LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday he will meet with existing and prospective business contacts and promote Arkansas agriculture to government officials during an upcoming trade mission to China.


“Without any question, it’s a good opportunity for Arkansas to present its case in terms of our rice and poultry (entering) the China market, which we have some current obstacles in doing,” Hutchinson said during a news conference at the state Capitol.


Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston, AEDC Director of Business Development for Asia Mark Hamer, Chief of Staff Allison Williams and a state trooper will accompany the governor on the trip, his second to China since becoming governor. They will leave Saturday and return Oct. 21.


The group will visit Shanghai, Beijing, Yanzhou District, Jinan, Jining and Suzhou, Hutchinson said. He said the group will meet with representatives of Shandong Sun Paper Industry, which plans to build a $1.3 billion mill in Clark County, China’s vice minister of agriculture and secretary general of foreign affairs, and representatives of Arkansas companies that do business in China, among others.


“The China government … has still an Avian flu ban on our poultry, which is unjustified,” Hutchinson said. “Everybody’s lifted it but China, and we view that as an excuse more than a reason.”


The governor also said there is a proposal to allow Arkansas rice into China that has not yet been approved by Chinese government officials.


“By me raising the issues with them, hopefully they will address them sooner rather than later,” he said.


The trip will cost $45,024, according to the governor’s office.