Idaho looks to agriculture, technology to bolster China trade

Global Business

Idaho china

The U.S. state of Idaho is one of the smallest U.S. states by population, but does big trade with China, the state’s fourth largest export market.

A third of U.S. potatoes come from the state of Idaho. It’s a land of big spaces and few people.

CGNT’s Mark Niu reports.

Idaho looks to agriculture, technology to bolster China trade

The U.S. state of Idaho is one of the smallest U.S. states by population, but does big trade with China, the state's fourth largest export market. CGNT's Mark Niu reports.

Doug Gross is a second-generation potato farmer.

“We have rich volcanic soil, we have a great climate with warm days and cool nights throughout the summer that just work perfectly for potatoes. I don’t think there’s any doubt they are the best in the world,” Gross said.

Gross Farms is a mid-size operation that produces about 20.4 million kilograms of potatoes each year. About 10 percent will be sold as fresh ones, while the other 90 percent will become French fries. The second largest export market for Idaho’s french fries is China.

Exporting fresh potatoes to China is not allowed, but farmers like Gross hope positive trade relations will open doors.

“For us in Idaho, we only have a million and-a-half people that live here, much of ‘ag’ production has to be shipped elsewhere. So any market, especially the Chinese market – where it’s a developing market – the middle income is rising. We see that as a great consumer.”

Potato chips are big in the state, but to the surprise of many, computer chips are even bigger. Semiconductors and industrial equipment make up nearly 86-percent of Idaho’s exports to China.

The biggest player is Micron Technology, which has often been rumored as being an acquisition target for China’s Tsinghua group.

Standing at the intersection of tech and ‘ag,’ Idaho looks to a future where the world knows the true value of what this small place is all about.


Jeff Zelkowitz discusses the Chinese business investment climate in the US