PORTLAND, Ore. Agriculture officials from 11 Western states, including Utah, plan to visit China next week to dedicate a center they hope will sell more high-value goods such as steak and wine to an expanding Chinese middle class.
Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Agriculture Department, said Wednesday that the 20-acre center in the coastal city Zhuhai will house Chinese companies dealing in perishable food, testing laboratories, and display space and warehouse capacity for American goods.
She says the center also can test Chinese exports.
The Oregon department said Wednesday the delegation will include Coba's counterparts from Washington, California, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado and marketing officials from Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii.
Bruce Pokarney, a spokesman for the Oregon department, said the center is expected to be in operation later this year.
He said companies would pay for the laboratory through fees for the service, and the American part of other operations could be financed through federal grants handled by the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association of Vancouver, Wash., or by private companies.
The association is providing money and support for the trade mission.
"We want to find a way to ship products seamlessly from the U.S. to China, working through all the various import permits, certification and testing requirements of the Chinese government, as well as meeting the commercial needs of our exporters in China," Dalton Hobbs, Coba's assistant, said in the department's press release.
He cited grain-fed beef and specialty wines as among the value-added products that "will play a very important future role in meeting the consumer demands of a growing middle class in China.