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Nebraska opens China trade office in Shanghai

Grant Schulte, Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska has officially opened its first China trade office in Shanghai, part of a broader push to help in-state businesses connect with larger international markets.

Gov. Dave Heineman celebrated the opening Monday in Lincoln. Heineman said value-added agriculture exports are a key growth area between Nebraska and China.

The Nebraska Center in China represents a gateway for Nebraska companies entering and expanding in China. Services will include business counseling, promotion of products and services, and help in identifying potential business partners. The center also will concentrate on attracting more Chinese investment to Nebraska.

"We are letting China's business leaders know that Nebraska is open for business," Heineman said. "Relationships are essential for building business in Asia, and having both an office in China and Japan shows our commitment to these growing economies."

Grace Gui, formerly of Omaha, will serve as the office's executive director in China. Gui served as a system and senior database administrator for Stapes in Omaha from 2001 through 2012.

Heineman said the city of Shanghai is a key economic trade center for China, with direct flights from Chicago and other major U.S. cities. With a population of more than 23 million and a gross domestic product of $297 billion, it is larger than many countries with which Nebraska conducts business.

China also represents Nebraska's fourth-largest trading partner and one of its fastest growing markets, having more than doubled during the past five years — and increasing 36 percent in 2011. Combined exports totaled more than $380 million last year, up from nearly $279 million in 2010.

The trade office is the second established by Nebraska. In 2006, Heineman opened a similar center in Tokyo. Heineman said the office has played a key role with the Department of Economic Development in recruiting Japanese companies and helping Nebraska firms conduct business with Japan.