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Dave Olson, Published May 09 2013

Hong Kong trade official pitches closer ties with ND

FARGO – The doorway to broader trade between North Dakota and Hong Kong opened a little wider this week with a visit to the state by Subrina Chow, director of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in San Francisco.

After meeting with state officials Wednesday in Bismarck, Chow spoke Thursday to business leaders at a luncheon in Fargo, where she gave a brief history of Hong Kong and outlined why the quasi-autonomous center of commerce and North Dakota could form stronger economic ties.

She said China’s takeover of the former British colony in 1997 has worked very well for Hong Kong, which for the most part has been left to govern itself, aside from foreign affairs and defense.

Chow said Hong Kong is business friendly when it comes to things like licensing, taxes and freedom of movement, trade and information.

“It’s very easy to come to Hong Kong to set up your business,” Chow told an audience that included officials with the North Dakota Trade Office and the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corp.

Chow said it is expected that by 2020, China will be a net food importer, a development she said promises tremendous possibilities for sellers of commodities like soybeans and wheat.

“Dry beans could also find a good market in our region,” she said.

Dean Gorder, executive director for the North Dakota Trade Office, said Chow’s office asked for the visit because of North Dakota’s reputation as an economically vibrant area.

He said the contacts made during Chow’s trip will be valuable but added it takes time for such connections to result in tangible commerce.

“I think there are some new opportunities that are presenting themselves, but many times it can take months or years to really fulfill the promise of those new relationships,” Gorder said.

A number of countries have been paying closer attention to North Dakota lately, according to Gorder.

“They just really want to come and see what’s going on in North Dakota,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for North Dakota to sell itself to these other countries.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555