While they’ve been here for several months, the Chinese have officially announced opening a tobacco buying office in Raleigh. North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Assistant Director of International Marketing, Peter Thornton:
“Yesterday the leadership from the Chinese delegation visited with Commissioner Troxler and it was an excellent meeting. China tobacco has offices all around the world except in US and this is a logical extension for them because of the increasing importance of full flavored tobacco.”
The office is expected to serve as the base for CTI’s North American leaf-buying operation. The company likely will buy from both leaf dealers and farmers.
Thornton says the presence of a North Carolina office should increase tobacco sales from the state to China:
“That is the expectation and the hope on our part.”
NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler led trade missions to China in 2009 and 2011 to build the state’s relationship with the Asian country. The department also opened a trade office in Beijing in 2011. Thornton explains those trade missions have now begun to pay off:
“They had many choices in states to go to but the relationship with Troxler and the Chinese desire to be near the farmers was the deciding factor to establish the office in NC.”
Purchasing tobacco, or any other ag product in North Carolina has the added bonus of a sea port says Thornton:
“Most of the tobacco that they purchase now goes through Wilmington.”
And the expected increase in tobacco sales to China have already begun explains Thornton:
“They have already started to increase this year though the first three months, this year already they have purchased more than they did all of last year.”
China has purchased $156.8 million worth of N.C. tobacco through April, China purchased $104.8 million in tobacco from North Carolina in 2011 and 2012.