June 16, 2008

Chinese Vice Premier Visits St. Louis to Explore Air Cargo Hub, Commercial Ties

ST. LOUIS, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan today became the highest Chinese government official yet to visit St. Louis in connection with the proposal to create an air cargo hub and commercial center here to facilitate trade between China and the United States.

The Vice Premier arrived here yesterday on a flight direct from Beijing. After his meetings here, he went on to Washington, D.C. for discussions with Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson.

"We are extremely pleased to be hosting this visit by Vice Premier Wang," said Richard C. D. Fleming, President and Chief Executive Officer of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA). "His presence here speaks volumes about how seriously the Chinese are exploring the notion of making St. Louis their Midwestern port of entry to the United States."

While in St. Louis, Vice Premier Wang met this morning with Sens. Christopher S. ("Kit") Bond and Claire McCaskill, as well as with Congressmen Russ Carnahan, William "Lacey" Clay, Todd Akin, and JoAnn Emerson, and with Mo. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, and others, including Robert A. Reynolds Jr., RCGA's chairman and chairman, president, and CEO of Graybar. The meetings took place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton, and were followed by a luncheon where the Vice Premier made remarks that were open to the media.

In conjunction with Vice Premier Wang's visit, Chinese government officials signed four agreements with local and state businesses and organizations. The agreements were with the United Soybean Board, United States Soybean Export Council, and the American Soybean Association; the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Emerson ; and Solutia, Inc. .

The three soybean organizations were among several U.S. soybean groups that helped facilitate contracts between eight U.S. exporters, including ADM, Cargill, and Bunge, and 14 Chinese importers. U.S. soybean organizations are expecting a $3 billion commitment from the Chinese importing companies this year -- a projected 10 percent of total U.S. production and an increase from about $2.5 billion last year.

The agreement the Missouri Department of Agriculture signed was a memorandum of understanding with China's Chamber of Commerce of Import/Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products (CFNA), and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The memorandum calls for Missouri and CFNA to expand and promote agricultural and food trade, especially in soybeans.

Emerson signed contracts recognizing continuing agreements between the company and China in two areas. One deals with the delivery of $30 million of Scroll(R) compressors and other equipment used in air conditioning and heating systems made by Emerson's Climate Technologies business. The other is a $40 million agreement between Emerson's Network Power business and China Mobile, the world's largest mobile network. Emerson Network Power provides that company with about 35 percent of its power-related products and services, from backup power to precision cooling, in support of its telecommunications network.

Solutia signed memorandums of understanding with three companies for the purchase of Solutia's Vydyne(R) nylon resin, which is used by Chinese manufacturers of automotive, electrical, consumer, and industrial products. The three companies, and the size of the respective contracts, are Guangzhou Kingfa Science and Technology Co. Ltd. - $84 million; Hangzhou Yongchang Nylon Co. Ltd. - $56 million; and Liaoning Yinzhu Chem-Tex Group Co. - $42 million.

Concurrent with the Vice Premier Wang's St. Louis trip here, more than 100 Chinese entrepreneurs, investors, and business executives also visited today in a trip sponsored by China's Ministry of Commerce. At a seminar Monday morning, conducted jointly by RCGA and the Ministry of Commerce, they received briefings on the local and state economy by several St. Louis companies and organizations. At a second seminar Monday afternoon, many of them were briefed on specific investment opportunities in the St. Louis region in the areas of life sciences, high technology, venture capital, and real estate.

Many of the entrepreneurs and business people were here at the behest of the China Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA), which signed an agreement with St. Louis officials last March during a visit they made to Beijing. That agreement called for exactly this kind of exploration of stronger commercial ties between the St. Louis area and China.

Mr. Wang's visit marks the third visit here by a high-ranking Chinese government official since February. The first visit took place Feb. 19-20, when China's Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzhong, was hosted here by the RCGA at the invitation of Sens. Bond and McCaskill. During that visit, he met with government and business officials about the air cargo and commercial hub proposal. In March, a large delegation of St. Louis and Missouri government and business leaders visited Beijing to pursue the St. Louis proposal with Chinese government officials. Li Zhaoxing, who heads the foreign affairs committee of the National People's Congress, visited here for two days in April and also met with business, government, and university leaders.

About the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA)

The St. Louis RCGA is the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for the 16-county, bi-state region. With nearly 4,000 member companies, RCGA members constitute 40% of the regional work force. The mission of the RCGA is to unite the region's business community, and to engage dynamic business and civic leadership to develop and sustain a world-class economy and community.

St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA)

CONTACT: Gary Broome of St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association,+1-314-444-1171, [email protected]; or Paul Wagman, +1-314-606-1283,[email protected], for St. Louis Regional Chamber & GrowthAssociation