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China Tobacco International opens company in N.C.

China’s national tobacco company officially announced the opening of China Tobacco International of North America in North Carolina, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced today.

Officials with China Tobacco International (North America) Co., Ltd. informed Troxler of the decision at a meeting Wednesday afternoon, citing his department’s ongoing efforts to bolster trade relations with China with the decision to locate their office in the state. The company also has filed incorporation papers with the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State.

“Different tobacco-growing states wanted us to come. We choose North Carolina due to its advantages,” said Madam Liang, president of China Tobacco International (North America) Co., Ltd. “And it is better to be closer to the market and farmers. This department and the local governments give us tremendous help in the establishment of the company.”

“China Tobacco’s decision to open a company here is a major statement about how much it values North Carolina tobacco,” Troxler said. “My staff and I have been working to boost exports of tobacco for several years now, and we think CTI’s presence in our state will mean even more opportunities for our farmers.”

The company 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, said Peter Thornton, assistant director for international marketing with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“This office is a logical next step in China Tobacco’s import process,” Thornton said. “The U.S. is the last major tobacco supplier where China doesn’t have a company.”

North Carolina leads the nation in tobacco production. China has purchased $156.8 million worth of N.C. tobacco through April 2013, according to data from the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research. China is also a major tobacco-growing country. But along with its vigorous development of cigarette industry, the demand for American tobacco is strong thanks to its quality and flavor. The country is the state’s No. 2 agricultural export market behind Japan.

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. In addition to tobacco, China imports N.C. soybeans, cotton, poultry, pork and many other agricultural products.

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