Chinese textile delegation visiting Mississippi, exploring possibilities

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Published: May 21,2007

On May 14, Mississippi’s largest marketer of cotton, Greenwood-based Staplcotn, met with representatives of the world’s largest nation and one of the state’s most important export markets, China, at the Woolfolk Building. The meeting was part of a tour of the state by the Chinese delegation, representing that nation’s largest textile mills, designed to increase the export of Mississippi-grown cotton.

“These Chinese textile mills are important customers of not only U.S. cotton, but Mississippi cotton, as well,” said Meredith Allen, vice president of marketing at Staplcotn. “As the largest marketer of Mississippi cotton, these are obviously very important customers.”

The Chinese delegation numbered 24 individuals, led by Wang Shenyang, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Textiles. The delegation is responsible for approximately $400 million of U.S. cotton purchases, a portion of which is grown in Mississippi and other states in the Southeast and is marketed and warehoused by Staplcotn.

These political officials and representatives from cotton-buying enterprises were part of a larger group representing other industries such as machinery, electronics and other agricultural products.

Gov. Haley Barbour, who spoke to the delegation and traded gifts with Wang, pointed this out. After explaining he was born and raised in cotton country — Yazoo City — Barbour added that China was a growing market for other Mississippi-made products, particularly furniture.

After the gathering in the Woolfolk Building, the Chinese delegation toured the State Capitol to meet with lawmakers, with the remainder of the day spent touring a cotton farm and gin in Cary in the Mississippi Delta.

The cotton trade team also made stops in Texas and South Carolina before ending the trip in Memphis May 18. However, the “money” stop will be in Washington, D.C., later this month.

There, the delegation is expected to announce the purchase of $12.5 billion of U.S. goods.

Woods Eastland, president of Staplcotn, said, “Since China is the world’s largest cotton importer, we are working to further our relationship with Chinese importers. It is important not only to us as cotton marketers, but also to the economy of the Mid-South and Southeast as well as the United States.

“We hope that Chinese import policy will aid in increasing the amount of Mid-South and Southeast cotton that can be exported to China’s textile industry in the years ahead.”

Staplcotn markets approximately 20% of the U.S. cotton crop. The company consistently markets between three and four million bales of Memphis/Eastern cotton per year, which generates more than $1 billion in sales annually.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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