Governor Jay Inslee embarks this November on his first trade mission to China as governor. “We’re the only state with a trade surplus with China, not a deficit,” says Ron Chow, cofounder and CEO of the Seattle Pacific Trading Company, who is helping to organize Governor Inslee’s visit. But despite the overall success of our state’s transatlantic trade, one Washington industry has, as of late, had a tenuous relationship with its Chinese counterparts: Washington apples. The 2012 export season saw a sharp decrease in Washington apple exports to China, due in part to fears of contamination from post-harvest diseases. China has cleared certain varieties of apples, including Red and Golden Delicious, since then, though there are new quarantine and inspection regulations in place.
The governor’s spokeswoman, Jaime Smith, said that Inslee plans to talk with business leaders in China about, among other things, Washington agricultural exports. Slated to join him is Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. El-Lissy will spend an extra two days visiting with his Chinese counterparts. Washington Apple Commission president Todd Fryhover is optimistic about the delegation trip. The governor, El-lissy, and US-China Ambassador Gary Locke, a Washington native, all recognize the value of reopening the pipeline for apple exports to our largest foreign trading partner, Fryhover says.