North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler officially opened the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ first trade office in Beijing March 9, marking an increased focus on the growing Chinese market.

“China is poised to become North Carolina’s largest export market for agricultural products,” Troxler said. “We have seen the value of North Carolina agricultural exports to China double from 2008 to 2010, growing from $271 million to $542 million. And I think we have only started to scratch the surface of this market’s potential.”

Troxler and commodity and agribusiness representatives of cotton, peanut, soybean, tobacco and wheat hosted Chinese business and agricultural leaders at a reception celebrating the office opening. The event was sponsored by the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.

The Beijing office will be located in the Chaoyang District near other U.S. agricultural trade offices, said Peter Thornton, the department’s assistant director for international marketing.

“The location in the central business district puts North Carolina agricultural interests in a good position to meet with potential buyers,” Thornton said. “The Chinese market is on the rise and many countries are competing to do business in China. It is important for us to have a presence here in order to have those business relationships and be the first to capture new sales leads for North Carolina farmers and agribusiness companies.”

The office opening was part of a 30-person trade mission to China. Joining Troxler were representatives from the North Carolina Agribusiness Council Inc., Burley Stabilization Corp., Carolinas Cotton Cooperative, North Carolina Cotton Producers Association, Golden Grove Candy, North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association, North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, North Carolina State University, Tobacco Associates, Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, Universal Leaf and White Hat Seed Farm. These travelers covered their own expenses.