Idaho companies like J.R. Simplot and Micron Technology have benefited from the emergence of China as a global economic giant.
But the opportunities are going to grow dramatically for Idaho businesses as the nation of 1.4 billion people matures.
“China is moving from being the world factory to being the world market,” said Manuel Menendez, a businessman who has been making deals in China for 30 years.
This shift, along with the huge wealth that has been accumulated by individual Chinese will help nearly every segment of Idaho’s economy from agriculture to aircraft parts manufacturing to health care.
“China’s hungry and they need more and more of our products,” Menendez said.
He was the main speaker at a day-long China Business Summit at the Boise Centre on The Grove sponsored by the state and several Idaho businesses. Business executives from around Idaho came to hear ways to integrate China trade into their businesses.
Sessions looked at logistics, protecting intellectual property and financing.
Gov. Butch Otter opened the session sharing his advice gained from visits to 83 countries in 18 trade missions since 198. Both he and Menendez spoke of the importance of having partners in China who know the country and the cultural and political landscape.
“You’ve got to have someone there who is ready to speak up for you,” Otter said.
Idaho’s exports to China have risen from $700 million in 1987 — when $500 million of those were farm products — to more than $5 billion today across all sectors, Otter said.
A new book, “China Goes Global,” by David Shambaugh, recognizes Otter’s 30-year relationship with China and Idaho’s “investment-friendly state government.”