By Gary Truitt
IN Lt. Governor Becky Skillman met recently with a Vietnamese businesswoman and two government officials. The meeting is the result of October's Food and Agricultural Trade Mission to Vietnam and Taiwan. Madam Duong Thi Thanh Ha, President of Minh Dang Company, a Vietnamese importer of livestock feed technology and livestock genetics; Dr. Nguyen Dang Vang, Director of the Department of Livestock Production, Vietnam Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development; and Dr. Do Kim Tuyen, head of the Livestock Department, Vietnam Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development traveled to Indiana to meet with representatives of JBS United, Inc., Maple Leaf Farms and Whiteshire Hamroc Swine Genetics. Members of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and several Hoosier specialty crop producers also were involved in the meetings. JBS United, Inc. and the Indiana Soybean Alliance partnered to bring the group to Indiana.
"This meeting and the many other successes from Central America, Taiwan and Vietnam prove that trade missions work," said Skillman. "Indiana's food and agricultural resources are valuable to our international customers. With 96 percent of consumers living outside the United States, building long-term relationships abroad is critical. And relationships are formed when you meet face to face." Vietnam is a new economic force in Asia with annual growth of 8-10 percent, and Indiana was one of the first states to send a delegation to this country. The group's visit is also timely with Vietnam's recent acceptance into the World Trade Organization and pending national legislation to approve a free trade agreement between the United States and Vietnam.
"Our trade mission to Vietnam sparked a great deal of interest," said Lt. Governor Skillman. "U.S. Consul General in Vietnam Seth Winnick described our delegation as 'powerful, strong and focused' and was confident of the future advantages we will have in this dynamic new market." As Vietnam's agricultural industry becomes more sophisticated, the Vietnam Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development officials expressed great potential for future partnerships with Indiana agricultural businesses. Ministry officials were particularly interested in methods and systems for improving swine genetics, such as those discussed by Whiteshire Hamroc Swine Genetics. They were also interested in modern duck and poultry production systems with their health and safety measures explained by Maple Leaf Farms. With the world's second largest duck population after China, Vietnam has been investigating the implementation of new poultry and waterfowl production techniques because of concerns about avian influenza. The group also expressed great interest in future collaboration with the Indiana Soybean Alliance in the development of the Vietnamese aquaculture industry.