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McCaskill expects China cargo flights to start by next year

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – Senator Claire McCaskill says she expects cargo planes filled with Chinese products to be landing at Lambert Airport within a year.

McCaskill was part of a trade delegation that returned to St. Louis from China late Monday night. She said her optimism is based on agreements the delegation signed while in China.

The Chinese government and four of the country's air cargo carriers will travel to St. Louis in the next couple of months to survey the facilities available at Lambert, McCaskill said. If the logistics to handle cargo are in place, the Chinese government will select one of the companies to make the twice-weekly flights, which McCaskill said could start by September 2011.

"China has the kind of government that I just don't believe we'd be this far down the line if they weren't seriously committed to beginning cargo flights here," McCaskill said, adding that when she and business leaders and area politicians from both sides of the aisle began the effort two years ago, she never expected to get this far.

The two countries also made progress on lifting some of the trade barriers that exist, McCaskill said. She said she spoke to the Chinese agriculture minister about his country's ban on American beef. Missouri has the second-largest number of beef cows in the country.

McCaskill on Monday also said she is cautiously optimistic that Congress will approve President Obama's proposal to put $50 billion into the nation's infrastructure.

"I think that most people are going to be open to the President's suggestion as long as it is paid for," McCaskill said, though she added that it's possible Republicans will choose to stonewall with two months left before the elections. "I think we are no longer going to be doing anything that is big like that that goes on the credit card. Way too much has gone on the credit card over the last decade."

The president announced the plan Monday at a rally in Milwaukee. He wants to pay for it by eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for the oil and gas industries. The Republican National Committee is already calling the proposal another government stimulus.


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