By Janet Nuzum, Associate Administrator for USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service
Today I am in bustling and busy Shanghai representing USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service at the SIAL China 2010 trade show. SIAL China is celebrating its 11th year as one of the largest, most comprehensive trade shows for the food, beverage, and hospitality industry in China. Last year, SIAL China had more than 1,000 exhibitors and over 28,000 visitors. As China’s trade and commercial center, this city is an appropriate place to hold a trade show of this magnitude, especially during World Trade Week.
In addition to the opening of SIAL China today, Shanghai is hosting the World Expo 2010 from May 1 through October 31. This Expo may be the largest World’s Fair ever, with 70 million visitors from all over the world expected to attend. With that many people anticipated in this city of 20 million over the next six months, you can only imagine how crowded the streets already are and will be.
I had the opportunity to visit the World Expo yesterday, along with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who is leading a clean energy business development and trade mission to China and Indonesia. I was truly amazed by the size and scope of this unforgettable Expo that is spread over two square miles along both sides of the Huangpu River that divides Shanghai.
In preparation for the World Expo, Shanghai has transformed itself in less than a decade from an industrial town to a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its growth is indicative of the rapid changes happening in this country of 1.3 billion people. Since China joined the World Trade Organization in December 2001, it has lowered tariffs and liberalized its economy, resulting in rapid growth in gross domestic product, direct foreign investment, imports and exports.
This growth means Chinese consumers have more disposable income to spend on food and clothing, which creates real opportunities for U.S. exporters of food and fiber. That is why I am here at the SIAL China 2010 Trade Show to see and learn about the changes happening in this dynamic market and what it means for U.S. agricultural exporters. As I walked through the U.S. Pavilion, I saw Chinese buyers from both the retail and food service sectors looking eagerly at the vast range of U.S. food and beverage products on display. U.S. exporters are here from all over the United States from Alaska to Alabama. Their products include everything from seafood to pork and wild blueberries to walnuts. What an exciting array of sights, smells, and tastes!
Last year, 42 U.S. Pavilion exhibitors made $2.5 million in on-site sales with another $17 million expected over the ensuing 12 months. With 58 U.S. exhibitors this year—the largest we have ever had at this show—sales will undoubtedly be even higher. The growing number of U.S. exhibitors is a testament to the broader awareness in the United States of the tremendous market potential here in China.
Earlier today, I participated in a press conference with Chinese and foreign dignitaries to open the show, which runs from May 19-21. At the press conference, I emphasized how much we value our trade and economic relationship with China. Currently, China is the United States’ second largest market for U.S. agricultural exports. Last year, two-way trade in agricultural, fish, and forest products exceeded $21 billion, more than quadrupling in value since 2001. Clearly, both of our countries benefit immensely from our vibrant bilateral relationship and exchange of goods and services. And the U.S. exhibitors here at SIAL China 2010 assured me that the prospects for increased U.S. exports look even brighter!
FAS Associate Administrator Janet Nuzum speaks with U.S. exporters at the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association booth in the USA Pavilion at the SIAL China 2010 Trade Show in Shanghai, China. Photo Credit: Bill Shen, U.S. Agricultural Trade Office, Shanghai, China