California reopens trade office in China

Updated: 2013-04-11 10:54

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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California will reopen its Trade and Investment Office in Shanghai on Friday, 10 years after it shuttered office doors in 2003.

Though Shanghai will be the third stop on Governor Jerry Brown's one-week trip to China, every member of his trade delegation received a pin with the logo of the new trade office.

The country's rapid economic development is the key reason why the California governor says it is worth $1 million a year to fund the office in China. The money was by the Bay Area Council, a nonprofit business group in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of the 75 delegates on the one-week journey with Brown are council members.

California closed many overseas offices to shore up funds after the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.

When former California governor Gray Davis made the decision to close the offices, he projected the move would save taxpayers $6 million a year. But several California businesspeople argue the move consequently dropped California behind other US states in the race for investments from China.

California reopens trade office in China

According to a 2012 report by the Rhodium Group and the Asia Society, California accounts for more than a quarter of all Chinese investments in the US, having recorded 156 deals between 2000 and 2011.

The California Trade and Investment Office will provide Californian companies with increased access to Chinese business contacts and facilitate Chinese investors.

The plan to reopen the trade office started in February 2012 during then China's Vice-President Xi Jinping, now President, visited the US where he discussed trade and investment opportunities with Brown and US Vice-President Joe Biden.

Xi's visit prompted several official visits between US states and China.

Last July, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman led a trade delegation to China and he opened Nebraska's first trade office in China on March 18.

In a statement, Heineman said: "Today is a historic day in Nebraska-China relations. By opening this trade office, we are expanding our international trade efforts. We are letting China's business leaders know that Nebraska is open for business".

This month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will attend a signing ceremony in Beijing with Tongrentang, founded in 1669 and a provider of medicines for the royal pharmacy of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). His two-week journey in China will also cover Tianjin, Shanghai, Harbin and other cities.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was recently on a trade delegation to China and is slated to take another trip later this year. Washington Vice-Mayor Victor Hoskins is also preparing for a trip to China this year.

"The economic recession seriously influenced our company's domestic market and most of our overseas markets except China in 2009 and 2010," said Mei Yan of the SWA Group, a landscape architecture firm in California. Mei said business in China never grew stagnant during the recession.

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