Nebraska, Paulson Institute Collaborating to Work with China

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Governor Dave Heineman says no one knows China as well as former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson.

That's why Heineman says he said yes when the former Goldman Sachs CEO asked Nebraska to work with his Paulson Institute to help the US develop deeper relationships with the Chinese.

"What we're trying to do is partner with others, bring people together, and make the case as to why foreign investment is important and to support foreign investment," says Paulson.

Paulson says foreign investment is an often unpopular idea in the US, but he believes it offers more sustainable jobs and market growth.

He says that's good for states like Nebraska because as China grows, they'll be looking for food sources.

"The Paulson Institute has focused on agriculture because we have in the United States a comparative advantage in terms of supply and in terms of cost," says Paulson. "It's a comparative advantage in Nebraska."

Officials say Nebraska needs to find ways to produce more anyway as the world will need two times as much food production by 2050 as we have today.

"By 2050 we'll expect to have 9.3 billion people on the planet," says Dr. Ronnie Green, Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agricultural Resources at UNL. "Then an additional 3 billion people, over today, are going to want and desire and demand animal protein in their diets."

Others say Nebraska is already doing well at exporting raw commodities like corn, soybeans, and red meat, but more development could lead to better profits for farmers and ranchers.

"This creates an opportunity for agriculture producers to move the value of their raw materials up the value chain by further processing them through an investment from a Nebraska company or an outside company interested in accessing the Chinese market," says Department of Ag Director Greg Ibach.

Ibach says Nebraska shouldn't expect to see agreements or companies popping up right away. He says they're planting seeds now that will grow into trade and investment in the future.

The Paulson Institute says they're a non-profit, non-partisan group. Paulson says the deal-making will still be the responsibility of the state and commodity groups, they're just there to help build networks.