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Michigan official focusing on agriculture in China

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan has a great opportunity to sell its products in China's fast-growing economy, the state's top agriculture official told The Associated Press from Shanghai.

Jamie Clover Adams, director the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, is with Gov. Rick Snyder on his trade trip in China and Japan. She said her role is shining a spotlight on Michigan's agriculture market during the Asian business mission.

In a phone interview Monday night local time, Adams said Michigan has an opportunity to ship dried fruits, bakery ingredients and blueberries to China. Michigan exported $23 million in agricultural products to China in 2011 and $33 million in 2012.

"I see my job here as educating and raising awareness with Chinese government officials about food and agriculture," Adams said. "First we have to kind of win them over. Then we can open doors for our companies."

She said compared to a trade trip last year, Michigan's delegation is getting meetings with higher-level officials this time around. She held out hope for a meeting later in the week with a vice premier who handles agricultural issues.

"We're probably in the infancy of that relationship," she said. "We've got a ways to go."

Regulatory issues must be resolved, she said, and acknowledged that that western U.S. states have an edge exporting food products to Asia more quickly.

Once it's built, a new bridge from Detroit to Canada could make Michigan more competitive exporting food overseas, she said.

In Tokyo on Monday, Snyder said the state is becoming increasingly business-friendly and is eager to build upon its longstanding productive relationships with Japanese businesses.

"''We have come to open new doors for trade and business between our state and Japan. We see many great opportunities ahead for all of us to do more business together," Snyder said in remarks at the 2013 Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference."