Western China prospecting in California

Updated: 2012-07-27 12:07

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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Western China prospecting in California

China's vice-minister of commerce, Wang Chao (left), talks with California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom during the US-China States and Provinces Seminar on Economic and Trade Cooperation in San Francisco on July 24. Chen Jia / China Daily

The role of western China in the country's expanding commercial relationship with the United States was recognized this week at a San Francisco forum that brought potential partners together.

This year, Chongqing will export $10 billion worth of goods to the US and invest $100 million there, Wang Yi, president of that city's trade and economic relations commission, said Tuesday at the US-China States and Provinces Seminar on Economic and Trade Cooperation.

Chongqing is the financial hub of western China and the only municipality in the 18-province region that comes under the central government's direct supervision. The region accounts for 71.4 percent of China's land area and 30 percent of the population, making it a place with great market potential and the focal point of sustainable Chinese development over the next 20 years.

The seminar was a matchmaking event for 100 Chinese government and private-sector leaders and potential partners in California, and the latest reverberation from Vice-President Xi Jinping's US visit in February.

"We are seeking opportunities to cooperate with San Francisco in developing strategic emerging industries" such as cloud computing, smart grids, biopharmaceuticals, virtualization and bio-digitization media, said Wang, who is also vice-president of the China Council for International Investment Promotion.

Chongqing is planning to build a global marketing service center on the US West Coast for cars and motorcycles, he said.

Currently 525 US companies have an investment or production presence in Chongqing, including 58 in the Fortune 500.

Kim Tung, a lawyer in the Shanghai office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, a US law firm, told China Daily that his firm's business is booming due to investments from China.

Wang Chao, China's vice-minister of commerce, said at the seminar that cooperation among western Chinese municipalities has helped fuel the region's foreign trade. The government in Beijing, he said, will promote the region's cooperation with California on infrastructure, construction, energy, environmental protection, information technology, medicine, agriculture and high-end manufacturing.

China is the world's No 1 exporter and third-biggest importer, ranking close behind the US and the European Union. Most Chinese exports to the US go through ports in California. Nearly all US exports to China go through the state.

As a major gateway in bilateral trade, California sent $14.1 billion in goods to China in 2011 while Chinese investors invested $1.5 billion in projects in the state. In 2010, China surpassed Japan as California's third-biggest export market, posting a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

In February, Governor Jerry Brown announced at a US-China economic forum in Los Angles his intention to form a China-California Joint Task Force to spur further collaboration, investment and trade.

Mike Rossi, an aide to Brown, said at Tuesday's seminar that the state plans to open a trade and investment office in China by the end of 2012. "California has not had a trade office in China, or anywhere for that matter, in almost a decade, so this was truly a visionary move by the governor to re-establish California's global presence," he said.

The Chinese delegation signed six cooperation agreements with California partners at the seminar. Its visit also included Illinois, Nevada and Alaska.

Contact the writer at chenjia@chinadailyusa.com