Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Brief (Very Brief) History of Sino-Wisconsin Trade

Truthfully, I couldn't find much, but, then again, I honestly wasn't looking all that hard.

Here's one place to start,

Another example of importance of trade to the Wisconsin’s economy is China. State exports to China alone in 2003 increased 52.7 percent to $548.2 million, members of Gov. Jim Doyle’s economic advisory group were told last week.

Perhaps, not coincidentally, UW-Madison released this statement today looking ahead to the trade mission Gov. Doyle will be leaving on later this month where upon the Truck deal will be formally finalized:

This month, a contingent of Wisconsin dairy scientists and industry officials will travel to China to participate in a seminar for Chinese dairy producers, which will take place Sept. 17-18 in Beijing. Organized by the Sino-U.S. Dairy Center, a joint project of UW-Madison's Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development and China Agricultural University, the seminar is designed to share the latest scientific findings on milk quality, animal nutrition and other aspects of sound dairy management. It is the fourth such conference organized through the partnership, which aims not only to boost Chinese dairy expertise, but also to establish business relationships and tap into markets in the world's most populous nation for Wisconsin industries.

(emphasis added)

Get used to that phrase because you're going to be hearing it for some time to come. In this case, it sounds like smart business sense:

China is starting to get milk, a basic change in the national diet that reflects larger shifts in the surging Chinese middle class. Production of milk in China nearly doubled during the five-year period ended last year, according to government estimates. While its total milk production is still small compared with the West, with a population of 1.3 billion, China "is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and probably the fastest in absolute terms," says Thierry Vappereau, head of planning for Nestle SA's China division.

Just like Truck's heavy industrial equipment, China does not yet have the ability to produce dairy on the kind of large scale that would accommodate such a fast-growing trend among such a huge population. That's where Wisconsin dairy farmers come in. Eventually the Chinese will pick up on the craft and might be able to develop their own dairy industry, but when that happens Wisconsin dairy doesn't become obsolete, it becomes a luxury item (think of the difference between Kraft singles and an imported wheel of Dutch Gouda).

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