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NDTO News Article

Mission generates business, new ties in S. Korea

Bismarck, N.D. – Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple and members of a North Dakota trade delegation in Seoul, Korea said  they are expanding existing business ties and gaining new customers in this rapidly growing market. Dalrymple led a group of North Dakota companies and state university officials on the mission in coordination with the North Dakota Trade Office.

The 25-member delegation left North Dakota for Seoul March 14 and concluded their week-long business trip March 21.  The mission participants included North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, representatives from nine North Dakota agribusinesses, three universities, Jamestown College and other companies with diverse business interests in South Korea. The mission’s goals included increasing export opportunities, student recruitment and advocacy on behalf of the state’s beef producers.

The trade mission is giving North Dakota companies a marketing advantage as they develop business relationships in advance of Congress’s anticipated passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

“Our companies will do business despite the current tariffs, but they will enjoy even greater exports once the trade agreement is passed,” Dalrymple said. “There is no doubt they want our products and have the resources to become major customers.”

Initial highlights from the trade mission include:

• John Lund and Jon Swegarden of Precision Diagnostic Services, Fargo, are in negotiations to partner with South Korea’s largest sleep research center. Precision Diagnostics would provide equipment, training and on-going support to 15 sleep centers throughout South Korea. Precision Diagnostics, with 60 employees, operates the North Dakota Center for Sleep and partners with 42 clinics and hospitals in eight states.

• North Dakota’s producers and marketers of Identity Preserved soybeans met with representatives from 56 importers of food-grade soybeans. South Korean food importers expressed concern regarding the reliability of their supplies and are eager to diversify their supply market. North Dakota’s soybean growers said Korea will become a major market for them if the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement is ratified, eliminating high tariffs on U.S. commodities.  The local producers reported that South Korean food importers are pleased with the quality of North Dakota supplies, they are willing to pay a premium for food-grade soybeans and want to further develop business ties prior to the trade agreement’s passage. South Korea’s government procurement agency, Agro Fishery Trade Corporation, also encouraged the North Dakota suppliers to bid on recently announced tenders for 100,000 metric tons of soybeans (3.7 million bushels).

• Hyundai Rotim, South Korea’s manufacturer of passenger railcars, has placed an order for  Roll-a-Ramp to build a custom ramp for handicap access to its railcars. Hyundai Rotim is expected to order 400 units once a prototype is approved, Roll-a-Ramp Sales Director Greg Moll said. In addition, Roll-a-Ramp plans to sign a distribution agreement with Tong-Il, a medical equipment distributor with 500 dealers throughout South Korea.

• Grand Forks, N.D.- based Dakota Peat & Equipment took advantage of opportunities presented by the trade mission to introduce potential customers to its products and services. Dakota Peat officials established relationships with Korean agricultural, golf course and turf management suppliers About 20 million people frequent South Korea’s golf courses every year.  According to the Korea Golf Course Business Association (KGBA), 100 golf courses are under construction in South Korea or are in their planning stages.

• Roger Gussiaas of Gussiaas Farm Inc., Carrington,  held 11 meetings with food buyers interested in purchasing flax for use in health foods. He said he expects to write sales orders with most of the 11 food buyers within a week – sales valued at about $150,000.

• Scott Russell, Cloverdale Food Company vice president of sales and marketing, expanded existing business with two South Korean food supply companies. Russell reported that his company also identified an additional distributor capable of increasing Cloverdale’s sales of hot dogs and bacon throughout South Korea.

• Officials from the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University and Jamestown College said they are pursuing significant opportunities to recruit Korean students. As a result of the trip, NDSU’s Office of International Programs is working with Korean universities and Korean education consultants to enroll Korean students in NDSU’s English Language Program.

• Officials from UND, Dickinson State University and Jamestown College are working with South Korean universities to provide Korea’s registered nurses with additional study in North Dakota.

• UND Associate Provost Dr. Victoria Beard, signed a memorandum of understanding between UND and South Korea’s Gachon University of Medicine and Science to establish academic exchange opportunities for faculty and students. Beard also held meetings with officials with South Korea Aerospace University and other universities to lay the foundation for additional cooperative agreements in aerospace, engineering, nursing, and entrepreneurship.

Economic Development
• In a meeting with Dalrymple and other mission members, leading executives from South Korea-based Doosan, the parent company of Bobcat, proposed locating major suppliers to Bobcat in Bismarck. The Doosan executives also are interested in placing South Korean students in North Dakota universities to earn engineering degrees.

• Executives from Hanjin Shipping pledged to pursue a North Dakota strategy that calls for shipping companies to provide more containers for North Dakota’s  intermodal shippers.

• Johnson reported that the ban of U.S. beef remains a significant issue, but he is optimistic about North Dakota exports of agricultural goods to South Korea. Johnson said he hopes the ban is lifted by summer – a necessary step before Congress approves the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement would provide greater access to Korea’s $1 trillion economy and 49 million consumers. With the agreement, almost two-thirds of U.S. farm exports would become duty free immediately. Also, Korea’s 40-percent tariff on U.S. beef would be eliminated over 15 years. The trade deal would eliminate tariffs on nearly 95 percent of all U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products within three years of the agreement’s enactment.

South Korea is the United States’ 7th largest trading partner and the 5th largest market for U.S. agricultural products. Last year, North Dakota exported goods to Korea valued at $12 million, more than five times the export value in 2001.

Participants in the trade mission were:

· Dakota Pride Cooperative, Jamestown

· ND Mill and Elevator, Grand Forks

· Gussiaas Farm, Inc., Carrington

· Brushvale Seed Inc., Wahpeton

· Sun Opta, Fargo-Moorhead

· SB&B Foods Inc., Casselton

· Unity Seed, Casselton

· Cloverdale Foods, Mandan

· J&J Corporation, Inc., Fargo

· University of North Dakota

· Jamestown College

· Dickinson State University

· Roll-A-Ramp, West Fargo

· Ideal Aerosmith, Inc., East Grand Forks

· Advenio Partners LLC, Fargo

· Bismarck-Mandan Development Association

· Precision Diagnostic Systems, Fargo