China Tobacco International opens N.C. office

RALEIGH – China’s national tobacco company officially announced the opening ofits United States office, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced today.

Officials with China Tobacco International informed Troxler of the decision at a meeting Wednesday afternoon, citing his department’s ongoing efforts to bolster trade relations with China with the decision to locate their office in the state. The company also has filed incorporation papers with the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State.

“We checked different policies in different states, and they wanted us to come,” Madam Zhanhua Liang, president of U.S. China Tobacco International, said. “But I think it is better to be closer to the farmers, and this department and the local governments helped us to make the decision to move here.”

“China Tobacco’s decision to open an office here is a major statement about how much it values North Carolina tobacco,” Troxler said. “My staff and I have been working to boost exports of tobacco for several years now, and we think CTI’s presence in our state will mean even more opportunities for our farmers.”

The office is expected to serve as the base for CTI’s North American leaf-buying operation. The company likely will buy from both leaf dealers and farmers, said Peter Thornton, assistant director for international marketing with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“This office is a logical next step in China Tobacco’s import process,” Thornton said. “The U.S. is the last major tobacco supplier where China doesn’t have an office.”

North Carolina leads the nation in tobacco production. China has purchased $156.8 million worth of N.C. tobacco in 2013 through April, according to data from the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research. The country is the state’s No. 2 agricultural export market behind Japan.

Troxler led trade missions to China in 2009 and 2011 to build the state’s relationship with the Asian country. The department also opened a trade office in Beijing in 2011. In addition to tobacco, China imports N.C. soybeans, cotton, poultry, pork and many other agricultural products.