GRANITE CITY — Delegates from China visited America's Central Port on Monday to explore potential foreign trade opportunities and establish a network of sharing information and services between the U.S. and Chinese ports.
The delegates' visit Monday to the metro-east port is a follow up to a visit that officials with America's Central Port made to the Wuhan New Port, located on the Yangtze River in China, in October as part of the annual Mississippi-Yangtze River Forum. America's Central Port signed a partnership agreement with Wuhan New Port during the forum.
The two ports have partnered to establish communication about potential new port construction, share information and develop investments and foreign trade opportunities. The agreement also called for periodic trade and visits between the two ports.
Through an interpreter, Wuhan New Port director Zhang Lin noticed the similarities between the Chinese and U.S. ports. Like Granite City and neighboring Madison, where the 1,204-acre America's Central Port is located, Wuhan New Port is located within a confluence of two rivers, the Yngtze and Han rivers, and also is a major transportation hub with access to river, roads and railways.
"What we have is similar," Lin said. "We hope our location can become an important exchange point. We're hoping the city of Wuhan will play a more important role in the transporting of goods."
Another Chinese delegate, Wuhan Iron & Steel Co. vice president Dong Zhi Wu, said his company already imports from places like Quebec and wants to find more opportunities.
"Our companies in China and the United States need to work together to investigate how we can complement each other in the market," Wu said. "Today is one of the first steps in that process."
America's Central Port executive director Dennis Wilmsmeyer was one of the U.S. delegates who visited the Chinese port last year.
"I got to see this facility and it is a very impressive facility," Wilmsmeyer said.
The Chinese delegates toured the metro-east port Monday morning before meeting local port and state economic development leaders at the port district office. Delegate Hu Aidi, who chairs the Wuhan Aidi Group, said she is pleased with what she has seen at the metro-east port.
"I am so thankful that I can come to America's Central Port to study," Aidi said. "It's my first time coming over to the port, and I like this place a lot."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.