USSEC and North Dakota Team Successfully Complete Soy Trade Mission in India
USSEC hosted North Dakota’s first trade mission to India in February.
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring led the state’s mission to establish trade relations and opportunities for North Dakota companies with the world’s second most populous country. The North Dakota delegation included representatives from 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.
The NDTO team first met with USSEC Regional Representative – Asia Subcontinent (ASC) Drew Klein and USSEC’s senior team in India who provided a market overview of the ASC with reference to soy dynamics and its behavior. Following this meeting, the NDTO team met with Scott Sindelar, Minister Counselor of Agricultural Affairs, Foreign Agriculture Services (FAS) / U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Embassy of the United States, New Delhi, and Jonn Slette, Senior Attache for Agricultural – India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, FAS/USDA.
Mr. Sindelar and Mr. Slette, together with colleagues from the U.S. Department of Commerce and State Department, briefed the NDTO 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. Zeba Reyazuddin, Economic Growth Unit Chief, Embassy of the United States, New Delhi, provided an overview of the economic status of India quoting opportunities and constraints out.
Commissioner Goehring, along with Mr. Slette and USSEC Deputy Regional Director – ASC Vijay Anand, 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 Mr. Goehring. “There are still some tariff issues but we’ll work through those.”
During Mr. Goehring’s meeting with the Joint Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Santosh Kumar Sarangi, the Secretary stated that by 2025, India’s growing middle class would make up 41 percent of its 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. Robert B. Sinner, president, SB & B, travelled to Ludhiana and Bhopal to address meetings and clients to assess and explore trade opportunities for U.S. food grade soybeans.
USSEC Director – India Food Program Dr. Ratan Sharma provided considerable support to soy participants by organizing traders’ meetings and other trade linkage opportunities. The NDTO team met with entrepreneurs who imported U.S food grade soybeans into India for trials covering various applications for the production of soy-based human food products. Firsthand feedback obtained from Indian entrepreneurs gave confidence to the NDTO team that India could quickly become an importer of more food grade soybeans due to India’s current inability to produce high quality beans suiting human food applications and its inability to cater to a sustained supply, both of which determine end product quality and business developments.
India is North Dakota’s eighth largest export market, with exports valued at $35 million in 2014, a 20 percent 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 seventh largest economy in the world and third 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 North Dakota’s exporters.