Trade Office.

“He (the ambassador) thought that was actually pretty profound,” Johnson added.

Trade office officials say Vietnam has grown from being North Dakota’s 50th largest trading partner 10 years ago to No. 15 today.

Indonesia more than doubled its North Dakota imports in recent years, according to the trade office.

In many cases, Canada is North Dakota’s largest competitor in Southeast Asia, said Goehring, who added that while countries are looking for low-cost products, the high quality of North Dakota goods keeps the state competitive.

“What we’re trying to do is showcase the high-quality products and how they (processors) can get by using less of it and turn a bigger profit,” Goehring said.

“They are buying a lot of lower-quality products from other countries,” he said. “If they can buy some higher-quality product, they would have the opportunity to blend that out.”

The North Dakota Trade Office organizes trade missions and charges participating companies a fee that covers travel costs for trade office staff and government officials, amongst other costs.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555. Reporter Teri Finneman contributed to this report.

Tags: business, agriculture

BlinkList Google Bookmarks reddit Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Buzz DesignFloat Delicious Furl Digg