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NDTO News Article

Turkey trade mission generates new business

Mersin, Turkey – North Dakota company representatives said Wednesday their eight-day trip to the Republic of Turkey will generate sales and long-term business relationships. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson is leading the 21-member trade delegation.

“It’s important for our companies to travel to potential markets and establish relationships,” Johnson said. “What we have found time and again is that successful businesses don’t let distance stand in the way of their opportunities.”

A group of 11 businesses and higher education officials left North Dakota for Turkey Nov. 14 and are returning Friday. The mission’s delegates are attending pre-qualified business meetings in Istanbul, Ankara, Mersin and other cities throughout Turkey. Trade Office staff has also represented Missouri River Feeders LLP, of Mandan, and Gussiaas Farms, of Carrington during the trip.

“We’ve had very strong interest from all the companies we visited,” Marvin Flaten, of JM Grain in Garrison, N.D, said. “I believe we will close a deal before we leave for home.”

JM Grain is one of seven North Dakota agribusinesses meeting with existing customs in Turkey or developing new markets for lentils, peas, beans, confectionary sunflowers and other value-added foods. Other delegates are higher education officials who are recruiting students are four other businesses with diverse interests in Turkey’s growing commercial market.

The downturn in the world economy and the strengthening value of the dollar are presenting challenges during talks, but members of the trade delegation said they are confident they will land business in Turkey as a result of the mission.

“We expect to get some business with these new contacts,” said Brian Andrew, manager of international and domestic sales for Red River Commodities. The Fargo-based company produces and markets confectionary sunflowers and other value-added foods.

Tom Kenville, president of West Fargo-based Roll-A-Ramp, reported selling during the trip a container load of his company’s portable ramps – a sale valued at about $70,000. Kenville said he also is in early talks with the Istanbul Municipal Bus Company to equip the city’s buses with portable ramps for handicap accessibility.

“I think Turkey is a long-term market and you all need to be here because the growth trajectory is very favorable,” Eric Green, principal officer at the U.S. Consulate in Adana, Turkey, told members of the trade delegation Wednesday.

The agribusiness delegates are meeting with food company executives and major importers of peas, beans, lentils, confectionary sunflowers and other foods. Some of the agribusinesses also will travel to Cairo, Egypt, where they will spend a week developing new business ties and visiting existing customers, said Larry White, the Trade Office’s director of international agribusiness.

Mattracks of Karlstad, Minn., and Ideal Aerosmith of East Grand Forks, Minn., are keeping a dizzying pace, meeting with existing clients and following up on new opportunities in Istanbul and other cities. Mehmet Tulbek, technical director at the Northern Crops Institute and a native of Turkey, is providing technical expertise to participating agribusinesses during the trip and is representing North Dakota State University in recruiting undergraduate students to attend the university. Carl Nelson of Concordia Language Arts also is traveling throughout the Istanbul area to tap into the country’s large student population.

U.S. colleges and universities attract about 11,500 Turkish students for undergraduate and graduate training. Turkey represents the 8th largest source of foreign students in the United States, according to the U.S. Commercial Service.

At the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Turkey is a major trade nation with strong markets for value-added foods, machinery, other goods and student recruitment.  Turkey’s complex mix of modern industry and commerce continues to attract a diverse set of American companies with interests ranging from high technology to energy.

In addition to Turkey’s strong demand for pulse crops and other foods, the country also presents significant opportunities for North Dakota agribusinesses because it is home to major international traders who supply food buyers throughout the Middle East and Europe, said Larry White, the Trade Office’s director of international agribusiness.

Participants in the trade mission are:

  • Red River Commodities, Fargo, N.D.
  • Ideal Aerosmith, East Grand Forks, Minn.
  • Northarvest Bean Growers Assoc., Gilby, N.D.
  • Proseed Inc., Harvey, N.D.
  • Mattracks, Inc., Karlstad, Minn.
  • North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D.
  • Roll-A-Ramp, West Fargo, N.D.
  • Commercial Lynks, Inc., Bismarck, N.D.
  • West Dakota Feed and Seed LLC, Ross, N.D.
  • JM Grain, Garrison, N.D.
  • Concordia Language Villages, Moorhead, Minn.
  • Paulson Premium Seed, Bowman, N.D.