By Adam Allington, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – Regional business leaders and politicians remain optimistic about creating a Midwest air hub in St. Louis to promote international trade with China
Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong was in St. Louis for the second time in less than a year on Monday.
Ambassador Zhou says the recent creation of the so-called "Midwest-China Hub Commission" assures that the concept is more than "just talk."
"To be quite frank I think Missouri was the first to come up with this idea," says Zhou. "We are buying a lot of things from this part of the United States, particularly farm products."
China is currently the fourth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports and number one in soybean exports.
A delegation of regional politicians and business leaders traveled to China last year to promote the idea.
U.S. Senator Kit Bond says the creation of a commission assures that regional businesses can negotiate with a single voice.
"This commission gives us the underlying structures we need to be able to help Chinese companies and investors easily access the markets and identify trade opportunities," says Bond.
Bond says China has already shown considerable interest in importing more Missouri soybeans, cotton, beef and pork.
Lambert Airport would be the site of the air hub. In 2006 Missouri invested over $1 billion for a new runway at Lambert. Today that runway remains largely unused because of cutbacks in the number of departures.