U.S. companies should remain actively engaged in China or they will lose out on opportunities for joint ventures and investments that are being sought by foreign firms, according to JoAnn Hines, founding executive director of Women in Packaging Inc., a Kennesaw-based nonprofit organization.

      Ms. Hines told GlobalFax last week upon her return to Atlanta from a White House conference concerning U.S. and China relations that she was particularly concerned that U.S. food packaging and processing companies are not sufficiently involved in China.

      By the year 2000, the packaging industry in China will be the third largest in the world, she said in a telephone interview. 70% of everything packaged is food, and it is scary how fast our U.S. companies are losing ground in developing the relationships that they will need to play a part in this enormous market.

      Ms. Hines was invited to share her insights culled on a trip to China from April 23-May 7 during which she met with counterparts belonging to the China Women’s Association for Science and Technology (CWAST) and the China Packaging Technology Association (CPTA).

      On the trip she visited Beijing, Nanjing, Wuxi and Shanghai along with 14 other members of Women in Packaging and inspected a variety of companies, some of which were entirely foreign-owned companies and others, which were joint ventures.

       In Beijing, the group visited a two-piece beverage can manufacturer that was a joint venture with Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Corp. In Shanghai, they visited a bottling plant that was a joint venture with Coca-Cola Co.

      A fervent supporter of President Clinton’s trip to China at the end of the month, she added that she was pleased the White House conference allowed her to explain the important role women are playing in the Chinese economy.

      Digitalized photographs of her trip are to appear on the Women in Packaging web site at http://www.napco.com/wp/index.html

     For more information, Ms. Hines may be reached at (770) 924-3563; or send a fax to (770) 928-2338.