Raleigh, N.C. — State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler is heading back to China.
Troxler and six staffers from the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services leave Sunday for a week-long trade mission to try and increase North Carolina exports to Asia. He led a similar trade mission in 2009.
China ranks second to Japan among the state's top export markets, worth about $542 million year, according to state figures. The amount has nearly doubled since 2008, Troxler said.
Tobacco and meat are among the top commodities North Carolina sells to China, and Troxler said he believes that another visit to China will help open the doors for even more exports, such as cotton, peanuts and soybeans.
“The Chinese market is among the fastest-growing in the world, and our farmers produce many commodities that the Chinese are looking to buy," he said in a statement. "This is an excellent opportunity for North Carolina growers to gain new contracts in a marketplace with tremendous potential for growth.”
When Troxler returns to the U.S., most of the trade contingent will travel on to Vietnam to open up more agricultural opportunities.
The trade mission will cost taxpayers an estimated $18,000, but he said the expense is worth the return for the state.
Private business people will also join the commissioner on the trip. They will pay their own way.