Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring led North Dakota’s first trade mission to India last week to establish trade relations and opportunities for North Dakota companies with the world’s 2nd most populous country.
The North Dakota delegation included Bio Pro Power, Great Northern Ag, SB&B Foods, SK Food International, SunOpta, Superior Manufacturing, Swanson Health Products, and representatives of the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.
Commissioner Goehring met with Indian government officials for talks on India’s agricultural economy and the demand for North Dakota commodities.
“We discussed North Dakota supplying them with beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans,” said Goehring, who returned last Thursday with the North Dakota delegation. “There are still some tariff issues but we’ll work through those.”
During Goehring’s meeting with the Joint Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Rajni Ranjan Rashmi, the Secretary stated that by 2025, India’s growing middle class will be 41% of their population, an estimated 680 million people, twice the population of the United States.
The trade mission was divided by sector into three programs – specialty crops, soybeans and commercial products. Delegates attended market briefing sessions and educational events tailored to each sector. Meetings with Indian buyers and distributors took place in numerous cities including New Delhi, Ludhiana, Bhopal, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai. A number of delegates also toured soy processing facilities and attended the Panacea Natural Products Expo in Mumbai.
Three of the participating businesses were able to use funds from the STEP ND program. The STEP ND program is funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and facilitated by NDTO, to partially offset costs for international trade missions and sales trips.
Organizations assisting in the development and support of this event include the North Dakota Soybean Council, the U.S. Commercial Service, the USDA Foreign Ag Service, the U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council, and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC). Dr. Ratan Sharma of USSEC provided considerable support to soy participants and Jonn Slette, Senior Agricultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, led the U.S. Embassy events.
“It was my pleasure to meet the North Dakota delegation led by North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi,” said Slette. “I, along with my colleagues at the U.S. Department of Commerce and State Department, briefed the delegates on the current status of the agriculture sector in India. The U.S. Department of Commerce also provided individualized matchmaking services to three of the companies in various Indian cities, to facilitate their efforts to enter or expand into the Indian marketplace. We look forward to working with North Dakota in the future.”
India is North Dakota’s 8th largest export market, with exports valued at $35 million in 2014, a 20% increase from 2013. A huge market of 1.32 billion people, half of them under 27, India remains an attractive market for U.S. businesses. It is the 7th largest economy in the world and 3rd largest Asian economy. India has remained resilient despite cooling economies around the world. A growing financial market, declining inflation, large English-speaking population, and a stable democratic government further benefit the North Dakota exporter.