U.S. Water News Online
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Bob Riley heads a state delegation going to China in a bid to boost trade, citing a surge in Alabama exports to that country over the past decade.
Companies that make and sell a wide range of products, from high-tech chemicals to NASCAR merchandise, are represented among the 60-member state delegation that also includes tourism officials and educators.
The primary goal of the weeklong trip is to help Alabama companies tap into the disposable income of a swelling middle class and other economic opportunities in China, officials said.
“We're really trying to get in a country and get those roots deep in the ground,” Alabama Development Office Director Neal Wade said. He said China's roaring economy is a perfect target.
“It's our responsibility to make sure we find ways to get Alabama companies inside economies like this,” he said.
Mainland China is now the third most popular destination for Alabama exports, with $808.5 million last year. Top exports include chemicals, scrap, machinery and processed food.
Meanwhile, imports to the state from China topped $647 million, putting two-way trade at $1.5 billion.
Companies such as Birmingham's Sprayroq Inc., which develops spray polyurethane used to rehabilitate water and wastewater systems, already are taking small steps in China and hope the trade mission will boost those efforts.
“The service the state of Alabama is providing is absolutely invaluable,” said Sprayroq President Jerry Gordon, part of the delegation. “It accelerates the relationship process greatly, and we're getting an opportunity to meet some of the major players in the construction industry.”
Sprayroq already is working in Southeast Asia and is looking to set up offices in China and elsewhere in the region. Its product, manufactured in St. Louis, extends the life of infrastructure, a particular need amid a growth boom in China.
“What we do is one facet of a multitude of things needed to address a multitude of issues in China,” Gordon said.
To organize a trade mission, the state schedules meetings in the country through services provided by the U.S. Embassy.
Businesses cover their own travel expenses, and some companies sponsor receptions during the trip.
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