A Chinese bank will establish its first U.S. office in Maryland, state economic development officials announced Friday.

The Export-Import Bank of China and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development signed a cooperative agreement allowing the bank to open an office at the World Trade Center Baltimore at the Inner Harbor.

The bank will focus on business development, project evaluation and building relationships in the U.S. market as well as consider providing funding for Chinese companies looking to invest in the United States.

State officials said discussions between the two parties had been ongoing since last fall when Gov. Martin O'Malley reached out to bank Chairman Li Ruogu. Earlier this year, the bank and the state signed a memorandum of understanding to promote bilateral trade, investment financing and science and technology.

China was Maryland's second-largest export market last year with $666 million in goods and services.